CAMPBELL GOES BACK TO PERTH
Dual Championship winning coach Ronnie Campbell has been confirmed to coach Perth SC into 2011. The appointment completes the circle for Campbell, who moved from Scotland in 1980 to play for Perth. "I feel privileged for the opportunity to coach this famous and successful club," he said. "They brought me and my wife out here thirty odd years ago and they have always been special in our hearts. It's nice to come back here and to be the senior coach, it's something I'm really looking forward too."
Campbell takes over the reins from Graham Normanton, who has stood down after twelve years with Perth. "Graham has done a fantastic job here, he won 22 trophies in his time at the club and that's full credit to him and the players," commented Campbell. "I'm looking forward to maintaining that success next season. I have high standards and some fresh ideas and I would like to change a few things, although there isn't too much to change. I'll sit down with the committee over the next few weeks and discuss certain things and player retention for 2011."
Joe Italiano, Perth president, is confident he's got the right man for the job. "Ronnie comes with excellent credentials and he's been successful as a player and coach over the years," he said. "I couldn't be more pleased, he is an ex-player of our club and now he has the opportunity to come back and coach the side. It's pleasing for the club and its members that someone of his stature will be leading the club into the new season."
It was with Perth's arch-rival, Western Knights, that Campbell established his coaching credentials, winning eight trophies - including two Premier Leagues - during an eleven-season spell. Although the greatest successes in the Knights 40-year history arrived under Campbell, he was unceremoniously dumped just weeks after steering them to Cup final victory in 2008. "I was in shock when Willie and I were dismissed from the Knights, it was something I never saw coming,” Campbell commented.
Campbell was eager to put that disappointment behind him by coaching at another club. However, good friend Ernie Merrick, coach of Melbourne Victory, convinced him the time was right to step back from an active role in football. "He advised me to take a break from the game, to relax and recharge the batteries," Campbell said. "He told me a bigger club would come along at the right time. It was good advice as there is no bigger club in local football than the Perth Soccer Club."
In the job only a few days, Campbell is already planning for next season. "We will sit down in the coming weeks regards to players, coaches and the likes," he explained. "Obviously I've got a few players in mind and there are probably a lot of players who would want to play for this football club. Perth has the strongest squad in the state, and hopefully there are not too many players moving on but we will have to wait and see."
During his two-year absence from coaching Campbell has remained a keen supporter of the local game. "I've watched a game each week since I've been away from coaching," he explained. "There are some quality players in this league, and I agree with Normo that a number of them should be playing in the A-League. But they've not been given that opportunity so maybe we can get a few to our club next season."
Campbell will also look to within the club to keep them at the top of the State League tree. "Perth have good youth development - the under-18s won the League and Cup double last season - and I've always said if you're good enough it doesn't matter how old you are," he commented. "Like I said, I have a few fresh ideas and I'll sit down with Joe and the committee to discuss things and make sure we get it right to continue the success of the Perth Soccer Club."
INTERNATIONAL STARS JOIN GLORY WOMEN
Perth Glory Women will have a strong international favour in their quest for a maiden W-League finals appearance. In a huge boost for the club, coach John Gibson has recruited Denmark goalkeeper Tine Cederkvist and Sweden defender Alexandra Nilsson while retaining Australia trio Collette McCallum and Kate Gill and Sam Kerr.
Gibson has been pleased with the way his squad has come together for the new season. “I’m very happy with the squad in terms of quality and depth, the international signings are a huge boost for us,” Gibson said. “We’ve have seen some good improvements with the group in the last twelve months and Season Three will be very intense and standard of the competition will be very high. Our goal will be to improve on last year and push for finals.”
Cederkvist, 31, will lend considerable experience to the Glory rearguard having represented Denmark on 47 occasions. Nilsson, 24, joins the club fresh from a spell as captain of Swedish team Sunnana. Lara Filocamo, Jaymee Gibbons and Emily Dunn have been drawn from the local scene with Bunbury-based Kathleen Waycott selected as back-up ‘keeper.
The new signings join a strong core of established players such as captain Tanya Oxtoby and fellow defender Carys Hawkins, last seasons player of the year Shannon May and Matilda’s Kerr, McCallum and Gill. Foundation player Stacey Learmont returns to the side after missing last season for family reasons, and American import Alex Singer is back for a second year.
A notable absence from the squad is Matildas striker Lisa De Vanna, who now looks set to join another former Glory player, Ella Mastrantonio, at Melbourne Victory. “Unfortunately we’ve had to make some hard decisions on the squad for upcoming season and Lisa didn’t fit into the plans of the future direction of the team over the next few years,” said Gibson in explaining De Vanna’s axing.
The 2010/11 Perth Glory Women squad is Tine Cederkvist, Elisa D’Ovidio, Emily Dunn, Lara Filocamo, Jaymee Gibbons, Kate Gill, Carys Hawkins, Sam Kerr, Sadie Lawrence, Stacey Learmont, Collette McCallum, Shannon May, Alexandra Nilsson, Tanya Oxtoby, Alexandra Singer, Marianna Tabain and Kathleen Waycott. Their season commences next Saturday, 7 November, with a home fixture against Canberra United.
MARINERS REEL IN LIFELESS GLORY
The crisis at Perth Glory has deepened following this evening’s 5-0 loss to Central Coast Mariners at the Sydney Football Stadium. The Mariners were always in control with Rostyn Griffiths, Matt Simon, Adam Kwasnik, Matthew Lewis and a last-minute own goal ensuring they climbed to third on the table. Glory coach Ian Ferguson may have made five changes to his line-up but not even that was enough to prevent his side from losing for the seventh game in a row.
The Mariners quickly gained the ascendancy against an opponent devoid of inspiration, confidence and any great enthusiasm. A downward Simon header was scrambled off the line by the Glory defence, Tando Velaphi used his legs to keep out Daniel McBreen’s close-range effort and a cross-come-shot by Michael McGlinchey almost snuck under the cross bar. Their persistence was rewarded on 37 minutes when Griffiths drifted unchecked deep into the 18-yard box to head in an Oliver Bozanic free-kick.
The flow of goals continued on the hour when Mustafa Amini’s defence splitting pass put clear McBreen,who unselfishly centred for an unmarked Simon to net. A neat build-up by McBreen and Alex Wilkinson culminated in Kwasnik scoring with his first touch after coming off the bench in the 78th minute. Fellow substitute Lewis got in on the act eight minutes by applying a clinical finish after a through ball from McGlinchey. Sekulovski then summed up Glory’s night when he clumsily fired into his own net while attempting to clear a Lewis cross.
Post-game, Ferguson admitted he had lost patience with the Glory players. “Tonight’s performance and goals conceded was unacceptable,” said a clearly frustrated coach. “It was embarrassing at times. At times we did look one-paced. The Mariners did look a lot sharper and brighter. The time has come for changes. I’ve persevered and stuck by a lot of players and now I need to get some young blood in there … It’s seven defeats in a row now and it’s not good enough.”
KNIGHTS PAY TRIBUTE TO ANNALL
David Annall’s decade of loyalty is recognised tomorrow when Western Knights host a testimonial game in his honour. Knights’ greats of yesteryear will rub shoulders with the Premiership wining players of the past two seasons to pay tribute to team captain Annall, widely regarded one of the State League’s best defenders of the last decade. “I’ve always tried to go about my business on the park as unnoticed as possible,” said Annall, humbly. “It’s great to get acknowledged by your fellow players and supporters but I’d trade those achievements for a few more Cups or Leagues any day.”
Annall, 29, has collected numerous trophies and awards in a distinguished career but says it’s the atmosphere and friendships he’s made at the Knights that has kept him loyal to the club. “It may sound a bit clichéd but the club has always had great people around it and that’s the main reason why I’ve stuck around for so long,” he said. “I’ve always played the game for the love of it, and what better place to do that than with people you enjoy to play amongst and play for. I’ve made a lot of life-long friends down there and have enjoyed every moment.”
A junior with Sorrento and Perth SC, Annall played first team at Bayswater City as a teenager before being lured to the Knights in 2000 by then coach Ronnie Campbell. By the end of his first season Annall had in his possession a State League Cup winners’ medal. “I knew more trophies would come with the players Ronnie and Willie (Kelly) had attracted to the club. They had a winning mentality that was passed onto the players that helped us add to the trophy case through the years,” commented Annall, voted the Knights Fairest and Best in 2001 and a Night Series winner in 2003.
Annall rates the team of 2004, when the Knights finished nine-points clear at the top of the Premier League then defeated Sorrento in the Top Five Series final, as probably the best he has played in. “It was a very successful year for the club and was certainly a highlight for me. The side we had then had some great players and would be close to the strongest I’ve played with,” said Annall, whose standing was further enhanced by a second Fairest and Best (2006) and two Players Player of the Year (2005 and 2009) wins.
Captaining the Knights to victory over Sorrento in the 2008 State League Cup final also ranks highly for Annall. “We had a season most of us would have liked to forget and Sorrento had won the Premier League only weeks prior so everyone had written us off before the game,” he said. “It was a great feeling to come out on top and accept the Cup on behalf of the players. And sending someone like Paul Cooke out of the game with a Cup win is always going to memorable - especially after he scored with his head!”
When asked to select his Knights all-stars Annall found it difficult to limit his selection to eleven players. “I’ve played alongside some players who I have a lot of respect for,” he said. “My squad would include guys like Tommi Tomich, Evan Wallace, Andy Wright, Jason Williams, Ivan Zuvela, Leon Russell, Alex Christie, Scott Devine, Paul Cooke, Paul McVittie, Stuart Montgomery, Carl Medica, Daniel Trim, Eugene Singeorzan and Joe Vaz … and that’s just to name a few!”
The David Annall Testimonial Match kicks off tomorrow, Saturday 30 October, at 3.00pm with festivities expected to continue long into the night with food and drinks in the Nash Field clubrooms. The championship wining coaching team of Campbell and Willie Kelly will take charge of a team each selected from McVittie, Medica, Trim Morgan, Christie, Wallace, Dean Nicolaou, John Nicolaou, Zuvela, Montgomery, Cooke, Trim, John Thornley, David Price, Frazer Siddall, Stuart Ferguson, Duncan Hind and Garth Lecky.
GLORY YOUTH FIRE UP FOR THE JETS (courtesy perthglory.com.au)
Perth Glory Youth are confident they will be able to snag three points from Saturday’s game at Newcastle Jets. Midfielder Cameron Edwards says the disappointment of successive losses has increased the teams hunger for a win, and provided the extra determination they need to get over the line against the Jets. “It has been pretty disappointing but the morale among the group is still pretty high because we know what we’re capable of doing. We haven’t taken our chances, but we won’t let that happen again,” Edwards said.
Edwards says the squad has been working to improve their on-field communication and are looking to get on the front foot early. “We’ve had chances that we haven’t put away. When you don’t communicate properly, they score and after that you lose a bit of confidence and it’s down hill from there,” h said. “We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing and capitalise on our chances when we get them. We need to be more vigilant in the back and keep on our toes so we aren’t conceding anymore early goals.”
Like Glory, Newcastle are coming off a two-match losing streak so there’s no doubt both will come out fighting. “Newcastle is a good side but I think we’ll do pretty well against them. We had a couple of really good wins against them last year so we’re feeling pretty confident,” commented Edwards. “If we play the way we have been in the first halves we’ve played then we should do very well.” A delayed blow-by-blow account of the Jets-Glory National Youth League will be broadcast on 990am from 2.00pm tomorrow.
GERMANY TOO GOOD FOR MATILDAS
The Matildas have been narrowly beaten 2-1 by world champion Germany in last night's friendly at Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg. Perth Glory striker Sam Kerr put Australia in front midway through the first half, however, the hosts struck back soon after through Inka Grings with Martina Muller hitting a second half winner. "We played against the best team in the world. "I am happy with the effort - I am happy with the commitment," coach Tom Sermanni said. "We wanted to be competitive and get experience. We showed a good overall performance and I am pleased with the way things went."
Germany's dominance of the opening exchanges counted for little when Kerr delicately chipped over goalkeeper Urulsa Holl in the 28th minute after being found by Collette McCallum. But the lead lasted only eight minutes before Fatmire Bajramaj's cross was lashed into the net by Grings, giving 'keeper Melissa Barbieri no chance. The match was decided on 71 minutes when Muller pushed the ball past Barbieri, who had parried the striker's initial shot. Glory trio McCallum, Kerr and Katie Gill started the game, the latter replaced after 80 minutes, while Lydia Williams was an unused substitute.
DAVIES IN INTERNATIONAL LIMBO
Exciting young midfielder Julius Davies remains a footballer without a country. Davies, 16, arrived in Western Australia five years ago after escaping the civil war in Sierra Leone, which claimed the lives of his parents. Now contracted to German club Bayern Munich, Davies has been denied the chance to play for Australia by international rules designed to stop the exploitation of young players. “I can’t understand it,” Davies told the ‘Daily Telegraph’. “I went to high school in Australia, my friends are all there, it’s where my home is. I miss it like you wouldn’t believe. Yet the rules say I can’t play for them, or anyone.”
Born in Sierra Leone, Davies fled the country when civil war overtook his family. After his parents were murdered, Davies and his sister, Olive, eventually made their way to Perth where the pair were quickly granted citizenship. Davies’ talent saw him play a season with Dianella White Eagles before entering the National Training Centre program, which in turn lead to his call-up for the Australian Under-17 side in 2008. But a FIFA campaign designed to stop the trafficking of young talent, particularly from Africa, required Davies to have lived in Australia five years.
A number of genuine young migrants, particularly former refugees, were at risk of being ruled ineligible for their new countries, and so Australia led the campaign for appeals to be allowed. FIFA agreed to case by case exemptions but only when a player under 18 had been resident in a country for five continuous years. Davies had at this stage been in Australia for four years and was therefore ruled ineligible for the Joeys, despite Football Federation Australia’s lengthy entreaties to FIFA. FFA’s promise that a year later he would be back in the Joeys fold meant little to a young teen with few reasons to trust in fate.
Money in the Davies household was tight, so when the chance came to trial with Bayern Munich in early 2009, they leapt at it. The problem is that it took Davies away from Australia before his five years were up. Australian football officials say they weren’t told of his move; but friends in Perth say that there had been no contact from FFA since he was cut from the Joeys, so he had no reason to. Fast forward eighteen months and Davies is part of Bayern’s Under-17 team coached by Stefan Beckenbauer, son of Germany’s World Cup winning captain Franz Beckenbauer.
But as things stand today Davies can’t play for any international side for at least another four years. There hasn’t been a case like this before, so no one knows if FIFA would accept his reasons for leaving Australia when he did. But in every appeal granted so far, the five years’ living in a country requirement has been emphasised. “It’s every players dream to pull on the shirt of his country, and I’m no different,” said Davies, who would dearly love to represent Australia at next years Under-17 World Cup in Mexico. “It would make me so happy, and I think I’m good enough.”
SHAMROCK SHOW FAITH IN MCCUE
Paul McCue has been confirmed to lead Shamrock Rovers into their inaugural State League season. Shamrock recently accepted promotion to Division One after storming their way to the Sunday League premiership under the guidance of McCue. “I’m very happy that the committee at the Rovers have shown faith in Damien Pugh and myself and given us the opportunity to coach in these new and exciting times for the club,” 34-year old McCue said. “Having Damien as my assistant is a great move by the club. He did a great job coaching our reserves last season and I know that we will work very well together as a team.”
Scotland-born McCue moved to Australia as a teenager and played most of his senior football at Shamrock. “I’ve mainly played in the green and white for the Rovers, although I had short spells at Perth Italia and Stirling Macedonia,” McCue said. “I started coaching in 2007 with Shamrock reserves, and then took over as first team coach after nine games, due to Mick Murray’s illness, and won the reserves Cup and first team league Premiership. I moved on and coached Perth Royal’s first team in 2008 for one season, finishing third in the league, and have since been back at Shamrock Rovers.”
McCue is looking forward to the challenges offered by Shamrock’s first season as a semi-professional club. “The boys were very disappointed at finishing second in 2009 and they showed lots of determination and commitment to win the league this season,” he said. “To only lose two games throughout the season, one of which was after the league was won, was a tremendous effort from everyone involved. We all know that moving into Saturday Division One will be a tough challenge for the club. We intend being a very competitive side with all the players from last season returning with the addition of a few new faces to make a strong squad of players even stronger for the difficult challenge ahead.”
FERGUSON TO MAKE MORE CHANGES
Marquee player Robbie Fowler faces the axe as Ian Ferguson attempts to end Perth Glory's six-game losing streak against Central Coast Mariners on Saturday. Ferguson has dropped several high-profile players, including Mile Sterjovski and Andy Todd, since taking over as coach a fortnight ago and hinted there'd be disappointment for a few more this weekend. "There's going to be some changes," Ferguson said before flying out to Sydney with the team on Thursday. "I've not made it clear to them (the players) but the way I've done things and set things up (in training) it should be that they should pick some stuff up if they're smart enough."
Fowler lacked his usual spark in last week's 3-0 loss to Sydney as he struggled to shake off the effects of a long flight back from England earlier in the week. Ferguson admitted he erred in starting the 35-year old but gave little away when asked whether Fowler would start again this week. "Yeah look he trained well this week again, he came back and looked fantastic in training," Ferguson said. "We'll shake things up this week and whether Robbie's playing or he's not playing we'll try and get the best out of what's on the park."
Glory were booed off the park by their fans after last week's dismal home loss to Sydney FC but Ferguson pleaded for patience ahead of games with Central Coast, Melbourne Heart and Wellington Phoenix in the space of eight days. "I know the fans are impatient, I know we've lost a few in a row and it's not good," he said. "I just ask them to be patient with us and hopefully we'll get it right sooner rather than later. There is a lot of games coming up and it is something make or break. I believe the quality we've got here will get us out."
MICEVSKI THE KNIGHTS NUMBER ONE
Classy midfielder David Micevski has been named Western Knights’ Fairest and Best for the second time in three years. Micevski, 24, has been integral in the Knights back-to-back Premiership winning side and feels honoured to have his named added to the clubs honour roll for a second time. “To win this trophy twice is obviously memorable,” he said. “There have been some great players at the Knights, both past and present, and it’s an honour to be amongst the winners.”
While pleased his on-field contributions have been recognised, Micevski says the achievements of the team by far outweigh those of the individual. “It’s always nice winning awards and being recognised but the true highlight this season was being crowned Premiers for the second year straight,” he said. “In addition to that we made the Night Series final and the Grand Final, which is a fantastic achievement. Everyone involved at the club should be congratulated for another great season.”
Knights veteran David Annall was Fairest and Best Runner-up with Stuart Montgomery awarded the Golden Boot for a fifth time. Towering defender Stuart Ferguson went home with the Players Player of the Year and Best Clubman trophies. Marco Warmt-Murray won the Reserves Fairest and Best ahead of Ryan Shackleton with Philip Gorecki collecting the Coaches Award. The Youth trophies were presented to Josh Kidman (Fairest and Best), Farran Batchelor (Runner-up) and Nick Psanoudakis (Coaches Award).
REGULATIONS KEEP COYNE COOLING HIS HEELS
Chris Coyne will return to Perth Glory next month but don’t expect to see him in the purple stripes any time soon. The 31-year old defender would be a welcome addition to the Glory line-up, however, he will be limited to a training ground role until January because of transfer regulations flowing on fom his loan to Chinese club Liaoning Hongyun. “I don’t take too kindly to watching games, especially when I feel I should be out there,” Coyne told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “But if I can come into the dressing room and help the younger players and be a voice through the gaffer, at least it’s something.”
Coyne made the move to China at the end of last season, hoping he could prompt then Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek to include him in Australia’s World Cup squad. That dream vanished and after extending his contract with Liaoning he received another blow when told he would not be able to play for Glory, who have lost their last six matches to fall from first to eighth place, until next year. “As soon as the A-League season started I was itching to get back but there was nothing we could do to change the circumstances,” he said.
Coyne will be available for Glory’s last eight matches, by which time he expects the team to have emerged from the turmoil to challenge the A-League’s top sides. “When you’ve got that sort of quality in the dressing room you’ve got every chance of not just turning it around but of going on with it,” he said. “It’s not just about working hard in training. It’s about going out there and doing the business on match day. You don’t get paid to train - you get paid to win games.” Coyne is confident Glory can grind out a result as early this weekend when they travel to Central Coast Mariners.
VALE WILLIE RUTHERFORD
The Australian football community is in mourning following the passing of former Socceroo Willie Rutherford aged 65. Born in Scotland, Rutherford played with East Fife and Forfar Athletic before emigrating to Australia in 1968, where he joined the Hakoah club in Sydney. He represented Australia six times as they attempted to qualify for the 1970 World Cup, and later played in Hong Kong for Kwong Wah.
Rutherford moved to Perth in 1978 and played with Perth Azzurri, Forrestfield United, Spearwood Dalmatinac, Stirling Macedonia, Morley Windmills, Maccabi and Floreat Athena. An avid fan of Perth Glory, he was regularly seen at Perth Oval supporting his local A-League club. Rutherford, who passed away on Sunday 24 October, is survived by two brothers, Harry and John, ex-wife Marris and children Tim and Annmarie.
SKORICH’S TIME TO SHINE
Anthony Skorich is ready to let his football do the talking after an injury-interrupted last few seasons with Perth Glory. The former Western Knights striker gave a good account of himself in Glory’s recent game at North Queensland Fury, where Skorich showed no regard for life and limb as he rode a couple of tackles before cutting the ball back for an unmarked Michael Baird to tuck into the net. But those who saw Skorich, 20, in action for the first time against North Queensland would know little of the injury setbacks the youngster has gone endured.
It was as a Knights player that Skorich rose to prominence, making his first team debut in 2007 and that same year gaining State Schoolboys honours. So when David Mitchell turned his eye to the local game in search of recruits it didn't take much to convince the then Glory coach to make a move on Skorich. "He (Mitchell) came and watched a few State League games and a Night Series game and after the game he asked me to come down to training," explained Skorich, who played a season with Glory Youth before signing a two-year professional contract.
Skorich made a handful of appearances late in 2008/09 before a serious ankle injury intervened. "The last two seasons have gone a bit off the rails with injuries," he admitted. "I've had two operations on my ankle, full reconstruction and I've also got a piece of floating bone in the back of my ankle, in my Achilles tendon. When you put pressure on your foot, I think the bone rubs against the tendon or rubs against something and creates this pain right up your leg. It's a sharp pain always up your heel and up your leg, so it wasn't pleasant that's for sure."
The injury first flared up when Skorich was with the Knights. "It's been giving me trouble for the last five years (but) I've been playing on it," he added. "In State League you've got physios that don't usually know much, they're usually students, so to come here (to Glory) and to fix it up, it's taken me a while to get it right. It's been a long process ... three years and I'm finally starting to consistently be in the team even on the bench or starting. So I just want to continue what I'm doing and hopefully get some more game time."
WILSON SURPRISED TO WIN STIRLING’S TOP PRIZE
Imposing centre half Bobby Wilson celebrated his first season with Stirling Lions by taking home their top prize, the Players Player of the Year, from Saturday’s presentation ceremony. Wilson, signed from English side Stafford Rangers, settled quickly into life at Macedonia Park where he was an integral part of their successes. “I was very surprised to get the top award - and really happy I got it,” he said. “It’s been a good settling in season. We deserved to win more than we did, however, second in the league and a Cup winners medal ain’t bad for our first season.”
Stirling’s Fairest and Best trophy was presented to one-time Middlesbrough defender Jason Gavin, who partnered Wilson at club level as well as in the State team which played Perth Glory mid-season. Ludovic Boi and Michael Pugliese, who both rose up through the youth ranks at Stirling, were joint Fairest and Best Runners-Up. Mario Marcinko’s ten regular season finishes earned the big striker the Golden Boot.
Livewire midfielder David Sesay has his name added to the Reserves honours list as recipient of the Fairest and Best ahead of Adriano D’Adamo. The Players Player of the Year was presented to reliable defender Dennis Galan. Rising star Ndumba Makeche, who scored his first senior goal in Stirling’s last game of the season, picked up the Golden Boot.
The youth team Fairest and Best was taken out by Edward Pop who finished ahead of Mitchell Crocker in counting. Ben Meredith and Boas Mtwale shared the Coaches Award, the Golden Boot went home with Moses Kalua with Dylan Filicamo the clubs’ Most Outstanding Junior. Long Serving Volunteers were also honoured with club treasurer/secretary Louie Adamos, youth development coach Joe Pugliese and president Don Evans recognised.
THE FIGHT FOR GLORY Not the Footy Show)
If a week is a long time in football then the last fortnight must feel like an eternity for Perth Glory. The club has slumped to an all-time low losing six consecutive games, the head coach has moved upstairs, an assistant coach resigned and the lowest crowd of the season witnessed their most insipid performance of the summer so far. It was best summed up by one of the players after Sunday’s loss to Sydney FC when he said “there are not enough winners in the squad, and too many players don’t hurt when we lose.”
There is no denying that the levelling of the playing field with the A-League salary cap has hurt Glory immensely, with players looking to only cross the Nullarbor if no one on the east coast wants them. There was a good feeling when Dave Mitchell lured Jacob Burns, Mile Sterjovski and Chris Coyne to the club and there was a lot of hype surrounding the signing of Robbie Fowler. But questions have to be asked as to some of the decisions that have been made in the past year.
How can the club justify signing youth team players on two-year deals when they are yet to prove themselves? If you signed players such as Howard Fondyke, Brent Griffiths, Tommy Amphlett and Josh Risdon to such deals then you must look to bring that talent through. I’m not suggesting these players are not good enough but to give them two-year deals seems crazy as it closes off places in the squad. Surely one-year deals with a carrot that says if you make the bench or the starting line-up on ‘X’ occasions you will earn a second year makes more sense.
That aside, recent performances have shown the squad lacks quality. Michael Baird may be quick but he’s never set the world alight, from 467 games he has scored just 68 goals. Josh Mitchell has struggled and one wonders if he will play again this season. Victor Sikora has only just reappeared but why was he not put on the long-term injury list and a replacement brought in? Chris Coyne went to China but did Glory have adequate cover knowing they could not bring him back until the January transfer window?
One crucial issue that seems to be overlooked is the year-by-year renewal of the coach’s contract based on where the team finishes in the league. With such a clause you are always going to have a coach who signs journeyman players capable of securing his position for another season, while sacrificing quality second tier players. If Tony Sage gave his coach time to build a side - Mitchell had three seasons but always with a built-in condition - he can afford to blood young talent with a view to achieving the goals in a two or three-year period.
Robbie Fowler was a great signing from a marketing position, but what about from a football perspective? In pre-season the team looked sharp without their star signing. Fowler was then brought into the side and they changed the style of play to accommodate the veteran. Let’s face facts - playing him in the hole has not worked, it puts added pressure on the midfield and effectively has the team playing with ten men. Gone are the overlapping runs down the flanks, and the attacking methods that had served the club so well in the past.
Before the season started Mitchell said Fowler would not play every game, he would be used carefully to maximise his effectiveness, yet he has played in ten of the eleven games so far. That raises the question ‘Are the coaching staff being forced to play him?’ If so the club is doomed as a coach should never be dictated to as to who he plays. Surely Fowler should be playing on the last man and told to run for 40 minutes if that is all he has in the tank, and hopefully nick a goal for the side rather than stroll around as a peripheral player.
It is abundantly clear Ian Ferguson needs to make further changes for the game against Central Coast Mariners. He needs to find the players who hurt as much as he does after a loss, who take pride in being a professional player and wearing the Perth Glory shirt. The question is, are there eleven such people in the squad? This weekend will make or break the season, and it may also determine the future of Glory as a club. The players who take the park need to know they are playing for the club’s future survival as well as their own - and that anything below 100% is unacceptable.
ERGIC SCORES AS BURSASPOR STAY TOP
A first half goal blitz has extended Bursaspor’s lead at the top of Turkey’s Super League. Bursaspor, the defending league champions, hit five unanswered goals to see off Ankaragucu 5-1 on Sunday with former State junior Ivan Ergic amongst the scorers. Ankaragucu made a quick start, going ahead after 6 minutes, but that was soon cancelled out by Ibrahim Ozturk. Turgay Bahadir and Omer Erdogan netted before Ergic put away their fourth goal on 39 minutes with Sercan Yildirim completing the route just before half-time. The win keeps Bursaspor three points ahead of Trabzonspor with nine games played.
GLORY LACKS HUNGER: FERGUSON
Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson has blasted his players following yesterday's dismal home loss to Sydney FC. Although there were some good passages of play from Glory, Ferguson feels his teams lack of desire was behind a new club record of six consecutive losses. "I didn't see any hunger today," was Ferguson's brutally direct appraisal of the game. "I've seen Sydney wanting that game more than us, which is quite disturbing 'cause we're playing at home and I was expecting bigger and better things today."
Glory was guilty of conceding possession cheaply and failing to close down opponents against Sydney. "It wasn't good enough pure and simple. Bad performance, not Perth Glory-like," added Ferguson, whose shouldered some of the responsibility. "We were giving the ball away (and) we couldn't hold the ball up. So I take the blame, I hold my hands up. I put the team on the park and it's up to me to try and get this fixed and get the players ready for next week."
Ferguson knows he faces a huge challenge ensuring the club doesn't get stuck with a losing mentality. "It's a bad habit we're in and it's one we need to try and get out of as quickly as possible," Ferguson said. "It's six in a row we've lost. Hopefully we can try and turn that around ... There's no easy formula here, there's no magic wand. We've got to get there and work hard. Everybody's low at this moment, we've got to try and pick them up for next week."
RUKAVYTSYA OUT OF ACTION
Hertha Berlin paid a hefty price for defeating Greuther Futh on Friday with team captain Andre Mijatovic and Socceroos striker Nikita Rukavytsya added to the injury list. Mijatovic looks like missing up to eight weeks after fracturing a bone in his lower leg midway through the second half. That loss was compounded a few minutes later when Rukavytsya signalled to the bench with what was later revealed to be a torn thigh muscle. Club officials are hopeful Rukavytsya will be available for selection in a fortnight.
CAZARINE AT THE DOUBLE AS GLORY LOSE AGAIN
Perth Glory's losing streak continued with this afternoon's 3-0 defeat to Sydney FC at Perth Glory. A brace to Bruno Cazarine and Alex Brosque's third goal of the season saw Sydney claim three prized points while condemning Glory to sixth straight losses. "We let down the fans, we let down everyone at the club, we've just got to rebuild from there," a disconsolate Glory captain Jacob Burns said. "You've got to win you're battles. We didn't, we were second to every ball, and you just can't do that. We're lacking that drive, lacking that urgency and now we really have to dig down and see what we're about."
Sydney needed only a few minutes before threatening through a Nick Carle shot from the edge of the 18-yard box that was saved low by goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski. Soon after Cazarine fired over the crossbar after the home team managed to only half-clear a Hirofumi Moriyasu corner. Stung into action, Glory started to get more involved and on 12 minutes Michael Baird got in between 'keeper Ivan Necevski and Stephan Keller but his lob was cleared by Hayden Foxe. A teasing Adriano Pellegrino cross from the right was mis-judged by Necevski with Baird's back post header going just past the post.
Shannon Cole's curling free-kick was palmed away by Vrteski at full-stretch as Sydney responded. The visitors had the lead after 25 minutes, Cazarine's close-range header flashing past Vrteski after meeting a Sung-Hwan Byun free-kick at the back post. Glory was fortunate not to concede again when Cazarine glanced just wide after meeting a Hirofumi Moriyasu cross from the right. Scott Neville ensured there would be no further addition to the scoreline with his perfectly-timed last-gasp challenge foiling Alex Brosque as he prepared to pull the trigger from close-range.
The second half was eight minutes old when Sydney added a second to their tally with Brosque ramming the ball in from just inside the area after Cazarine's header from a Shannon Cole cross was blocked. This prompted Glory boss Ian Ferguson to go to his bench, bringing on Mile Sterjovski and Ryan Pearson for Baird and Pellegrino. The changes almost yielded an immediate result with Branko Jelic heading just off-target after climbing high to meet an in-swinging Todd Howarth cross. Strong claims for a Glory penlaty were then dismissed after Jelic's flick struck the arm of Stephan Keller.
Vrteski came to the rescue again on 71 minutes, superbly tipping Brosque's powerful shot around the post after fine lead-up work by captain Terry McFlynn. As the game moved into it's final quarter Sydney went into their shells a little, understandably content to get numbers back behind the ball and sit on their two-goal advantage. Glory struggled against a disciplined defence typified by Cole's desperate block from a goal-bound Steven McGarry effort. Cazarine put the icing on Sydney's cake with seven minutes left by fending off Harnwell and Jamie Coyne before calmly angling a low shot past an exposed 'keeper.
SYDNEY PUNISH MISTAKES BY GLORY YOUTH
Perth Glory Youth stumbled to their second loss in a row by going down 2-0 to Sydney FC on a sunny afternoon at 6PR Stadium. Plying with the aid of a strong breeze, the Sky Blues took the lead through Dimitri Petratos with Kofi Danning doubling their advantage just before the half hour. Sydney's first win of the campaign moves them off the bottom of the National Youth League table as Glory slip down to fourth.
The home team made a positive start with Sydney goalkeeper Dylan Mitchell forced to save Billy Quinncroft's close-range attempt. Cameron Edwards had the ball in the net but turned to see the linesman controversially rule Quinncroft to be offside. Sydney took advantage of these missed chances by going ahead after 16 minutes when Brent Griffiths failure to clear a long ball forward was pounced on by Danning, who neatly passed it off for Petratos to slam in.
Glory's misery was compounded on 28 minutes when Griffiths' under-hit backpass forced Alex Pearson to desperately come off his line, however, Danning got to the ball first and gently lobbing over the 'keeper to double Sydney's lead. The home team responded with Edwards' chip shot landing on the top netting while Andrija Jukic's heavy touch saw a good chance go begging close to goal. Sydney should have been further ahead at the break but a Danning shot came back off the inside of the post..
Glory started with greater intensity after the break with Brandon O'Neill's curling shot smacking against the upright eight minutes in. Howard Fondyke then had a shot saved by the 'keeper, before substitute Sahr Musa was pulled up for offside after racing onto a Storm Roux pass from the left. Sydney came back into the game late in the piece and captain Joel Chianese should have done better than sky over the crossbar from 2-metres before seeing a later effort palmed around the post by the quick-thinking Pearson.
MATILDAS FALL AT FINAL HURDLE
The Matildas crashed to a 2-1 defeat by Korea Republic in today's final of the 2010 Peace Queen Cup at the Suwon World Cup Stadium. Australia, the reigning Asian Cup holders, entered the game as firm favourite but succumbed as the host nation found the net once in each half to claim their first ever Peace Queen Cup title. Collette McCallum and adopted West Australian Katie Gill featured in all three games whereas Sam Kerr and goalkeeper Lydia Williams had one start each.
While disappointed to lose the final to Korea, coach Tom Sermanni was pleased with the overall effort of his players. "Considering where we are at the moment, with most of the players in pre-season and a few players missing, I was very happy with the effort today," said the Australia coach. "We lacked a little bit of cohesion and didn't play the normal flowing football that we like. All these matches are good preparation for us in the lead up to next year's World Cup."
The Matildas kicked-off their campaign with a commanding 3-1 win over Mexico. McCallum curled a free-kick into the top corner after 26 minutes, and soon after Gill's flicked header made it two-nil. Sally Shipard spectacularly volleyed in from just outside the centre circle on 63 minutes after which Maribel Dominguez converted at close-range. Kerr played the full game, McCallum was replaced at half-time, Gill on 72 minutes while Williams was an unused substitute.
Gill's first half header earned Australia a 1-0 win against Chinese Taipei and a spot in the tournament final. A dozen minutes had passed when Tameka Butt's corner found Gill, whose header gave Feng Huang with no chance. Australia had numerous chances to increase their lead but Servet Uzunlar, Gill and Caitlin Munoz were off-target whereas the goalkeeper denied Teigen Allen and Kyah Simon. Williams and McCallum played full games, Gill was replaced after 59 minutes and Kerr was an unused substitute.
Korea Republic got their hands on the Peace Queen Cup by out-shooting Australia 2-1 in today's final. The hosts opened the scoring in the 16th minute through Kim Narae's free-kick from an acute angle, and on 56 minutes Jeon Gaeul put away their second in a one-on-one with Melissa Barbieri. Gill pegged a goal back, heading a cross into the top corner, but the closest Australia would come to equalising was Simon's long-range Simon effort that Jun Minkyung tipped over. McCallum and Gill played full games with Williams and Kerr unused substitutes.
FERGUSON PUTS PLAYERS ON NOTICE
Ian Ferguson has warned his underperforming Perth Glory squad that careers are hanging in the balance as they attempt to break a demoralising five-game losing streak. On the eve of Glory's home game against an as yet winless Sydney FC Ferguson has laid down the law. "There's big expectations here at the club and I've made it clear to them that second best is not good enough," Ferguson said. "I've told the players this ... I don't believe it's about the coaching here, I believe it's now about the hunger and the desire and determination from certain individuals and that's what I'm looking for.
Ferguson promises to wield the axe in the wake of his side's poor run. "I will be making some changes, there's no doubt about that. There's probably a few people that have had a few chances and now and it's time to mix it up and give some opportunities to other people," said the coach. "I would like to stamp my authority and get my own team and get my own players in there but ... these are the boys we've got, these are the boys we've got to get through the season with. There is opportunity there. Even the ones coming out of contract, nothing's signed, sealed and delivered from anyone at the moment. We've got to get an impact from them and if they want to be here they've got to show me they want to be here."
MORLEY REVOLUTION BEGINS WITH TODARO
Salv Todaro has set in motion an overhaul of Morley Windmills aimed at returning them to top flight football for the first time in well over a decade. Todaro spoke excitedly of his new job after accepting the senior coaching position at Wotton Reserve earlier this week. “I am really excited about the challenges that lie ahead with Morley, not from just a senior’s perspective but from a whole of club prospective,” Todaro said. “We’ll look at revitalising the junior program and stabilising the senior set up, plus there are a number of other areas that have been identified as needing attention.”
Todaro threw his hat into the ring with Morley after it became clear he was no longer required by Balcatta who, just twelve months ago, he led to the Division One championship. “My tenure with Balcatta had come to an end and it was obvious that they were not going to be considering me going forward,” explained Todaro, who took Balcatta to eighth in their inaugural Premier League campaign. “I wanted to keep being involved in football so I forwarded my application to the club, and I am delighted to have secured the coaching position at one of past giants of the game in WA football.”
Balcatta enjoyed a level of success not previously experienced during Todaro’s three years in charge. Just months after taking over Balcatta had won the 2008 Division One Night Series, and by the end of his second season they’d gained promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their 32-year history. “I am very proud in the achievements that occurred during the three years that I was at the club. I don’t think anyone really envisaged that Balcatta would be in the position that it finds itself now when I started there,” Todaro said. “But I am very disappointed in the events that have occurred during the last five or six weeks.”
Todaro feels he is leaving Balcatta are in a stronger position than when he joined the club. “They had a reputation of being more of a social club so I hope that I’ve given the club a more ‘professional’ outlook both on and off the field,” the out-going coach said. “They could become a major force in the Premier Division. Players that previously may have not thought about playing at Balcatta now consider them as a viable option. We have been able to give the many talented juniors the opportunity to stay with the club instead of them having to leave to play in the Premier Division.”
STRAKER IS NUMBER ONE AGAIN
Mandurah City custodian Phil Straker was rewarded for another outstanding season when presented the Goalkeeper of the Year at last weeks Gold Medal Awards ceremony. Straker, 26, says he was stunned when his name was read from the podium was winner of the award for the third time in four years. “It was a surprise. Everyone goes to these events hoping that they might take something home but I really didn’t expect to at all,” he said. “When I saw my name on the big screen I was just blown away. There have been some top performances from other ‘keepers this season and just to be named amongst them is an honour.”
2010 was a busy time for Straker with Mandurah toiling away at the wrong end of the Premier League table for much of the winter. “This season has definitely not been easy, every game has been hard fought. At home we seemed to join together and play some good football but it all went pear shaped when we travelled away from Mandurah, which I think is what kept us at the wrong end of the table,” said Straker, who expects a much improved performance next year. “The team we had last year had some young players in key positions and I think this experience could only have helped their game and that can only be a good thing for the club.”
PEARSON MAKES A TIMELY RETURN (with perthglory.com.au)
Perth Glory Youth will be bolstered by the return of Young Socceroos goalkeeper Alex Pearson for Saturday's game with Sydney FC at 6PR Stadium. Pearson has missed the last four games due to international duty and is looking forward to making his club first appearance of the new season. "I haven't played many games this year because I've been away so I'm really looking to getting my first game out," he said. "Hopefully I can start and the boys and I can have a good game and we can get another win on the board."
Pearson recently returned from China where although defeated by DPR Korea in the AFC Under-19 Championship final, the Young Socceroos qualified for next years Under-20 World Cup. "It was unfortunate that we didn't win but we were really happy to qualify for World Cup because that was our main goal from the beginning," he said. "It was an honour and a real bonus to be over there. Not many teenagers get to do something like this in their career and it was a really valuable experience."
The Glory youngsters are hoping to take full advantage of being back on home soil and make amends for last weeks disappointing loss to the Australian Institute of Sport. "The team is pretty strong this year, as we were last year. Last week was one of those games where nothing really goes right but this week I think we'll be good," Pearson commented. "Everyone is feeling really positive and we're ready and raring to go against Sydney." Perth Glory Youth and Sydney go head-to-head from 3.00pm on Saturday at 6PR Stadium.
MIKULIC INSTALLED AS FLOREAT’S CHAMPION
Branimir Mikulic's name has been added to the honour roll at Litis Stadium after being winning Floreat Athena's 2010 Fairest and Best award. The State attacker was named Floreat's top player at last weekend's presentation ceremony ahead of Adam Bachiller. "It's a great honour to receive this award, especially when there are so many good players at Floreat," said Mikulic, who was also the clubs top goal scorer after finding the net 19 times in home and away competition.
Although happy with his sixth season at Floreat, Mikulic feels he could have done more in the clubs quest for silverware. "It was a good season but not a great season," Mikulic said. "I could have scored more goals, I had a lot of good opportunities throughout games but didn't capitalise on them. That's one aspect of my game that I need to work on, being a bit more consistent."
Mikulic, 30, is adamant Floreat should have finished the regular season higher than fourth on the table. "We had a very inconsistent season this year. We played some great football at times, especially at the beginning of the season, but also played very ordinary at times," he explained. "I think we were very slow starters during games and that led to our downfall this season."
Bachiller's versatility was recognised with the Fairest and Best Runner-Up trophy. Conceding the fewest regular season goal earned Alex Dunn the Coaches Award. Rookie attacker Adam Wood picked up the Troy Bernard Rising Star award, and James Isaia was voted the Supporters Player of the Year. The Reserve team Fairest and Best award was presented to Michael Salsano, while Matt Spurling collected the top prize at Youth level.
WE’RE READY TO BOUNCE BACK: VRTESKI
Perth Glory goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski admits the A-League club's five-game losing streak has created uncertainty among the player group. Glory started the season in bright fashion but have since dramatically fallen off the pace, slipping to eighth on the table on the back of their club record losing run. "When the results aren't well ... there's a lot of, not necessarily negativity, but everyone kind of looks for who's going to stand up, who's going to take the next position," Vrteski said. "A couple of wins and things will change very quickly but at the moment everything just seems not to be bouncing for us … The team atmosphere has always been good, that's why it's so frustrating the fact we keep losing."
Vrteski made his first appearance of the season in the weekend loss to North Queensland Fury and is determined to hold onto his place in the line-up. "I hadn't played yet this season and to play on the weekend was awesome," said Vrteski, who had been cooling his heels while Tando Velaphi kept goal. "It gives me an opportunity so that's all I can ask, and if I put the runs on the board he'll (coach Ian Ferguson) keep me out there. As close as me and Tando are as friends, you know we are fighting for the same position and we'll always keep working hard. Tando, he was the first person to wish me luck on the weekend and I can't ask for anything more than that. And, I'm the same if he plays, I'll be the first one to wish him luck."
TIGHT DEFENCE BREEDS CONFIDENCE: DJULBIC
Dino Djulbic, the centrepiece of one of the A-League’s meanest defensive units, has expressed his delight at the foundations laid by Gold Coast United’s watertight back four. Gold Coast have conceded only six times in their first nine matches and Djulbic believes this strong platform gives the rest of the club great confidence for the trip down to Melbourne Heart on Saturday. “We’ve only lost one game, so the confidence is here and the team is buzzing,” he said. “We’ve got three away games in a row coming up and we’re confident of doing well.”
With the Heart entering the league this season, Djulbic admits there is some novelty in taking on the new kids on the block for the first time. But having examined the start to their debut season with a fine-toothed comb the big defender has a fair idea of what to expect from the Heart. “We’ve watched their games, analysed them and we know how they perform. They try to play football, which is good for us as it will suit what we want to do,” said Djulbic. “We haven’t conceded many goals although we haven’t scored as many as we would like, but we can certainly find the net away from home.”
QUINN GOES BACK-TO-BACK
Homegrown talent Patrick Quinn celebrated the winter season by taking out top honours at Bunbury Forum Force’s annual presentation ceremony on Saturday night. Quinn, a former State junior representative and current captain of Bunbury, collected the Fairest and Best award for the second year running. “It’s an honour to be recognised by my club and team mates for the second year,” commented Quinn. “The south west has been my home for the majority of my footballing career so winning this award obviously means allot to me.”
Quinn was happy with the quality of football Bunbury played this season. “We tried to play nice football and more often than not I think we succeeded,” said the midfielder, confident his team can build upon this seasons’ successes. “We had three additions this year but apart from that it was all local boys doing the job. The reserves finished top - that shows the level of depth in the region. Bunbury will again be strong next year, again be title contenders and maybe just maybe go one better.”
Versatile import Jordan Rispon was voted Fairest and Best Runner-Up with club stalwart James Bergin going home with the first team Coaches Award. Keiran Quinn dominated the Reserves awards with wins in the Fairest and Best along with Coaches Award. Striker Gino Comito was the sides Fairest and Best Runner-Up. At Youth level it was Carlo Chiellini who captured the eye to win the Fairest and Best. Hayden Montgomery was runner-up in the top category with the Coaches Award presented to Luke Smith.
LINCOLN GRATEFUL FOR SUPPORT
Premier League Coach of the Year Paul Lincoln is grateful for the support he’s received from the Stirling Lions players and hierarchy in his first year in charge. Lincoln stepped into the breach created by Mick Lyons’ departure in April and successfully guided the club to victory on Cup Final day. “It was really tough coming into the club during the season. There were things I wanted changing but to the lads credit they were terrific and worked really hard which was pleasing,” said Lincoln. “Don (Evans) has been fantastic since I arrived, he has a real passion for the club and I’m thankful for the opportunity he gave me.”
Stirling president Evans was instrumental in getting Lincoln to Stirling, and was understandably delighted with the Coach of the Year accolade. “It was a great recognition for Paul, who has worked his guts out for our club since arriving,” Evans said. “We looked at Paul’s performances with Swan United, he had done a magnificent job with a small player stock he had at his disposal there. We had built a strong squad at Macedonia Park and the committee and I thought what he could do if he had a strong squad to work with. He was a champion player at our club, he has the heart and passion and will to succeed, and he hasn’t let us down.”
In addition to lifting the State League Cup by defeating Floreat Athena, Lincoln took Stirling to second in the Premier League - just two points behind Western Knights - and into the end-of-season finals, where they were defeated by eventual State Champions Perth SC. “I would not say it was a great season but it could have been worse,” joked Lincoln, 41. “If you look at the positives the club improved from last season finishing runners- up in the league, played finals and winning the Cup was really special. I have learnt a lot this season and that will keep me and the players in good stead for next season.”
Lincoln rates his teams’ two late season showdowns with Floreat Athena as amongst their best of 2010. “The qualifying final against Floreat - which we won 9-8 on penalties - was a great game but I can not go past the State League Cup Final,” said the coach. “The atmosphere and the rivalry culminated into something special and to win such a tight contest showed great character from the team. All the players contributed that day and that’s what was required for a memorable day for all concerned at the club.”
Not all of Stirling’s season was rosy with Lincoln pointing out their elimination from the finals at the hands of Perth SC as 90 minutes he would much rather forget. “Without a doubt it was our finals campaign and in particular our loss to Perth SC in the Preliminary Final that was disappointing,” said Lincoln of the 4-1 loss. “That day we really didn’t get going and that may have come down to the week before having been involved in such a tough game, but it’s something we have to learn from.”
The emergence of talent from within Stirling’s youth system this season has Lincoln tipping more trophy successes for the club in coming years. “Clayton Arnez was impressive and came in not long after I arrived but injury and moving to the USA on a scholarship limited his game time,” said the coach. “James Turvill kept Kevin Miller out of goal and has gained some valuable experience. Ndumba Makeche continues to improve and I envisage he will have more game time next season, while David Sesay showed glimpses of his potential and will also improve.”
Lincoln admits sadness at the relegation of his former club, Swan, to Division One. “I spent nearly eight years with the club and have some great memories as a player and as a coach and met some really good people, so I was obviously disappointed when I heard Swan had been relegated,” Lincoln said. “It is a tough league and it is always difficult when clubs don’t have the resources and don’t want to strive to finish top of the ladder to attract the personnel that’s required to avoid this situation. They will find next season a real challenge as their good players will look to move on.”
Planning for next season has begun at Macedonia Park where Lincoln is considering options to replace imports of the calibre of Paul Dickson, Matthew Stares and Tom Ingram, amongst others. “The squad will see significant changes with some players returning home and some hoping to play at a higher level,” explained Lincoln. “(Assistant coach) Ian Cowan and I will be looking to build the squad up with the focus on quality local players … this year was a great challenge and a learning curve for all involved, and we’ll be looking to continue our improvement and hoping for more success next season.”
STATE AMATEURS TO TAKE ON MALAYSIA
The State Amateur squad is preparing to head overseas for the three-game tour of Malaysia. Coach Rob Pagnoni and his squad depart this Friday for a week-long trip in which they’ll play Kuala Lumpur, Royal Selangor and the Malaysian Police Academy in friendly competition. The 16-player squad representatives no fewer than eight Sunday League although, surprisingly, not a single member of league champions Shamrock Rovers will be making the trip.
Pagnoni expects the tour to be a great test for his side. “The whole team is really looking forward to the tour and we can’t wait to challenge ourselves against these Malaysian teams,” he said. “We are going there to represent Football West and Western Australia and I am expecting us to do very well based on our performances in the last four practice matches. Further down the track I’d like to see an interstate tour, where other State amateur teams come to WA or we go over there, I think that would be great.”
The State Amateur squad travelling to Malaysia is Matt Favazzo, Alen Karaselimovic, Glenn Sheldon (Fremantle United), Gary Andrews, Gavin Knight, Larry Miller (Joondalup United), Daniel Arias, Steven Cripps (North Lake), Aaron Lickiss, Felim Rugel (Olympic Kingsway), Johnny Ferreira, David Palin (Southern Spirit), Hussein Awada, Simon Madaschi (Stirling Panthers), Joe Stocker (Subiaco) and Francois Du Plessis (UWA-Nedlands). Team officials are Rob Pagnoni (coach), Mick Piaccia (assistant coach), Graeme Marinkovich (manager) and Nafyn Pattiaratchi (physiotherapist).
STOP BLAMING EVERYONE ELSE (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show)
One thing that holds back football in Western Australia is the quickness of everyone to point the finger and complain, rather than stopping and assessing why things happen and on some occasions looking at their own house before opening their mouths.
At the Football West Gold Medal Dinner, I was amazed as one of the MC’s to be accosted by several people on a number of issues. One club, that only avoided relegation in the final two weeks of the season, complained to me that none of their players were in the top ten.
Then another club complained that on the highlights packages there was no footage of their team. It transpired that Football West had actually offered for four of their home games to be filmed, but the club was not prepared to erect a camera position for the cameras.
Another player complained that he had in his opinion scored at least two goals better than any in the top ten. Sadly Football West does not have unlimited funds to film every single game, so the best they can do is feature those that are filmed, which those of us who have been around for a lot longer feel is a great advancement on ten years ago.
The great thing about football, unlike some other sports is it reflects life, sometimes things don’t go your way, sometimes they seem unfair, but then there are the times when you get the bounce of a ball, that split second of luck that tips things in your favour. The key thing is you have to put yourself in that position to benefit from the luck.
Football West like all sports administrators has its failings, but to blame them for issues such as these is totally unreasonable. Before season 2011, take a look at what you can do to put your club and your players in a better position to win next year, rather than blame other people.
WOZNY TO SCOUT FOR BURNLEY
English club Burnley will spread their wings into Asia following the appointment of Paul Wozny to the position of Head of Youth Australasia. Martin Dobson, Burnley's director of youth, is in absolutely doubt Wozny is the right man to be his clubs' eyes in Australia, Oceania and south-east Asia. "Paul is ideally suited for the role," said Dobson. "He knows the standard we are looking for and there is the possibility now of sending promising players, who have the right qualifications, over to us to see how they compare with their particular age group."
Wozny has established a number of local development programs and is looking forward to directing young players towards Turf Moor. "The football business is now truly global and Asia with its desire, large playing numbers and infrastructure is without doubt a 'sleeping giant," Wozny said. "This development will not only increase brand exposure for the club but will open up potential pathways for some exceptional talent. My role as Head of Youth Australasia is a very exciting prospect and I am looking forward to building a long lasting link throughout Asia on behalf of Burnley Football Club."
Wozny, 46, coached at youth level with English clubs Huddersfield Town and Bradford City in the mid-1990s before moving to Perth. A UEFA 'A' coaching licence holder, he has held posts as the head coach of the National Training Centre and most recently as High Performance Consultant for Football West. Over the past two years he has established several High Performance Centres throughout Western Australia, and centres planned for Malaysia and Singapore are due to open early in 2011.
GLORY ASSISTANT-LESS AS LOWE QUITS
The coaching drama at Perth Glory continues with assistant Kenny Lowe handing in his resignation, effective immediately. Lowe's departure leaves Glory without an assistant coach just days after Ian Ferguson took over as head coach from David Mitchell, who has been slotted into the role of football director. A key figure on the training ground for the past three seasons, Lowe enjoyed a close relationship with many of the Glory players. It is understood Lowe, who is also head coach of Football West's National Training Centre, resigned to pursue other interests.
Goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski said Lowe's decision to quit was sad news for Glory. "Kenny's been one of the greats of the team," Vrteski said. "He's always offering help to the younger players, he's got that link about him. He looks after the young boys and he offers a lot of assistance to the older players and his knowledge of the game is second to none. So it's obviously a sad day to lose him but he's obviously got other interests in life and we all move on."
BIRIGHITTI 'DEVASTATED' BY HOWLER
Young Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Birighitti has spoken of his utter devastation after gifting Korea DPR the AFC Under-19 Championship with a last-gasp howler at the weekend. With the score deadlocked at 2-2 and the game seemingly destined for extra-time, Birighitti spilled a regulation cross to present Jong Il Gwan with the winning goal. "I wanted to find the nearest hole and bury myself," Birighitti told theworldgame.sbs.com.au. "After the game I was devastated and I did not want to speak to anyone."
Birighitti accepted full responsibility for his error. "The goal was my fault and I should have done better. I made the mistake of thinking before catching the ball what I was going to do next. I came out and just fumbled it and the guy managed to put it away," he explained. "It was a highly shattering moment not only for me but for the whole team. After doing so well in the whole tournament and going out like that ... was devastating. It put a stab in the hearts of all the boys in the squad. All of them came up to me afterwards, put an arm around me and said 'don't worry about it, you got us to the final and you should keep your head high'."
Birighitti, who played juniors for Perth SC prior to joining Adelaide United in mid-2008, is determined to learn from the experience. "Look, these things happen to the best goalkeepers in the world," he said. "I was watching the Manchester United game against West Bromwich and Edwin van der Sar also made a bad and costly mistake. It made me realise that I'm not the only one making silly mistakes. But now I know that if a similar situation arises I have to make sure the focus is on the job at hand and not on what I'm going to do next. I'm sure this whole thing will make me stronger in the future."
SHEEHAN TOPS CANNING POLL
Winning Canning City’s top award is the icing on the cake of a superb season for Irish import Mark Sheehan. The hard-working defender’s popularity at Canning saw him go home with the Players Player of the Year trophy from their annual presentation ceremony. Billy Rickman picked up the Club Player of the Year, the the Supporters Award went to goalkeeper Stewart Dalgarno and the Presidents Trophy to youngster Dane Navarro.
The rising star award, the Mitchell Allomes Memorial Trophy, was presented to Stephen Murgia. Long-time Canning player Shane Laing was voted the Reserve teams’ Players Player of the Year with Mark Trevisiol picking up the Club Player of the Year. Joseph Crook made a clean sweep of the Youth trophies by going home with the Players Player of the Year and Club Player of the Year.
MILLARD WINS WEST HAM TRIAL
Playing football professionally is a step closer for Ross Millard after the teenager was invited to trial at English club West Ham United. Millard, 14, won an all expenses paid trip to London next March to attend trials with the London club after capturing the attention of Mike Leigh and his coaching team during the recent West Ham United Academy experience at Macedonia Park. Over 140 talented youngsters attended the four-day sessions run by Leigh, West Ham Academy scout for Asia.
Stirling president Don Evans was very pleased with the turnout for trials. “We were more than happy with the numbers that attended and Leigh was very happy with the kids skills levels, hunger and commitment,” Evans commented. “Our club is focused on delivering quality football learning programs with real bridge linkages to partner clubs around the world. West Ham has a great reputation and the parents and youngsters I spoke to were full of praise for the clinic and the one-on-one skills sessions held at our complex.”
ROBINSON THE FANS FAVOURITE
Irish midfielder Shane Robinson is he recipient of the inaugural PerthNow Player of the Year. Robinson, Stirling Lions’ captain, was delighted to pick up the trophy which was voted for by the football community. “It’s nice to get an award and it was voted on by the supporters which was nice,” said Robinson, who was ineligible for the Gold Medal. “I don’t know if I was in the running for the Gold medal as I was sent off against Western Knights, but to win this was pleasing. I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me, and I suppose a couple of votes from back home in Ireland helped as well.”
Robinson enjoyed his first season at Macedonia Park but admits he was disappointed by Stirling’s late season fade-out which robbed them of a shot at the State Championship. “We probably peaked a bit too early, I’d say Linc’s (coach Paul Lincoln) would say something similar,” Robinson commented. “Midway through the season I thought we were the best side in the league. But Perth SC came strong towards the end of the season and I had a feeling when they beat us in the Preliminary Final that they were the best side we had faced and they were deserved winners in the end.”
LEAVING VILLA WOULD SUIT LOWRY
Defender Shane Lowry knows his chances of playing in next year’s Asian Cup hinge on being loaned out by Aston Villa. Lowry, 21, sits behind an experienced group of defenders at Villa and feels a loan move similar to those of last season with Plymouth Argyle and Leeds United would be his best chance of impressing coach Holger Osieck. “A loan move would probably be a better option for me at the moment because I need to be playing and that is my main priority,’’ said Lowry. “There is a bit of interest and hopefully something can be sorted out in the next few weeks. It’s just a case of seeing what clubs need so I’ll just have to wait and see.’’
Lowry admits he is unsure where he figures in the plans of new manager Gerard Houllier, who stepped into the breech following Martin O’Neill’s resignation on the eve of the season. “I was involved in Vienna under (caretaker manager Kevin) MacDonald and he included me in a few squads although I didn’t make the team sheet,” said Lowry of the pre-season Europa League qualifier against Rapid Vienna. “It’s hard to say where I figure at the moment. I’ve had a bit of a chat with Gerard about Australia and stuff like that but nothing more.”
AUSTRALIA HONOURS FOR MAKAROUNAS AND WOODCOCK
Local products Jesse Makarounas and Riley Woodcock have gained selection in Australia's squad for this months' AFC Under-16 Championship. Coach Jan Versleijen named an Australia-based 23-player squad for the tournament being held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, from 24 October. "With the majority of the players coming from the AIS, I am very confident that we have the right group of players to achieve our goals at the AFC Under-16 Championship," said Versleijen. Australia play Timor Leste, Vietnam and Japan in the group stage with the top two sides progressing to the knock-out phase. The four semi-finalists qualify for the 2011 Under-17 World Cup in Mexico.
The Australia squad for the AFC Under-16 Championship is Jakob Williams (Australian Capital Territory Academy of Sport), Nicholas Ansell (Melbourne Victory), Samuel Chapple, Hayden Morton (New South Wales Institute of Sport), Luke Remington, Abe Wheelhouse (Northern New South Wales Institute of Sport), Kwame Yeboah (Queensland Academy of Sport), Benjamin Garuccio, Jacob Melling (South Australian Institute of Sport), Daniel Sadaka (Sutherland Sharks), Riley Woodcock (West Australian Institute of Sport), Kwabena Boahene, Corey Brown, Connor Chapman, Milos Degenek, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Paul Izzo, Jesse Makarounas, Jake Monaco, Brodie Paterson, Yianni Perkatis, Anthony Proia and Lachlan Tibbles (Australian Institute of Sport).
ANTHONY STUNNED BY GOLD MEDAL WIN
Cockburn City’s Marc Anthony is still coming to terms with his remarkable Gold Medal win. An amazing finish to the count saw Anthony, 32, pick up the richest prize in WA football with a final round best on ground performance against Mandurah City which took him one vote clear of Floreat Athena’s Branimir Mikulic and Sorrento import Adam Hayton.
Anthony was stunned when his name was read from the podium as winner of the 2010 Gold Medal. “It feels absolutely unbelievable, I’m still in shock,” the Scotland-born midfielder said. “I’ve always wanted to win this award and I thought maybe three, maybe four years ago I had my best chances to do so, but I never expected it would come this season - especially after the disappointing season we’ve had.
Whether winning the Gold Medal re-opens the door on a national league career for Anthony waits to be seen. “You’d have to ask (new Perth Glory coach) Ian Ferguson that, but I hope this does,” he said. “I honestly believe that the State League is as good as the A-League and that showed when WA took on Perth Glory earlier in the year. I’d just like to thank my teammates at Cockburn City, it’s a great club and I’ve enjoyed being part of such a close-knit team.”
HEARTBREAK FOR YOUNG SOCCEROOS
The Young Socceroos have suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to DPR Korea in the final of the AFC Under-19 Championship at the Zibo Sports Center Stadium in Zibo, China. With the teams braced for extra-time, Perth-born goalkeeper Mark Birighitti spilled a harmless cross to allow Jong Il Gwan to score the deciding goal just two minutes from full-time. Flying the West Australian flag in China were Birighitti, Eli Babalj, Ryan Edwards and Alex Pearson.
Coach Jan Versleijen felt his players were unlucky to lose the final. "We tried to play good football tonight and throughout the tournament," he said. "We were a little sloppy to concede the first two goals (against Korea) and there was an element of luck in the third goal that we let in. I was very happy with the way that we came back from a goal down and took the lead. But this is a good learning experience for the players as we now look towards our next challenge at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup next year."
Australia recovered from conceding early to defeat Yemen 4-1 in the opening game. Ahmed Al Baidhani punished a defensive error after just 2 minutes, but Kofi Danning soon restored parity. Goals in the space of minutes from Kerem Bulut and Dylan McGowan had the Young Socceroos in control before half-time. Matthew Fletcher netted Australia's fourth close to full-time. Birighitti played a full game as Babalj, Edwards and Pearson watched from the bench.
A quarter-final appearance was secured with a 3-0 win over Iran. Mustafa Amini opened the scoring just before half-time, Bulut added a second on the hour with Terry Antonis netting not long before the end of regulation time. Australia finished the game with only ten men following Marc Warren's stoppage time dismissal. Birighitti played a full game, while Babalj, Edwards and Pearson were unused substitutes.
The Young Socceroos topped Group D after playing out a scoreless draw with DPR Korea. With coach Jan Versleijen making seven changes to his first eleven, it wasn’t surprising that Korea controlled the pace and created the better scoring opportunities, Birighitti making several important saves. Birighitti played a full game, Babalj came on after 52 minutes with Edwards and Pearson unused substitutes.
Australia secured qualification for the Under-20 World Cup by defeating the United Arab Emirates 4-2 in a thrilling quarter-final. Bulut opened the scoring early only for Ahmed Khalil to equalise before half-time. Amini restored the Young Socceroos lead and again Khalil brought the teams level. Close-range finishes by Mathew Leckie and Fletcher in extra-time sealed an Australia victory. Birighitti played a full game with Babalj, Edwards and Pearson unused substitutes.
A couple of second half goals from Bulut helped the Young Socceroos defeat Saudi Arabia 2-0 in the semi-finals. Bulut broke a deadlock in the 70th minute by gathering a Tommy Oar cross before neatly slotting in. The game was made safe dive minutes when a foul on substitute Fletcher resulted in a penalty which Bulut duly converted. Birighitti played a full game, while Babalj, Edwards and Pearson were unused substitutes.
Bulut scored twice but it wasn't enough as Australia bowed to DPR Korea 3-2 in the tournament finale. The opening goal of an action packed game came via Jong Il Gwan after 11 minutes. Bulut turned the game in Australia's favour by scoring twice in five minutes, but the teams entered the break level via a deflected Il Gwan shot. Extra-time was looming when Il Gwan pounced to lob into the net after Birighitti failed to hold a deep cross. Birighitti played a full game with Babalj, Edwards and Pearson unused substitutes.
GLORY GO DOWN TO CLINICAL AIS
The Australian Institute of Sport has ended Perth Glory Youth's unbeaten run by claiming a 3-0 win this afternoon in Canberra. Playing with the aid of a strong breeze, Glory dominated the first half with Andrija Jukic twice going close to scoring in the first twenty minutes. It was therefore against the run of play that the AIS took the lead after 26 minutes when Jesse Markarounas squared to present Jake Barker-Daish the easiest of tap-ins from close-range. Despite the setback, the visitors continued to monopolise possession but Sahr Musa shot straight at Izzo and Dean Evans headed wide from a Cameron Edwards corner.
Melvin Becket had Timothy Doyle at full stretch three minutes as the AIS came out firing. Milos Degenek swung the resultant corner to the near post where Herman Espindola ghosted in to volley into the net. Any hopes Glory held of fighting their way back into the game were extinguished in the 63rd minute when defender Josh Mitchell was red carded for a late challenge on substitute Anthony Proia. The AIS made the most of their numerical advantage and in the final minute Proia took advantage of a defensive lapse to drive a low shot beyond Doyle and into the far corner to secure the points on a bitterly cold afternoon.
ANTHONY SNEAKS IN TO WIN GOLD MEDAL
Edinburgh-born Marc Anthony wrote himself into West Australian football history last night by taking out the 2010 Gold Medal. Anthony's consistency in the middle of the park for Cockburn City earned him the prestigious award as the Premier League's best and fairest player. In the closest finish in years, Anthony edged out Branimir Mikulic (Floreat Athena) and Adam Hayton (Sorrento) by just a single vote to become Cockburn's sixth Gold Medal winner.
There was a full house at Grand Ballroom of the Burswood International Resort Casino to celebrate the achievements of the recent State League season. The Gold Medal leader board was congested at the seasons' mid-point when Perth SC striker Andreas Oliveira led the way with 13 votes, one more than Mikulic and two clear of David Tarka (Cockburn). Hayton's 10 votes had just out in front of Anthony, Hayden Doyle (Perth SC) and Western Knights pair David Micevski and Simon Versaico.
By the completion of Round 20 Armadale striker James Robinson had surged to the front with 19 votes. Mikulic and Hayton were locked together on 18 votes, followed closely by Anthony and Micevski with 17 votes. Best of ground displays by Mikulic and Hayton on the second last day of the winter jumped them into joint leadership. However, Anthony picked up two points that afternoon at Inglewood United before a earning another three at Mandurah City to win the 2010 Gold Medal.
At the end of counting Anthony had tallied up 22 votes to be one clear of joint runners-up Mikulic and Hayton. A final round best on ground at Stirling Lions took Micevski into third spot with 20 votes, which was one more than Robinson. Perth team mates Doyle and Oliveira finished with 17 and 16 votes respectively. Young stars Ludovic Boi (Stirling) and James Sammut (Swan United) each accumulated 15 votes, two more than Versaico and Adam Tong (Balcatta). View all the 2010 Gold Medal votes (pdf, 56b).
Earlier in the evening Phil Straker collected his third Goalkeeper of the Year award in four years. James Robinson was rewarded with the Golden Boot for his 21-goal regular season. Guiding Stirling Lions to the Premier League runners-up spot and victory on Cup Final day earned Paul Lincoln the Premier League Coach of the Year. The Premier Division Under-18s Best and Fairest was presented to Jarrod Belford (Inglewood United), with the competitions' Golden Boot going to Rory Lowe (Perth).
The Administrator of the Year (David Schrandt Memorial Award) went home with Sorrento secretary Kerry Slater, whose association with the northern suburbs club stretches back to 1981. Very few people were surprised when Cup Final and Grand Final referee Mat Cheeseman was announced as recipient of the Golden Whistle Award. The Assistant Referee of the Year was shared by Cheeseman and Ross Sardi.
Bunbury Forum Force attacker David Rodgers collected successive Division One Fairest and Best trophies, and his fourth in seven years. Rodgers' 24-goal season saw him share the Golden Boot with Bayswater City marksman Kailo Karpeh. Mauro Marchione was named Division One Coach of the Year for navigating Bayswater City through the 22-game home and away season and into next seasons' top flight. Joshua Harvey (Bunbury) scooped the Division One Under-18 awards with win in the Best and Fairest as well as Golden Boot categories.
GLORY'S LOSING STREAK CONTINUES
Perth Glory lost their fifth straight game by going down 2-1 to North Queensland Fury in torrential rain last night at Dairy Farmers Stadium. A woeful crowd of 4011 endured dreadful conditions but were rewarded with David Williams and Chris Payne scoring two top-shelf goals to topple Glory in Ian Ferguson's first game as coach. "I was pleased for the first 30 minutes, I thought we were in control of the game and played very well ... then we got the sucker punch," Ferguson said. "We threw everything at them in the second half in the last 15, 20 minutes ... we could have maybe netted something but we didn't."
The early signs were encouraging for Glory with Steven McGarry's curling shot pushed away from the net by goalkeeper Justin Pasfield. However, Glory were caught out in the 16th minute when Williams laid the ball off for Payne whose superbly angled drive from 15-metres gave 'keeper Aleks Vrteski no chance. Glory levelled five minutes later with an unmarked Michael Baird tapping in at close-range after Anthony Skorich showed good composure in centring when under pressure. The home side could have taken a lead into the break but Brad McDonald's fierce effort was touched onto the crossbar by Vrteski.
Skorich should have given Glory the lead five minutes after the restart but fired wide in a penalty area scramble after losing his footing. North Queensland Fury went close soon after when Gareth Edds' free-kick from just outside the area drifted slightly wide. The game was blown wide open in the 72nd minute when Payne turned provider, splitting the Glory defence with a intricately placed through ball which allowed Williams to coolly beat Vrteski in a one-on-one. Glory came close to snatching a late point with substitute Jamie Harnwell heading narrowly wide, while in stoppage time Branko Jelic was unable to put away a brilliant McGarry cross.
FERGUSON SEES HOPE
Ian Ferguson saw enough in Perth Glory's loss at North Queensland Fury to give him hope for the remainder of the season. Glory's fifth loss in a row may have them languishing towards the foot of the A-League table but Ferguson, who replaced David Mitchell as coach in midweek, took some positives from the game. "I know the result is not a great result but I'm pretty pleased with the performance in patches of the game, but we've got to be a bit more consistent," Ferguson said.
Its back to the drawing board for Ferguson and his players as they prepare for next weekend's home game with Sydney FC. "Obviously that's five in a row now and as I said to the boys, there's no magic formula. We've got to work even harder now and try and get out of this rut were in," added Ferguson. "There are a few things obviously, defending is one of them. As we have seen we probably could have put a bit more pressure on them. Also the midfield closing and maybe strikers holding up the ball a bit so there's quite a bit to work on."
YEARS' BEST HONOURED ON FOOTBALLS NIGHT OF NIGHTS
The 2010 State League season officially comes to a close this evening with the 49th annual Gold Medal Awards ceremony. Early indications are there’ll be a bumper turnout for the gala event in the Grand Ballroom of the Burswood International Resort Casino. The evenings’ centrepiece will be the awarding of the 2010 Gold Medal, Western Australia’s highest individual honour, to the State League’s best and fairest player.
There’s a very good chance Western Knights playmaker David Micevski will become the first player in over a decade to win back-to-back Gold Medals. However, to achieve that he’ll have to fend off the likes of James Robinson (Armadale), Branimir Mikulic (Floreat Athena) and Stirling Lions captain Shane Robinson. Another Stirling player, Bobby Wilson, should also poll strongly along with Hayden Doyle (Perth SC), Adrian Webster and Marc Anthony (Cockburn City).
Retiring Perth boss Graham Normanton has his nose in front for the Premier League Coach of the Year but hot on his heels are Paul Lincoln, who led Stirling to Cup Final glory, and Salv Todaro (Balcatta). Frazer Siddall (Knights) and Cyril Sharrock (Armadale) are tipped to battle it out for Goalkeeper of the Year honours with Mandurah City’s Phil Straker the field’s dark horse.
There’ll be little separating the leaders when the final rounds of votes are counted in the First Division Best and Fairest. Bunbury Forum Force pair Patrick Quinn and David Rodgers are sure to finish high on the tally board along with Gustavo Marulanda (Bayswater City), Andy Pomfret (Gosnells City) and Dale Wingell (Dianella White Eagles) and Jamie Burns (Forrestfield United).
After guiding Bayswater to the First Division championship, Mauro Marchione has been installed as the red-hot favourite to land the Coach of the Year where Gerry McEwan (Wanneroo City) and John Hunter (Forrestfield) are his main rivals. Mathew Cheeseman, Steve Gregory and Paul Anderson are in the running for the top referee prize, the Golden Whistle.
SHAMROCK TAKE PROMOTION
Sunday League champions Shamrock Rovers have opened a new chapter in club history by accepting promotion to the State League. Based in East Victoria Park, Shamrock have over the years won everything amateur football has to offer and are excited by the challenge that now awaits according to club secretary Wayne Brooks. “We’ve been a very successful club, winning five amateur leagues in the last fifteen years and the only Premier League club to win the double,” Brooks said. “We are obviously very proud of this but there is not much more we can achieve and decided to compete in the State League.”
Brooks is confident much of Shamrock’s 2010 Sunday League championship winning squad will stay remain with the club despite game days changing to Saturday. “The majority of our players will stay with us, and because of our Irish background we know we will attract others that have not donned the hoops due to their wish to play Saturday football. Obviously we will lose some who have work commitments and as always we will lose players who return to Ireland. What ever happens we are confident we will be very competitive in 2011.
The next few months promise to be an extremely busy time at Shamrock as they prepare for life in the State League. “There are some major areas that we’ll be focusing on, first and foremost is the establishment of an under-18 side as we have not had one since the mid-90’s,” explained Brooks. “We’re also looking at attracting more sponsors - but then which clubs aren’t? - and we’d like to attract more non-playing members to the club such as those who were involved with Shamrock in the past but have drifted away from the club of late.”
Shamrock have no absolutely intension of joining the State League just to make up the numbers and intend to in their inaugural season to be challenging for Division One’s top prize. “The smart thing would be to say our goal in 2011 will be State League survival and ensure we are competitive week in week out,” said Brooks, who as a player collected four Premier League winners medals with Shamrock. “However, that’s not something the club will settle for - we always enter competitions to win them. We have always had a winning mentality and I don’t see why that should change.”
Brooks extended an open invitation to anyone interested in helping Shamrock achieve what they have set out to achieve in 2011. “We are excited (and nervous) about the unchartered territory that lies ahead,” Brooks commented. “We know that we have a big challenge ahead and that to conquer it will require a lot of work. Anyone in the WA football family in invited to contact me, Wayne Brooks (0421 347 571), should they feel they can contribute to the clubs first year in the State League, particularly in regards to our under-18 team.”
PERTH FOR THE AUSTRALIA CUP?
Grand Final winners Perth SC may find themselves up against A-League opposition as Football Federation Australia investigate staging a mid-week Cup next year as part of an extended 2011/12 A-League season. While details are still being worked out, it is understood FFA are working towards a knock-out Cup competition that would involve both national league and State League clubs, who would qualify for the Cup proper via a play-off series. The Cup has been pencilled in to start in the second half of 2011 with the final being played midway through the A-League season. FFA is believed to be seeking a sponsor for the competition.
MICEVSKI TIPPED FOR GOLD MEDAL GLORY
The State League coaches have been almost unanimous in nominating Western Knights midfielder David Micevski to walk away with the top prize from tomorrow nights Gold Medal Awards ceremony. Micevski’s name came up time and time again along with Golden Boot winner James Robinson of Armadale, Stirling Lions captain Shane Robinson and Floreat Athena attacker Branimir Mikulic when asked who will take home the 2010 Gold Medal…
Coaching legend Graham Normanton expects very little to separate the leaders. “Voting, like the league, will be very close. It could be won by as little as one vote, or may even end in a tie - how do you split a car in half?” queried the retiring boss of Perth. “David Micevski could go back-to-back, but if he does he won’t be a runaway winner. Jason Gavin as is class defender and will poll very well as will James Robinson as he catches the eye and scores goals regularly.”
Western Knights boss Carl Medica is tipping the Gold Medal to be a two horse race between David Micevski and Branimir Mikulic. “David’s an influential player who is strong on the ball, quick, creates opportunities and scores goals. Branimir’s another clever player who creates and scores goals from a wide position,” commented Medica. “Others that could figure are Antonio Naglieri, Shane Robinson and Adam Tong.”
Jamie Goodman was another to tip a second successive Gold Medal for Micevski. “My money will be on David Micevski, he’s a proven vote getter and has had another great season in a Knights team that finished on the top of the league,” said Goodman, who recently declined an opportunity to coach at Swan next season. “Branimir Mikulic, James Robinson and Shane Robinson will be his main threats. As for Swan, Corey Hugo, James Sammut and Dave McNally should poll strongly.”
Brad Hassell, fresh from guiding Armadale to their best ever league placing, found it difficult to select a Gold Medal winner from his shortlist of four players. “From what I’ve seen I think the winner will come from David Micevski, Bobby Wilson, Shane Robinson and James Robinson,” said the former national league player, before cheekily adding “as to who’ll take it home - well that depends on who was the nicest to the referee throughout the season.”
Singling one player out was also difficult for ECU Joondalup’s Syd Amphlett. “Based on the games against us, the Gold Medal will go to one of five players - Shane Robinson, Jason Gavin, James Robinson, David Micevski or Branimir Mikulic,” commented Amphlett, who expects three of his team to finish high on the leader board. “Charlie Comyn-Platt was outstanding for us while Jamie Watt and Phil O’Callaghan should both feature in top ten.”
Stirling Lions’ Paul Lincoln, winner of the 1997 Gold Medal, is tipping either Branimir Mikulic or James Robinson. “Both have had outstanding seasons,” Lincoln said. “Bran scored 19 goals and for someone that does not play as an out and out striker that reflects what sort of season he has had. Robinson was the Golden Boot with 21 goals so he would have caught the referee’s eye. David Micevski has had another good season so he may be there or thereabouts also.”
Salv Todaro had David Micevski and James Robinson at the top of his list. “David is a very hard player to combat and is hugely influential for the Knights. James is all class, he ghosts past players and is one of the best finishes I have seen in WA, his all round ability is exceptional,” said the Balcatta coach. “I’m also an admirer of Shane Robinson and Bobby Wilson, Branimir Mikulic had an exceptional season and Adrian Webster might cause a bit of a surprise.”
GLORY YOUTH SET SIGHTS ON THREE MORE POINTS
Perth Glory Youth will be out to extend their unbeaten run when they face the Australian Institute of Sport on Saturday in Canberra. Refreshed by a week break, Glory Youth sit atop the National Youth League table and journey east full of confidence to take on players from Australia’s elite football program. Glory Youth has a perfect win record against the AIS and last season showed no sign of travel sickness by dominating the two games played in Canberra.
Team captain Dean Evans is pleased with how the new season squad is developing under the watchful eye of coach Gareth Naven. “I think from the start of the season Navsie gave us a specific method of the way he wants us to play and our roles within the squad,” he said. “We’re all mixing quite well together, we understand each other and we’re clicking really well at the moment. There’s a good mix of old boys and young boys and so far so good.”
Ryan Pearson’s call-up to the senior squad for their game at North Queensland Fury leaves a big hole to fill in Glory’s backline. “This is great for Ryan. He deserves to get his chance with the senior team and we wish him all the best,” said Evans, who is confident his team have the depth to cover for Pearson;s absence. “It’s a big loss but I definitely think we have enough depth in the squad to cover his position.”
Despite winning all three games to date against the AIS, Evans says his team are keen on this weekend’s challenge. “Training has been intense this week, probably even more so than usual because we had a bye last week,” Evans commented. “We always look forward to playing the AIS over there. They’re young, but they’re a good footballing side and we have a lot of respect for them as we do all our opponents. I think we’re a talented group and we’re confident and we’ll get the result when we play them on Saturday.”
MORGAN IS SORRENTO’S BEST
Long-time Sorrento midfielder James Morgan joined an elite group of players when he collected the Best Player trophy at last weekend’s club awards night. “It’s an honour to have won - the last trophy I won was under-13’s,” said Morgan, who edged out State defender Danny Cain for the Gulls top award. “There have been some very good players over the last five or so years to win the Best Player … and now I’m one of them!”
A Sorrento player since his was a junior, Morgan rates 2010 as his most consistent season to date. “I played with a lot more self-belief and there was more consistency to my game,” commented the hard-working midfielder. “I’ve been playing with the same core group of players for quite a while now so they get to know how I play. I just try to give 100% every time I play, win my tackles and give the ball to the players who can play!”
Morgan says missing out on this year’s finals was a bitter pill to swallow. “It hurt not finishing in the top five, we were in it from Round Two but dropped out the last day of the season,” Morgan reflected. “We performed well against the top teams but had a few bad results against teams that were below us. At the end of the day we didn’t deserve to be in the finals … but there’s always next year.”
Billy Quinncroft, who’ll spend the summer honing his goal scoring talents with Perth Glory Youth, picked up the Most Improved Young Player award. The Best Goal of the Season trophy was presented to Adam Hayton for his 8th minute strike in the 2-1 Round 14 win at Perth SC. Dejan Gurovski was the Reserve team Best Player with Wesley Padley runner-up. The Youth team Best Player went to Jackson Dongray ahead of Ashley Desveaux.
GLORY GIRLS MAKE MATILDAS SQUAD
Tom Sermanni has selected three Perth Glory players in the Matilda's squad for this months Peace Queen Cup in the Korea Republic. Collette McCallum, who has been named Australia vice-captain the trip, Katie Gill and Sam Kerr will take part in the six-nation tournament along with Katanning-born goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who plays for Canberra United.
The Peace Queen Cup, and a post-tournament friendly with Germany, will serve as preparation for Australia's participation in next year's Women's World Cup. "This should be a good test for us as Mexico are in final preparations for their World Cup qualifiers," said Sermanni. "Germany will be our biggest test since the Asian Cup and will give me a good understanding of where we stand and what we need to focus on before June 2011."
There are some notable absences from the squad with Lisa de Vanna, Heather Garriock and Sarah Walsh available through injury. Australia faces Mexico and Taiwan in Group B with the winner advancing to the final where they'll meet Group A's best team, Korea Republic, England or New Zealand. The Matilda's come up against reigning Women's World Cup champions Germany on 8 October in Wolfsburg.
The Australia squad for 2010 Peace Queen Cup is Tameka Butt, Kim Carroll, Lauren Colthorpe,Elise Kellond-Knight, Aivi Luik, Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane Roar), Caitlin Munoz, Sally Shipard, Lydia Williams (Canberra United), Melissa Barbieri (Melbourne Victory), Thea Slatyer (Newcastle Jets), Kathryn Gill, Samantha Kerr, Collette McCallum (Perth Glory), Teigen Allen, Leena Khamis, Kyah Simon and Servet Uzunlar (Sydney FC).
THE BUCK STOPS WITH ME: FERGUSON
Ian Ferguson is relishing the chance to lead Perth Glory into battle with his former club North Queensland Fury, although the newly appointed coach says it won't be without a tinge of sadness. Ferguson yesterday took over the reins from David Mitchell, who moved into the director of football position after being sacked by owner Tony Sage. His only previous coaching spell came to an abrupt end last April when North Queensland was put into financial administration.
Ferguson now gets another chance as Glory look to arrest an alarming slide that's seen them lose four consecutive games. "I'm obviously delighted to have it, but there's a touch of sadness there getting a job this way," said Ferguson, who replaced David Mitchell. "I would have liked to have worked a bit longer with him (Mitchell) as an assistant coach. But I've got the opportunity now, the buck stops with me, I'm the head coach and looking forward and relishing the challenge."
The new Glory coach is confident his team can come home from Friday night's clash in North Queensland Fury with all three points. "I don't think it will be too hard," Ferguson said of getting his players focus back on on-field matters. "I believe the squad that we've got can go up there and get three points and that's the belief that I've got. Let's hope the players have got that belief as well that we can go up there, get the three points and get us back in winning ways."
MCDONALD VOTED THE REDS BEST
A summer move to Armadale has paid some handsome rewards for Steve McDonald in the form of the Reds two top trophies. McDonald was presented with the Fairest and Best trophy along with that for the Players Player of the Year at his clubs annual presentation ceremony on the weekend. Goalkeeper Alex Preece picked up the Coaches Award for the Reserves, where Ale Parades was voted Players Player of the Year. Nathan Costello finished top of counting in both Youth team categories, Fairest and Best and Players Player of the Year.
RUKAVYTSYA ENJOYING GERMANY
Australian international Nikita Rukavytsya admits life is good in Germany. The 23-year old attacker has made a seemless transition to playing with Hertha Berlin after moving across during the off-season from Dutch club FC Twente. "The place is great, Berlin's a massive city and there's a lot to do. I'm really loving it," Rukavytsya said. "I've enjoyed it since the first day I came in and I've been welcomed by everybody. The club is great, the people are great, the coaching staff, players, everybody involved in the club is really professional."
Rukavytsya says he is planning to remain in Europe for as long as he can and hopes to build on the game time he received at the World Cup earlier this year. "I just have to concentrate on the club first, and if you're playing regularly for your club and doing well then I think you'll get your chances with the national team," added Rukavytsya, who turned out in South Africa against Germany and Ghana. "Obviously I want t stay in Europe for as long as possible and just see how far I can go. I guess we'll see what happens in the future."
COCKBURN REWARD WEBSTER’S ENDEAVOURS
Adrian Webster has capped a superb debut season with Cockburn City by winning his clubs Fairest and Best trophy. So great was Webster's midfield influence that he finished top of counting despite playing only fourteen of Cockburn's twenty-two league games. Exciting young striker Rory Feely collected the Fairest and Best runner-up and Golden Boot trophies, while the Players Player of the Year went home with defender Shane Nunes.
Matt MacDonald dominated the Reserve team awards with wins in the Fairest and Best as well as Players Player of the Year categories. Andrew Ambrogio was Fairest and Best runner-up with Joseph Brunetto recipient of the Golden Boot. The Youth team Fairest and Best was taken out by Oscar Thompson ahead of Marc Zagami, Shazalee Abdollah picked up the Players Player of the Year with the Golden Boot going to Kristian Toy.
FERGUSON IN AS GLORY AXE MITCHELL
Scottish international defender Ian Ferguson has become Perth Glory's fifth head coach in six seasons of A-League football. Ferguson's appointment comes as David Mitchell moves into a director of football role after he initiated discussions with chairman Tony Sage about his future in the head coaching position. Ferguson, 43, takes charge for the first time when Glory heads east to play his former club, North Queensland Fury, on Friday.
Sage didn't mince his words when discussing the coaching change. "The players have got to take a lot of responsibility for this. We're losing a good coach in this process," Sage said. "If professional players need the motivation of the sacking of the coach to play, it's not good enough. But we've got to move forward and Ian Ferguson's put his hand up. Fergie thinks he can get a lot out of the players and I believe that he can."
Glory's excellent start to 2010/11 stuttered to a halt with four straight losses, leading Mitchell to re-consider his future. "I have been contemplating this move for some time with chairman Tony Sage, and am proud where the club is today, compared to when I first came to Perth Glory," Mitchell said. "The fans have been great and have come back in their droves. We have built a squad which can now compete and play attractive football with the infrastructure in place to challenge for a title. I have a deep passion for recruiting and utilising my global networks to bring success to Perth Glory."
WILLIAMS BACK AT MIDDLESBROUGH
Injured Socceroo Rhys Williams is determined to turn the pain of missing selection for the 2010 World Cup into a positive. The 22-year old utility returned to English club Middlesbrough this week insisting the experience in South Africa will make him a better player in the long run. “To miss out on what is the biggest tournament in anyone’s life was really hard to take at first,” Williams told mfc.co.uk. “Saying that, if I did go with my health and fitness not at 100% I really feel I couldn’t perform to my maximum and really didn’t want to let myself and both the managers down. In the long run I think it may have been a blessing in that I’m even hungrier and more driven to help my country get to the next one and hopefully have a more influential role.”
Williams has made some big strides towards overcoming his pelvic injury during his three-months with Adelaide-based physiotherapist Anthony Hogan. “My groin and pelvis are getting a lot better but we are not quite into running or ball work yet. The time I’ve had here has also made me concentrate on strengthening my lower and upper body, which I feel a lot stronger and better for, as my thin frame may be to blame for this injury,” he explained. “Our main aim is to strengthen my mid-section and make it strong enough to see off any more problems with my groin.”
Considering the ups and downs he has been though, it’s not at all surprising Williams is reluctant to say when he’ll return to the park. “It’s tough to put a timeline on things because this injury has a mind of its own. One morning I could wake up and everything could be fine and yet again it might not want to settle for a while,” he said. “I don’t really want to set a timeline and let people down if I’m not ready by then, but also I could be ready soon. It’s really hard to say right now and I just concentrate on recovering and get stronger so I can come back and be a better player all round.”
INGLEWOOD SALUTE CLARKE
Ryan Clarke scooped the pool at Inglewood United's annual award night. Signed last summer from Marconi Stallions, Clarke walked away from his first State League campaign with the Fairest and Best as well as Golden Boot trophies. Daniel Stoitis' mid-season decision to move across from Stirling Lions was rewarded with the Runner-up Fairest and Best award.
The Reserves Fairest and Best was presented to Lee Carr, who also picked up Inglewood's Rising Star award. Luke Colli was Runner-up Fairest and Best, while a dozen goals was enough to secure Jake Geddes the Golden Boot. Victor Antanovski took out the Fairest and Best at Youth team level ahead of attacker Anthony Pappalia.
FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR AWARD AN HONOUR FOR KERR
Perth Glory Women starlet is still coming to terms with being named Australia’s Under-20 Footballer of the Year. It was a just reward for a strong twelve-months for club and country by Kerr, the highlight of which was her opening goal in the 2010 Women’s Asian Cup Final which Australia won by defeating Korea DPR on penalties. “I was shocked really, I didn’t expect it at all,” 17-year old Kerr said of the moment her name was read from the podium at last week’s Australian Football Awards ceremony at Sydney.
Kerr is honoured to be named the nations’ best young player but won’t allow that to distract her from the task at her with Australia and Glory. “It’s a great honour for me but my focus is now on the Peace Cup with the Westfield Matildas and then our Perth Glory Women season kicks off right after,” she said. “I really can’t wait for the season to start and I think we are a great chance to make the finals which would be great for all the girls.” Perth Glory Women open the new season with a home meeting against Canberra United on 7 November.
GARCIA’S HAND IS UP FOR ASIAN CUP
January’s Asian Cup is uppermost in the thoughts of Hull City attacker Richard Garcia. Australia won their way through to the tournament by finishing top of their qualifying group and Garcia is so determined to play in Qatar that he has declared his English club won’t stop him from making the trip if selected. “I’m sure the European clubs won’t be too happy about it but the African blokes do it for the African Cup of Nations so why can’t we do it for the Asian Cup," Garcia said. “I don’t think the clubs have a choice because it is a FIFA date - as far as we are concerned we have to go. It comes down to whether you want to play for your country or your club. It’s a fine balance but sometimes the clubs have to realise that the national team comes first.”
Garcia, like the rest of the Socceroos, is treating the Asian Cup as a major event and with the utmost dedication. “The Asian Cup is a wonderful opportunity. It’s our European Cup and we should hold it in the same esteem. We want to go out and show ourselves as the good footballing nation that we are. After two years I feel part of the team now and I want to push on and play as much as I can. January’s tournament in will be the second time Australia have participated in the Asian Cup. In their inaugural campaign in 2007, the Socceroos reached the quarter-finals before being knocked by Japan in a penalty shoot-out.
SOCCEROOS STUN PARAGUAY
Australia celebrated their World Cup homecoming in style by stunning highly-rated Paraguay 1-0 this evening at the Sydney Football Stadium. In an enterprising and attacking performance which augurs well for the upcoming Asian Cup, Australia’s dominance over the world’s 17th ranked nation was rewarded by David Carney’s blistering drive. “I don’t think today’s goal was as good as the other two I scored for Australia but I was happy it went in,” he said. “The goalkeeper did me a favour (and left the near post open) and I think I sliced it but I’ll take it. I think we deserved the victory and the boss was really happy so it’s looking good for the future.”
Playing on home soil for the first time since the World Cup, the Socceroos created the lion’s share of chances against a Paraguay outfit that reached the last right in South Africa. Mark Schwarzer’s only meaningful save came after 13 minutes when he held Nelson Valdez’s strike from outside the 18-yad box. Australia’s first genuine chance had Diego Barreto diving to keep out Tim Cahill’s header from a Luke Wilkshire free-kick. A Jason Culina shot was parried soon after by Barreto with Josh Kennedy heading the follow-up high, then Richard Garcia’s bicycle kick missed by only millimetres following another Wilkshire delivery.
The second half opened with Garcia denied by Barreto before a goal bound Culina strike crashed into a defender. Australia’s attacking ambitions were deservedly rewarded in the 57th minute when a cross intended for Kennedy fell to Carney, who waited not a moment before lashing past the goalkeeper from 15-metres. Valdez got off a couple of shots but neither troubled Schwarzer, who later was grateful for Jon McKain’s goal line clearance after Federico Santander squeezed the ball past him. The games’ final shot was a long-range effort by Garcia that drifted wide. Western Australia’s Garcia was replaced in the 91st minute by Alex Brosque.
NORMANTON SAYS AN EMOTIONAL FAREWELL
Coaching great Graham Normanton says addressing his players following the weekends Grand Final victory over Western Knights was one of the toughest moments of his career. Normanton, 51, bowed out of the game with the 3-1 defeat of the Knights, ending a hugely successful decade-plus stint coaching some of the best players this State has ever seen. “It was a very emotional day all round for me (but) it didn’t hit me until I addressed the players in the dressing room after the game. That was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in all my time at the club,” Normanton said. “That I won’t be coaching those players again after coaching some of them for most of their football careers was a difficult thing to accept.”
Normanton was delighted with how his players stood up to be counted against a Knights side that dominated the home and away series. “It was a great team performance but it had to be to be able to beat such strong opposition,” the coach commented. “I thought that we nullified the Knights as an attacking force as they couldn’t create a single clear cut chance other than the one that they scored from during the whole 90 minutes. I knew that if we could restrict the opposition to so few chances then the likelihood is that we will win the game because I’m always confident that we can create and score goals against any defence.”
Perth started the Grand Final slowly but took control through first half Dom De Felice and Ian McMurray goals. “It took us some time but we eventually started to put our passing game together. Once we started to do that I was always confident we’d create the chances to win the game,” Normanton said. “At two-nil the game wasn’t over, the Knights threw everything at us for a 15-20 minute period in the second half and managed to score. We had to ride out the storm which I thought we did very well and then in the last fifteen minutes we took control and played some excellent football. The third goal was the icing on the cake … all in all I thought that it was a very good final.”
When David Onoforo put away Perth’s third goal the players made a beeline for their coach. “That was a special moment for me. I had turned to John Coyne to shake his hand and when I turned back the players were behind me. I can’t explain how I felt - pride, emotion, elation - all of those and more,” Normanton said. “It is moments like that that you treasure. One of the most important relationships at any football club is the one between the coach and his players. I have the utmost respect for every player at the Perth Soccer Club, they are some of hardest working, committed players that I could have wished to coach.”
Some great friendships have blossomed during Normanton’s twelve years with Perth. “The club is run very professionally and is far and away the most professional club that I have ever been involved with in WA,” he said. “I have made many friends at the club (and) if I try to name them all I will get myself into trouble with someone. Those people with whom I’m closest know who they are and know that I will value their friendship until the day I die. I’m always hesitant to name individuals when there are so many people that contribute to the success of PSC.”
The out-going coach acknowledged the contributions and support of Perth’s administrative team. “I have had the pleasure of working with two of the most professional and efficient secretary’s that I could have wished for - Neil Cole and Margaret Trinca. Their energy, enthusiasm and willingness to do whatever it took to get the job done right are second to none,” Normanton stated. “I have had four great chairmen - Michael Santella, Sam Sapienza, Frank Bosio and Joe Italiano - all of whom I would like to publicly acknowledge and thank for their contribution and support over the years.”
Normanton also tipped his hat to Perth’s coaching team. “All of the coaches that I have worked with - particularly John Coyne, Tommy Maras, Kenny Lowe, Aldo Trinca, Glen Guidici and more recently Basil Lenzo - have been an integral part of the achievements at the club,” he added. “I have also made great friends with lots of our loyal supporters who need to be commended for their unwavering support of this great club. I would like to thank them for it. Perth is a very progressive and forward thinking club. They have a desire to be the best which is detected in everything that they do.”
Of the twenty-two trophies he’s returned to Dorrien Gardens, Normanton rates the back-to-back State Championships of the last two seasons as the most pleasing. “They have been particularly difficult, not only for me personally but also for the playing group,” he explained. “The number of long-term injuries that we suffered in 2009 and 2010 and to be still in contention at the final hurdle was nothing short of a miracle. In some games I’d look behind me and at times there was as good a team standing on the sidelines as there was on the pitch. So from that point of view I think the achievements of the last two years have given me an immense amount of pleasure.”
Normanton also has fond memories of the dramatic final minutes of season 2005. “We played Sorrento on the last game of the season, both clubs could win the Championship on that day and we thrashed them six-nil,” he said. “It was a pure football lesson that you could only wish to produce on the final day of the season when you are playing for the ultimate prize. That was a very pleasurable win and sticks in my mind. But you know every trophy that I managed to oversee at the club was of great significance to me and I treasure them, all twenty-two, it’s something which I can look back on with a great deal of pride.”
Many quality players have honed their skills under Normanton, who needed some coaxing before revealing Socceroos striker Nikita Rukavytsya as the best player he has coached. “This is a difficult question for me to answer as I know I will miss some one out. The first players that come to mind are the players that I have coached over a long period of time who have been loyal to me and the club, but I can’t say any have contributed more than any other,” Normanton said. “The best player from a purely football perspective is probably Nikita. He had explosive pace, great touch in tight situations and superb finishing ability, his goal per game ratio was superb.”
The other names Normanton reeled off read like a State team. “There wouldn’t any better forwards than Andreas Oliveira, David Onoforo and Nikita,” he said. “As defenders there was none better than Michael Icanovski, he was a rock that no forward ever got the better of and an absolute pleasure to coach. Along with him I would say Aaron Cole was also one of best. In midfield would be Antonio Naglieri, Robert Puca, Todd Howarth, Robert Gaspar, Greg Sharland, Matt Danskin, Jamie Coyne and Mark Pottier … I know I’ll have missed somebody out.”
The tragic loss of his parents put the role football plays in Normanton’s life into perspective. “The loss of both my parents was a very difficult time,” he said. “Seeing them suffer the way they did in the last months/weeks of their life certainly had a profound effect on me. I always felt that no matter what the situation that life put me in that I could get through it without too much trouble. Through this difficult time I found out that I wasn’t bullet proof. Like all of us we have our ups and downs and the last two years have been very difficult for me.”
Normanton admits the decision to call it a day was a very difficult one. “I have been involved in professional football since I was 16, virtually without a break,” he said. “Coaching Perth has been something that I have thoroughly enjoyed (and) if it was a full-time position then I wouldn’t have resigned. I had some personal and business issues that are causing me some problems and I need time to sort out those issues before I can concentrate on football. I’m either 100% or nothing … I just need time to recharge my batteries so I can continue doing what I love doing - coaching a football club.”
Games against Western Knights and Floreat Athena have always held special significance for Normanton. “They are the two clubs that we built up a rivalry with over the twelve years because we always met in the most important games. I’d reckon they are both glad to see the back of me,” Normanton joked. “The satisfaction of being able to win when it counts most was very rewarding. Their supporters’ confrontations and reaction to me was something that I always looked forward to as it just gave me that driving force to shut them up - which generally we did. But saying that I have total respect for both clubs and their supporters, rivalries like those are gold and something the game can’t lose.”
The local game has undergone a lot of positive change during the twelve years Normanton has been with Perth. “I don’t think that the game could’ve been at a lower ebb than it was when I took over at Perth,” stated Normanton, who feels there is plenty of room for further improvement both on and off the field of play. “The new criteria brought in by Football West needs to be carried out and adhered to by the clubs. Like it or not some, clubs need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the next phase of the development of our game. I know there are some Perth supporters who won’t go to certain venues because of their third rate facilities that exist.”
An ongoing lack of interest in and support of the State League is something that troubles Normanton. “I can’t understand is why the support of our game has dwindled over the years. It is increasingly difficult to get the community to turn up week in and week out,” he said. “Football in WA is well worth supporting, and I don’t think that we, as a sport, believe that. There are far too many people who criticise and are very negative who are involved in the game … getting in there and solving the issues and helping promote the game is more difficult than criticism but it is a rewarding thing to do.”
“The strength of the game and the clubs is in its membership, indeed the size of its membership,” Normanton added. “We need to project ourselves as a forward thinking sport and one in which people can have a great deal of pleasure by being involved and supporting it. I am passionate about the game here in WA as are plenty of other people. I know we are not the EPL or Serie A or La Liga but the entertainment from a game of football is not always dependant on the whether the standard is at the elite level or not. Our league has a good product and is very entertaining.”
Normanton has always ‘walked the walk’ when it comes to making himself available for interview, be it for footballwa.net or the various radio shows which air weekly across the metropolitan area. “Your web site is fantastic, I congratulate you and thank you for the support of the game in WA. You all deserve a medal, keep up the good work. The ‘Mad Irishman’ (‘Lets Talk Football’ host Eamon Duffy) is doing a good job on the airwaves and he needs all the help he can get,” Normanton commented. “I would love to see it grow to the level that I feel it should be. Promoting and marketing of our sport are ways in which we can spread the word and I have been only too pleased to contribute in those areas.”
Football must present a united front if it is to get mainstream media coverage according to Normanton. “The written and electronic media are very protective of Aussie Rules and cricket. We know when a Collingwood player has a broken toe nail but we can’t get half a dozen lines on the weekend games in the WA Premier League,” he said. “We need to be more aggressive when we approach media organisations and convince them that our sport will sell papers and turn on radios. The only way it will change is if the football public shouts it from the roof tops as a united sport and demand that - by sheer weight of numbers - our sport be given the coverage that it deserves.”
NATIONAL TITLE COMES WEST
Western Australia won their first National Youth Championship in over 30 years after taking out the Under-15's title in Coffs Harbour last week. The State Under-14 team showed they have the potential of making it back-to-back titles next year by finishing equal third. A record nine West Australian’s were identified as future national teams players with Nicholas Ambrogio, Daniel Buhagiar, Scott Galloway, Callum Richardson, Laurence Shuruma, Daniel DeSilva and Jack Iredale gaining All-Stars selection while Riley Woodcock and Slobodan Vulin had previously been identified via January’s Institute Challenge.
The success of the Under-15's came as no surprise to assistant coach Cris Ola. "Most of the players were involved in the National Training Centre program for the whole season and also had a great opportunity to build their international playing experience one month ago in the Gangjin International Tournament against some of the best teams of their age in the world," he said. "A great deal of appreciation has to go to all the people involved in their development so far, including club coaches, NTC coaching staff and Football West High Performance coaching staff."
Vulin and Ambrogio found the net as the Under-15’s overturned a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Capital Football on the opening day of competition. It was a similar story the following day when New South Wales scored twice in the first half before Ambrogio, Galloway and Kieran Colwell netted in a 3-2 win. A Thursday morning 2-0 defeat of Northern New South Wales came courtesy of Ambrogio and Laurence Shuruma goals, while that afternoon Ambrogio, Buhagiar and Colwell were again on target to see off South Australia 3-1.
The Under-15’s Championship was decided on Friday when the only two unbeaten sides, Western Australia and Victoria Metro, came face-to-face. Colwell fired the west into a 28th minute lead only for James Conversano to restore parity soon after. It was fitting that goal-a-game Ambrogio would settle the encounter by hitting the winner midway through the second half. Vulin was deservedly named the Player of the Tournament with Ambrogio not surprisingly picking up the Golden Boot.
Pearse McKee put the Under-14’s ahead early against Queensland Metro who fought back to earn a 1-1 draw. Western Australia had few answers as Victoria Metro ran out 3-0 winners on Wednesday. The following day produced a 2-1 win against South Australia, Matthew Ntoumenopoulos and McKee the scorers, before a 4-1 afternoon loss to New South Wales Metro, against who McKee again found the net. The Under-15’s campaign came to a close with DeSilva scoring in a 1-1 draw against Northern New South.
The Under-15 squad at the 2010 National Youth Championships was Ogi Lalovic (Inglewood United), Nicholas Ambrogio, Daniel Buhagiar, Jacob Collard, Kieran Colwell, Matthew Davies, Scott Galloway, Luke Radonich, Callum Richardson, Slobodan Vulin, Riley Woodcock (National Training Centre), Bor Bor Sam, Lawrence Shuruma, Alexsandar Suleski (Noranda), Guy Kalma (Perth SC) and Jordan Franken (Sorrento).
The Under-14 squad at the 2010 National Youth Championships featured Leo Athanasiou, Mohamed Beyan, Jesse Lazzaro, Matthew Akerman, Ryan Barker (Cockburn City), Ben Hombert (Floreat Athena), Joshua Tucker, Matthew Ntoumenopoulos (ECU Joondalup), Rocco Pizzata, Jeremy Tshongo (Perth SC), Daniel Passareli, Gareth Crawley, Daniel DeSilva, Jack Iredale, Pearse McKee (Stirling Lions) and Harry Hawkins (Wanneroo City).
COCKBURN REWARD ESCAPE ARTIST CASTIELLO
Tony Castiello is busy making plans for next season after pulling off the great escape in 2010. It looked almost certain Cockburn City were headed for the second tier when Castiello took over as coach early in June. Under their new coach the Cockerels picked up six wins and a draw from their final eleven games to pull clear of the relegation zone. Having secured Cockburn’s place in the top flight, Castiello is working on returning them to the upper reaches of the table in 2011. “All my players have said they want to stay with the club,” the coach said. “I have made a pledge to them and the committee that we will win some silverware next season.”
Cockburn had won once in eleven games when Castiello made the move to Dalmatinac Park. “It was a very difficult coaching gig, with the club at the foot of the table and four points off the pace when I arrived. I set a clear objective of twenty-five points to get us out of trouble and our results confirmed us as the in-form team in the second half of the season. The only team with a better record during that period was Stirling Lions,” he explained. “So theoretically had the club had the same form in the first half (of the season) then Cockburn would have finished third in the table. I’m extremely pleased that I was able to keep Cockburn in the Premier League with pretty much the same squad.”
Such was the turnaround in Cockburn’s fortunes that they defeated Western Knights and Perth SC in the second half of the season. “It was a difficult start for me at the club. We meet my former club Western Knights and Perth and won both games, which put some much need confidence back into the team,” Castiello said. “But the game that really showed the teams true metal was against Inglewood. We were lucky to go in to half time at one-all (so) there were some stern words said at the break. The team responded well and we ended up winning two-one, looking back now had we lost that game the club would have gone down.”
A strong sense of self-belief helped Castiello’s players move on quickly from further disappointment. “I think two games come to mind where the team slipped back into their lacklustre ways. Balcatta away - although I did have five players out that day - and Sorrento at home were poor performances. We lost both games badly but after those disappointments we got back on track,” he said. “It was a real team effort and it’s hard to single out players. Keeper Dejan Aleksic was outstanding while Paul Natalie, Shane Nunes, Adrian Webster and Marc Anthony had the biggest influence on the team, but then that was expected of them.”
Castiello has every confidence Cockburn can improve in leaps and bounds next season as their youngsters experience more senior football. “We very fortunate enough to get some good young players finding form, and one of the best was 19-year old Rory Feely. His second part of the season was great, scoring nine goals, but we used him wisely and made sure he got the right balls in the right areas,” Castiello explained. “Much of his success came from Wesley Britz (18) and Shin Ito (19) both of whom did a great job out wide. David Araya (22) was injured for much of the first half of the season but came into my team after the first two games and never looked back.”
CHEESEMAN GETS OUR VOTE
The local football community has voted Mathew Cheeseman the whistleblower of the year. Cheeseman, who officiated both the State League Cup Final and Grand Final was by far and away the most popular choice in our most recent poll which asked ‘Who was the standout referee of 2010?’ Cheeseman collected a staggering 57% of the vote to finish well clear of runner-up Josh Mihevc, who had 21% of the count. Michael Tolmie (8%) took third place with David Scragg, Steven Gregory (both 6%) and Michael Jasinski (4%) completing the field. 151 votes were cast during the 16-day polling period.
SCHWARZER DOMINATES NATIONAL AWARDS
Veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has again grabbed the glory at Australian football's big awards night, scooping two of the three major titles on offer. For the second year running Schwarzer, who plays for Fulham, collected the FFA Footballer of the Year and was voted Player of the Year by his peers in the Professional Footballers Association. The evenings other major award, the Football Media Association's Player of the Year, went home with attacking dynamo Tim Cahill of Everton.
Defenders dominated the women's categories where Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane Roar) picked up the FFA Footballer of the Year, and Servet Uzunlar (Sydney FC) the inaugural PFA Footballer of the Year. Rising stars Tommy Oar (Utrecht) and Sam Kerr (Perth Glory) were named the federations Under-20 Footballers of the Year. The PFA Harry Kewell Medal for Australia's best under-23 player went to Mitch Langerak (Borussia Dortmund). All winners in the 2010 Australian Football Awards were announced at the gala dinner attended by 450 guests at the Sofitel Sydney.
O’REILLY IS UP FOR THE CHALLENGE
New coach of Swan United, John O’Reilly, can’t wait for next season to begin. Guiding the black and whites Reserve team to second place in 2010 led the club to promote him to the senior coaching position in place of Jamie Goodman, who was unable to prevent the club from slipping down to the second tier. “I’m really looking forward to the challenge of next season,” said O’Reilly. “It won’t be an easy task but with the right mentality amongst the players, and the guidance of a dedicated coaching team, we will strive to get the best results in the first division.”
O’Reilly isn’t concerned that Swan will enter next season without several of this years’ squad. “Players will leave but some players would have left even if we had stayed up. But that opens up a lot of opportunities for the loyal players that have committed to working towards getting the club back where it wants to be,” he said. “New players will come in, but they need to fit a certain mould. I want players with strong work ethics, determination and an expectancy to fight for their rewards. I am currently in talks with several players, one of which is an ex A-League player. I believe Swan will attract a lot of attention once the dust from last season has settled.”
While added depth through recruitment, O’Reilly expects to see some of the Reserve team progress to senior ranks next year. “There is no reason for any of my Reserve team players not to be able to step up, as long as they are willing to apply themselves in training, work harder and be accepting that they need to work their way into the team and the play with consistency to retain their spot,” O’Reilly said. “The game against NTC on the last day of the season highlighted this. The opposition were technically a better team but we followed a game plan that frustrated and prevented them from playing, and that is what we have been good at all year. This attribute will be essential going into the new season.”
O’Reilly played semi-professionally in England and Ireland for the likes of Gillingham, Faversham Town and CIE Ranch, where he collected a Leinster Cup winners medal. “I was number one for Kent County for a number of years, which would be the equivalent to State representative level. I was lucky enough to represent against some of Europe’s best young sides, but the pinnacle being a tough game against a South Africa International XI,” explained the former goalkeeper. “But my fondest memories are with Fulston Zebras, where I played for ten years, seven as captain. Every time I go back I arrange a reunion game with the past players, the scores get higher each year but the tempo is getting considerably slower.”
After hanging up his gloves O’Reilly moved into coaching before heading to Australia. “My coaching career started young as I took some serious injuries to the ankles,” he explained. “I studied and passed my UEFA ‘B’ badges in Ireland, over five years, under the guidance of the Football Association of Ireland. I worked for an established club called Castle Knock Celtic for four years during which I worked with a junior team, winning local league honours on two occasions and cup glory in my last year. I also worked with the senior set-up, as a goalkeeper coach.”
Two seasons with each Morley Windmills and Ashfield preceded O’Reilly’s arrival at Swan, where he is part of the junior development program. “We want our coaches to feel like they are contributing to the junior player’s development and not just helping out,” he said. “I’m pushing to put a program in place for the junior teams. I believe every coach needs a manual to assist them in the development of our young players. I also want to set-up a forum to allow coaches to give feedback on their season, seek solutions to various situations they may encounter in the role, and general assistance.”
ON THIS DAY … 1973
The name Ken Hordell meant little to the football community of Western Australia until the night of 6th October, 1973, when he was named winner of the Gold Medal. With latter stages of the count broadcast live on Channel 9, the Stirling City utility surprised all by taking out the award as the state’s fairest and best player.
As the night came to a close three players emerged as contenders for the award - pre-count favourite Mike Quayle (Cracovia), Denis Barstow (Morley Windmills) and Hordell. By the final round of counting Quayle and Hordell were locked together on 21 votes with the latter’s best on ground performance against Olympic Kingsway earning him the state’s top individual award.
Hordell (24 votes) took home the Gold Medal by three votes over Quayle (21) with Windmills defender Barstow (16) a distant third. A further vote off the pace was Ascot striker Ray Ilott (15), John Van Oosten (Windmills), Paul Messer (Bayswater United) and Mike Ireson (Olympic) ended joint fourth on 14 votes each, one more than Kwinana United’s Geoff Cole.
DOUBLE A “MASSIVE ACHIEVEMENT” FOR PERTH YOUNGSTERS: TRINCA
Perth SC confirmed their status as masters of the youth game by claiming the Youth Premier League and Cup double in 2010. The Blues total dominance of the regular season was rewarded with a record eighteenth League title, the youngsters ending a massive ten points clear of runners-up Floreat Athena. With one trophy already theirs, Perth then showed great resilience in coming from behind to out-shoot Cockburn City on penalties in a dramatic Cup Final. “Finishing well clear at the top of the table and winning the Cup was not only historic but also a massive achievement for the team,” said coach Aldo Trinca.
The basis for Perth’s winter successes is a strong work ethic according to Trinca. “I always tell the boys you get out what you put in, and by our results you can tell that they worked extremely hard and were deserving of the wins,” the coach said. “Dedication, team work and determination were our foundations going into the season. Our skills combined with these three factors worked together to strengthen the team, and in turn allowed us to sit comfortably in front of the rest of the field.”
What made Perth’s League and Cup double even more memorable for Trinca were the hurdles his players had to overcome in order to stay on top of the pile. “There were a number of injuries in the senior squads and that consequently depleted the under-18 numbers, that was an on-going issue throughout the season,” explained the coach, whose team selection was hampered by youth competition rules. “It was made even more difficult by the rules and regulations which restrict a players’ ability to play in the junior competition and the under-18s consecutively.”
Trinca has no doubts retiring first team coach Graham Normanton, whose final game was Saturday’s Grand Final win over Western Knights, has made a lasting mark on the club. “Graham has been and forever will be a key asset and legend at Perth SC and in the football community in general,” Trinca said. “Graham, the Reserves coach and myself have worked closely to ensure the club continues to develop quality players so the future of the club will continue to be successful. He loves the game and our club, and he’ll leave a legacy of dedication, determination and passion that will linger for years to come.”
A MINOR ISSUE IS A BIG ISSUE TO SOME (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show)
Last year we stoked the fires for those who love to debate who the champions are at the end of a league season - the team that finishes top of the League or those who win the Finals series. Western Knights won the League title and Perth won the Finals series this year and both are deserving of their respective titles.
Now it may only be semantics, but surely if you finish the League season top of the log you deserve more recognition than ‘Minor Premiers’. Why not call them ‘League Premiers’, especially as there is no team currently called ‘Premiers’, and the team that wins the Finals series could be crowned the ‘Champions’.
Please don’t give us comments such as this is the way it’s done in other codes as reasoning - does that mean its right? Ask people you know who play sport how often they have won a league title over a whole season. It is a rare feat and does not warrant being belittled by having the word ‘Minor’ prefacing the achievement.
GLORY HAVE TO TAKE CHANCES: SAGE
Tony Sage is refusing to panic despite Perth Glory slumping to a fourth consecutive A-League defeat. The Glory owner says the team needs just "an ounce of luck" to start scoring goals with more regularity and getting the results to justify his recent multi-million dollar investment. Scott Neville's headed sixth-minute equaliser against Brisbane at nib Stadium was Glory's first goal since round four, but it was rendered ineffectual by the visitors' winner four minutes into stoppage time. The club suffered a further blow yesterday with confirmation defender Jamie Harnwell would miss at least one match with a torn right calf muscle.
Sage has been pleased with the performances of Glory's midfield and defence, but said the strikers needed to start capitalising on their teammates' good work. "I think our back half is doing their job, the midfield's getting the ball to the strikers and unfortunately the strikers haven't been able to slot them away," Sage said. "We played really well against Adelaide but the ones I was really disappointed about were the Gold Coast and Newcastle games. They were the ones I was really upset about. Although we lost (to Brisbane), and I don't like losses, I felt they played particularly well for about 70 minutes. Both sides were intent on playing attacking football and that's all I can ask if we're entertaining."
OUR PROMISING SOCCEROOS (courtesy the ‘West Australian’)
Former international striker Alistair Edwards believes the current crop of Young Socceroos are the men most likely to give the national team the cutting edge at the 2022 World, which could be hosts by Australia. Edwards, who as the country’s assistant technical director has helped mould development pathways for Australia’s brightest young talent, is also the Young Socceroos assistant coach and is with the team in China for the AFC Under-19 Championship.
While the Australia squad, which includes Eli Babalj, Mark Birighitti, Ryan Edwards and Alex Pearson, is focused on producing the goods in China, the assistant coach said they were also aware of their place on Australian football’s timeline. The group will be in their late 20’s - and potentially at the peak of their careers - when the 2022 World Cup rolls around. “These are the players who will be playing in the World Cup that we are trying to get,” Edwards said. “These players and the Joeys coming through are going to be in their prime ten or twelves years from now.”
Edwards has been instrumental in rolling out Australia’s new national curriculum, which is expected to be improved in West Australia next season with stronger links between Perth Glory’s youth team, the National Training Centre program and the Football West competition. A development team is planned for the local Premier League. Edwards said players needed to be exposed to almost year-round competition, which should be delivered next year, to reach their potential.
ROCKY PUTS GLORY ON THE CANVAS
Rocky Visconte came off the bench to score deep in stoppage time and earn Brisbane Roar a 2-1 win over Perth Glory at Perth Oval this evening. Brisbane were ahead early through Reinaldo, and while Scott Neville equalised four minutes later Visconte fired in late to condemn Glory to a fourth successive loss. “It’s just a bad ricochet. The ball bounced in, so it was unfortunate,” said Glory coach David Mitchell of Brisbane’s winner. “The last ten minutes we created a couple of chances; it must have been a great game to watch. It was end to end, two teams committed to playing football and creating chances.”
Brisbane made a dream start with Reinaldo netting at close-range with only a couple of minutes on the clock, the Brazil-born striker meeting a cross from Thomas Broich after he’d cut past Neville and Jacob Burns on the right. Glory hit back immediately, Neville heading in from 5-metes after Mile Sterjovski nodded a Robbie Fowler corner back across the face of goal. The home side should have taken the lead two minutes later when a superb through ball from Fowler sent clear Michael Baird but his weak shot was held comfortably by Michael Theokitos.
Baird was presented a great chance to make amends but fired high from 8-metres after latching on to a booming Tando Velaphi clearance. With Matt McKay pulling the strings in midfield, Brisbane were next to threaten through a powerful Erik Paartalu shot which Velaphi pushed wide at full stretch. In the 27th minute Glory suffered a body blow when club veteran Jamie Harnwell limped out of the game, his place taken by debutant Ryan Pearson. Either side could have entered the break in front, Matthew Smith and Reinaldo send the ball past the target while at the other end Sterjovski had a header cleared off the line.
The first chance of the second half had Fowler head straight at Theoklitos from an Adriano Pellegrino cross. It didn’t take long for Brisbane to get on top, substitute Mitch Nichols found the net but had it disallowed for offside just minutes before Broich lashed an free-kick narrowly wide. In the 81st minute Reinaldo sent clear Nichols whose shot was superbly saved by Velaphi. Brisbane’s persistence was rewarded in the 94th minute when Nicholls pass into the area made its way to Visconte who, despite the presence of Todd Howarth, looped the ball over Velaphi to roll into an empty net.
WHITFORD CAUSE SUNDAY CUP UPSET (with Geoff Mason, Football West)
Division One outfit Whitford City caused a major upset by toppling Olympic Kingsway 2-1 in this afternoon’s Sunday League Cup Final at 6PR Stadium. Joe Hodgson gave Whitford a half-time lead to which Stewart Hartman added just ten seconds after the re-start, and while Felim Rugel halved the deficient Whitford held on to claim their first major trophy. “We took our chances and I couldn’t be happier with my team tonight,” said coach Andy Wise. “We were promoted last week from the Division One, but this Cup victory is still a bigger moment for me.”
After a quiet opening spell it was Whitford that began to assert themselves on the game. Great interplay between Ben Doyle and Rudiger Cotzer ended with the latter calling goalkeeper Daniel Armitage into action for the first time. Kingsway burst briefly into life by creating a trio of opportunities. Captain Stephen Beesley shot just wide from 22-metres before Rugel jinxed his way past two defenders only to lift high from 8-metres. Rugel then set-up Beesley whose looping long-range attempt landed on top of Jamie Serra’s net.
These misses were compounded in the 25th minute when Hodgson rammed the ball in from close-range after Stefan Lombardo’s shot from the top of the 18-yard box came back off the post. Six minutes later Kingsway would have equalised but Serra make a superb reflex save to keep out Aaron Lickiss’ powerful header from 7-metres. Despite late pressure from Whitford, which included a Ben Doyle effort that was scrambled desperately off the goal line, the underdogs went into half-time with the slenderest of leads.
The second half had barely started when Rudiger Cotzer played through for Hartman who coolly finished low past the on-coming ‘keeper in a one-on-one. Kingsway hit back within minutes, Rugel converting a penalty awarded after Gordan Mason stamped on Chris Currie. Whitford were unlucky not to add to their tally on 53 minutes when Sam Peter’s powerful header was cleared off the line and Hodgson’s rebound shot was comfortably easily by Armitage. Kingsway were now starting to apply the pressure and ten minutes later Rugel played through substitute Josh Rolls, however, Serra was quick off his line quickly to deny the youngster. Despite further chances to both teams it wasn’t until the closing stages that either looked like scoring again. An Aaron Platten cross found Rolls but his effort from 15-metres was saved by Serra. And Cotzer should have put the game beyond reach but, after rounding Armitage, he failed to finish from close-range.
PERTH SALUTES NORMANTON WITH GRAND FINAL WIN
Graham Normanton brought the curtain down on a remarkable coaching career by guiding Perth SC to a 3-1 victory over arch-rivals Western Knights in this afternoon’s All Flags State League Grand Final at 6PR Stadium. It was the twenty-second trophy Perth had won under Normanton in eleven year, and the seventh time they’ve savoured Grand Final glory. First half goals by Dom De Felice and Ian McMurray set the scene with David Onoforo converting a stoppage time penalty to secure the trophy, but only after Simon Versaico had pulled one back for the Knights.
After a relatively even start Perth gained the ascendency amid some controversy. Referee Mathew Cheeseman dismissed appeals for a penalty despite Garth Lecky appearing to handle a Hayden Doyle cross. The drama didn’t end there are minutes later Knights goalkeeper Frazer Siddall escaped without so much as a booking after handling the ball outside his 18-yard box. Antonio Naglieri stepped up to take the resulting free-kick which crashed into the upright, much to the relief of Siddall who was well-beaten.
Perth deservedly took the lead on 32 minutes when Dom De Felice was on hand to tap in from close-range after an exquisite Robbie Puca free-kick had been nodded down by McMurray. Falling behind may have spurred the Knights into life, however, genuine chances on goal were few as they struggled to break down a resilient defence. The pendulum swung back in Perth’s favour after McMurray was on hand to fire into an empty net after Siddall did well to save but was unable to hold onto a David Onoforo shot a minute from the interval.
Needing a goal to get back in the game, Knights coach Carl Medica threw caution to the wind by bringing on attack-minded Daniel Trim for Lecky just before the hour. That move paid dividends eight minutes later when Stuart Montgomery crossed for Simon Versacio to head in at close-range and half the deficit. Medica did his best to inspire his troops to a second goal and the introduction of David Micevski, who was suffering a severe bout of flu, had a noticeable effect on the Knights attacking impetus.
David Micevski had been on the park only a few minutes when he took the ball deep inside the area before squaring across the face of goal only to see Shaun Kilkelly set in and clear the danger. As the Knights threw everyone forward in a desperate attempt to send the game to extra-time, Perth delivered the knock-out blow. Referee Cheeseman had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot after Jack Doyle brought down Onoforo, who picked himself up to fire past Siddall and seal the State Champions title.
Perth SC: Devon Spence, Trent Kay, Craig Simpson, Hayden Doyle, Sean Kilkelly, Robbie Puca, David Onoforo, Andreas Oliveira, Antonio Naglieri, Ian McMurray, Dom De Felice
Western Knights: Frazer Siddall, Duncan Hind, Stuart Ferguson, David Annall, Garth Lecky (Daniel Trim 58), Daniel Micevski, David Price, Simon Versacio (David Micevski 74), Anthony Campbell (Fiachra McArdle 84), Jack Doyle, Stuart Montgomery
Bookings: Simpson (18), Annall (35)
Referee: Mathew Cheeseman
FAMILIAR FOES GO ROUND ONE FINAL TIME
Old friends Perth SC and Western Knights renew acquaintances for the fifth time this year in Saturday’s All Flags Grand Final at 6PR Stadium (1.30pm). For Perth it’s an opportunity to defend their State Champions crown and farewell coach legend Graham Normanton after a decade at the helm. The Knights have been the Premier League’s top performers in home and away competition two years running and the time is ripe for them to wrestle the crown away from Perth.
The Knights reward for finishing top of the Premier League table was a bye in the first week of the finals series, after which they spanked Perth 2-0 in a tight semi-final at Nash Field. The Knights dominated from the outset that afternoon but it took until midway through the second half for Anthony Campbell to break the deadlock. The game - and a Grand Final appearance - was sealed by Stuart Montgomery’s late penalty conversion.
Montgomery’s ability to score - he’s so far struck the net eighteen times this year - as well as create for those around him poses significant problems for the Blues back three. Simon Versaico has been in terrific form throughout the season while the arrival of Irish import Jack Doyle gives the side plenty of pace down both flanks. David Micevski’s skill and creativity in central midfield is vital to the Knights chances of success, likewise the defensive clout of David Annall, Stuart Ferguson and goalkeeper Fraser Sidall.
Perth, who ended the regular season in third spot, enter the Grand Final match-sharp after playing each of the past three weeks. Their campaign began with a thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Stirling Lions where David Onoforo scored twice and Andreas Oliveira once. Perth then went down 2-0 to the Knights in the semi-finals, but eight days later bounced back with a classy 4-1 home thrashing of Stirling with Onoforo and Oliveira again on the scoresheet along with Ian McMurray and Antonio Naglieri.
Normanton would love nothing more than to guide Perth to a record twenty-second trophy in his final game as coach. For that to happen, Shaun Kilkelly, Craig Simpson and Trent Kay will have to be on top of their game at the back. You won’t find a more creative and experienced central pairing than Naglieri and Puca at this level, while Hayden Doyle is sure to cause the Knights problems out wide. Onoforo is a finisher of the highest calibre and has a key role to play in the final third.
ANNALL SEEKS GRAND FINAL GLORY
Western Knights captain David Annall says his team has figured out how to tame the attacking instincts of Perth SC as they prepare to do battle in this weekend’s Grand Final. The tactics employed by Carl Medica and Alex Christie a fortnight ago worked a treated with the Knights running out 2-0 winners, and a similar approach will be needed on Saturday according to Annall. “Carl and Alex had us playing a certain brand of football the other week in order to stop some of Perth’s strengths,” he said. “We’ll need to re-apply those same tactics this Saturday and pick-up where we left off.”
Last seasons Grand Final loss to Perth is fresh in the minds of the Knights, who are determined to go one step further than runners-up this time around. “Winning the league after twenty-two matches two years in a row isn’t enough - we just need that little bit extra,” said Annall. “Those (players) that joined the club this year realise just how strong the passion and rivalry is between our two clubs. We can use the Grand Final loss from last year as further desire to go that one bit further.”
A big bonus for the Knights has been the return to form of striker Anthony Campbell. “Anthony has come good at the right time of the season. He hadn’t been the same player we had last year due to a few injury niggles and some lack in confidence,” commented Annall. “But in recent weeks he’s back and doing what he does best. His pace and strength can turn a game on its head and, to be honest, when Anthony is working hard and causing trouble for the opposition the whole team lifts.”
Stuart Montgomery’s return after a stint at Sorrento and the late arrival of Irishman Jack Doyle has given the Knights additional flair in the final third of the park. “Monty’s a good mate of mine, I was stoked to hear he was coming back to the club. I love watching him from the back-line, he’s such a clever player who can create something from nothing,” said Annall. “Jack was a great pick-up for us; his skill on the ball is second to none in this league. It baffles me how he keeps the ball at his feet sometimes, it was just a shame we didn’t have him for the full season.”
Annall has nothing but respect for out-going Perth coach Graham Normanton but says the Knights are hell-bent on spoiling his farewell from the game. “This weekend will certainly add to the on-going rivalry between the clubs … you would think they had a Serbian background the way it is sometimes,” the imposing defender joked. “I’ve known Graham for a while now and he’ll get his boys up for it, and they’ll all want to send him out on a good note. I’m just hoping we can be there to spoil it.”
BACK-TO-BACK CHAMPIONSHIPS IS PUCA’S GOAL
Perth SC goes into this weekend’s Grand Final brimming with confidence after despatching Stirling Lions so comprehensively last weekend. Team captain Robbie Puca provided much of the inspiration in Perth’s 4-1 thrashing of Stirling which set-up Saturday’s showdown with Western Knights. “It certainly was a complete performance and it showed on the scoreboard,” Puca said. “It silenced a few people who thought we didn’t have it in us. We have a lot of confidence that we can go one step further and defend our title on Saturday.”
Puca thought his season had been ended by a hamstring injury when coach Graham Normanton approached about lining up against Stirling. “I was just going through my rehab, just so I could stay involved for the finals, then on Thursday night I was asked if I was okay to join the session,” he explained. “I completed training without any discomfort when Normo said he wanted to risk me. I thought I had nothing to lose and I gave it a shot … now I’m feeling great and preparing for a Grand Final.”
Perth seems to be peaking at the right time of the year after getting over a few early season hurdles. “We lost a few players at the start of the season and it really tested our depth, then to have every natural winger injured when we hadn’t even hit the halfway mark of the season put us through more testing times,” said Puca. “But we’ve discovered the versatility of some players and the talent we have in our youth which has put us in a good position for the finals.”
Amongst the youngsters who have shown themselves to be future first team regulars are Josh Periera, Matt Beyer, Simon Wilson and Daniel Coletta. “The one advantage the squad gets from injuries is the emergence of these young boys,” commented Puca, himself a product of Perth’s fertile youth system. “They add a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the squad to stop it from going stale. They’re not only important for us now but also for the future of the club.”
Games between Perth and the Knights have long been considered a season highlight and Puca expects Saturday’s Grand Final to continue that tradition. “When is it ever not a cracking game against the Knights? And if you add in that its Normo’s last game it makes it even more special,” said the midfielder, well aware the Knights will be throwing everything at his team. “We’ve had the wood on the Knights in finals, not just last season. But they are a good side and they’ll be using that to drive them on to try and turn it around.”
NEVILLE EYES OLYMPIC GLORY (courtesy the ‘West Australian’)
Outstanding young defender Scott Neville has set his sights on a spot in the Australia squad for the London Olympic Games in 2012. The 21-year old Perth Glory player featured in all three games as Australia finished third in a four nations tournament in Vietnam last week, playing a full 90 minutes in a narrow loss to North Korea and draw with Kuwait. Neville shapes as a crucial inclusion for Glory in Sunday's A-League clash with Brisbane Roar at Perth Oval, with Jamie Coyne's suspension opening a place for Neville at right back.
Neville said he was feeling fresh despite a gruelling five-day playing schedule in the Vietnamese humidity and a 26-hour return flight via Sydney. He described the tournament as a valuable learning curve, having started out in his regular right-back position before moving up the field to the right wing and filling in at left back. "I felt my performances were good and it was good to show my versatility," Neville said. "All the feedback from the coaches was pretty positive."
Now that he's had a taste of it, Neville is hungry for more game time in national colours, declaring a return to the country of his birth for the Olympics as a burning ambition. "It was great to play for my country and wear the green and gold shirt," he said. "It's a thrill when you see your name and number lined up next to your kitbag. The intensity at international level was really high and it was a good learning curve, so hopefully I can be a part of it again. The Olympics would be a great achievement if I can make the squad."
The Olympics could serve as the perfect shop window for Neville, who has ambitions to further his career in Europe. "Every youngster thinks about going overseas but I want to concentrate on doing well for Glory this season and hopefully opportunities arise from that," he said. The A-League's a better competition now and you're playing with experienced players which you can learn off. I think staying around for a few years and learning your trade in the A-League before you go overseas is a good thing."
For the time being Neville is hell-bent on helping Glory get this season back on track following three consecutive losses without scoring, slipping the club back to mid-table. "The last three games obviously haven't gone like we've wanted them to go, but that's football and the next three games might go for us," Neville said. "Week to week things change in football so much. Things aren't going for us but once one goal goes in, I think the floodgates will open."
‘WINNING CULTURE’ IS A PART OF PERTH: WILSON
A culture of winning is the secret ingredient that will give Perth SC the advantage in this weekend's State League Grand Final. Perth play arch-rivals Western Knights in the 2010 season finale on Saturday at 6PR Stadium and Blues midfielder Simon Wilson has absolutely no doubts about which team will come out on top. "As a player you want to win trophies and Perth is a club that demands success, they've create a winning culture that is part of the team, and part of you as a player," said Wilson.
A big part of that winning culture has been coach Graham Normanton who, since taking up the reins in mid-1999, has guided Perth to a staggering twenty-one trophies. Normanton's decision to stand down at the end of the season has given his players added impetus to get their hands on this seasons final piece of silverware. "Normo will not be around next year due to personal reasons, he has given everything for this club so it would be excellent to give him the big send-off that he deserves with a win," Wilson commented.
Goals by Antonio Naglieri, David Onoforo, Andreas Oliveira and Ian McMurray highlighted Perth's 4-1 weekend demolition of Stirling, booking Normanton's team a third successive Grand Final. "We were really clinical on the weekend, created loads of chances and played some really good football," said Wilson, who came off the bench midway through the second half of the Stirling win. "At training during the week we all knew it was do-or-die and we were really up for the game ... on top of that we really wanted another cracked at the Knights."
It's been an enjoyable season for Wilson, who readily admits he'd like to have seen a little more game time. "I always want to play every game and I haven't done so, but I have been more involved this year than previous seasons," commented Wilson, who made eleven league appearances. "Training with the lads and playing at this level has helped me improve my game. On the whole it's been a great year, especially helping the Reserves win the league."
Wilson, who has been used off the bench in each of Perth's three finals to date, knows he faces an uphill battle convincing Normanton and assistant John Coyne they should change a winning team. "It's going to be difficult (getting into the first eleven), especially with the fantastic performance the boys put in on the weekend," he said. "So I'm just going to put in the hard yards this week and enjoy the lead-up to the final. I'm happy to play my part when called upon, whenever that will be."
Spurred on by the comprehensive nature of their Preliminary Final win over Stirling, everyone at Perth has buzzing this week in anticipation of another State Champions title. "We go into the game full of confidence after that performance Stirling but its a Final and its what happens on the day, anyone can win," commented Wilson. "It's going to be cracker, the Knights have some great players. When we put together the team football we know we can play then we can beat anyone in this league - and we'll be out to prove that on the weekend."
KNIGHTS DETERMINED TO FINISH THE JOB: TRIM
The bitter memory of losing last year’s Grand Final will inspire Western Knights to victory when they step onto the field for a season finale re-match with Perth SC this weekend. Knights’ attacker Daniel Trim says there are many reasons why the Knights will get their hands on the trophy on Saturday, first and foremost a desire to reverse the result of twelve months ago. “Losing last year’s final has only increased our determination to get the job done this time,” Trim said. “The lads are really keen to show that we are not only the best over the course of the regular season, but can win a one-off game when it really counts.”
The method by which Football West determines who the State Champions are has been the topic of much debate in recent weeks. The Knights picked up the Minor Premiers tag for finishing top of the table after twenty-two home and away games, however, for the right to call themselves State Champions they must win a four week play-off series which culminates in Saturday’s Grand Final. “It’s very important that we win this game as it will leave no debate over who are the premiers, champions or whatever you want to call the best team in the State,” Trim said.
The Knights turned in one of their best team performances of the season when they defeated Perth 2-0 just a fortnight ago in the semi-final round. “It was a solid performance across the park. We certainly had more of the play and dominated possession,” commented Trim. “Everyone gave 110% and that showed in the work rate right through to the final whistle. There was a lot of talk about the condition of the pitch, however, it was the same for both teams … who knows, maybe on a flat pitch we would have won by more!”
A combination of work commitment and injury limited Trim to just thirteen league appearances this year. “I only really played the second half of the season as work commitments have taken priority,” he said. “This has also affected my fitness levels and hence I only really run around as a forward these days. I had a decent run in the second round and knocked in a handful of goals before being forced out due to back related hamstring/adductor issues. Having said that, if you’re not scoring goals in our team, you won’t be there for long.”
Even though his last start was two months ago, Trim will be giving his all to force his way into coach Carl Medica’s first eleven. “I haven’t played much in the past month or so due to injury but I’ll be training hard this week to try and get a run on the weekend,” Trim said. “It’s hard to see the coaches changing too much from the side that beat Perth so well two weeks ago. They will pick the best eleven and there will be others on the bench who will do just as well if given the chance. The squad is really buzzing at the moment and we can’t wait for the weekend.”
Motivation is not something that’s lacking in the Knights camp leading into this weekend’s Grand Final. “We’ve finished on top of the table after 22 rounds, beaten Perth in the Major Semi-Final and now we have to beat them again to be undisputed champions to get any recognition. That’s our task, and more than enough motivation,” said Trim, who feels the game will be decided in the second half. “I think the game itself will be tight to start with but will open up in the second half. It will come down to whoever wants it more - and believe me, we want it.”
JOONDALUP ARE ON THE RISE
It appears the only way is up for ECU Joondalup after their most successful season in recent memory. Joondalup finished the home and away series in fifth place to qualify for the finals for the first time in six years, something coach Syd Amphlett is pleased as punch about. “To reach the finals was a great achievement. The players had a great attitude and we did think we could have gone further in the finals series as confidence was high but it was not to be,” said Amphlett.
A big part of Joondalup’s success was their three-man attack of Jamie Watts, Phil O’Callgahan and John Thornley. “I’ve said from the start of the season that we had the best three strikers in the league and that was proved with Joondalup being the top scorers in the league,” said Amphlett. “The only problem was we also conceded the most, but saying that I thought Charlie Comyn-Platt was outstanding and Chris Whylie proved a very good signing for us.”
There were many outstanding performances across 2010 by Joondalup with their coach singling out two games in particular. “Coming back from 3-1 down to beat Sorrento typified the never-say-die attitude the players have got,” commented Amphlett, who said his team really hit their straps on the final day of the regular season. “Our best performance of the season was the 5-1 away win at Floreat Athena where everything we asked just came right on the day.”
Joondalup are renown for unearthing young talent and this season was no different with two of their players picked up by Perth Glory Youth. “Luke Johnson and Brandon O’Neill both impressed and played first team football,” commented Amphlett, who feels there are a few more ‘up and comers’ with the potential to also go to the next level. “We now have Josh Brooks and Jonathan Stynes knocking on the first team door while Lee Thomson has impressed me in the under-18’s.”
Like any good coach, Amphlett is always looking for ways to improve his team and has already begun planning for next season. “We are always looking to sign quality players,” the coach said. “We would like to strengthen the right side as this was a problem last year, especially with Garin Collins leaving and Ryan McDarby going to UK. We have a list of players we would like to sign and add to what we already have. Its just as important to keep the players we already have as I am sure a few will be on other clubs’ radars.”
Amphlett has also stabilised his off-field team with Andy Petterson, who counts Charlton Athletic and Portsmouth among his former clubs, confirming as the goalkeeping coach. “Andy Petterson is now part of the first team coaching team and Andy Banks will step up to regular first team ‘keeper,” said Amphlett, who says stability is the key to an improved 2011. “We have kept the nucleus of players and coaches for last two years and want to keep progressing on that. We now have stability in the club and everyone seems to be enjoying it more.”
MCBRIDE IS GOSNELLS’ NUMBER ONE
Sweeper Adrian McBride has celebrated his first season with Gosnells City by taking out the clubs top individual award, the Fairest and Best. McBride, 25, was a key ingredient in Gosnells' back three with his ability to read play and distribution vital to his clubs' fortunes. The Players' Player of the Year was a fitting reward for Dane McBride's work between the posts, while the efforts of promising young defender Daiten Twyman were recognised with the Coaches Award.
Holding midfielder Chris McGrath dominated the Reserve team awards by going home with trophies as Fairest and Best along with Players' Player of the Year. Aiden Gustavino ability to fill a number of roles across the winter months led to him being presented the Coaches Award. The Youth team Fairest and Best was presented to Andrew Marshall. Adriano D'Alo picked up the Players' Player of the Year, and striker Kieron Peters the Coaches Award.
GOAL GLUT HAS MITCHELL LOOKING FOR ANSWERS
He may not be reaching for the panic button but Perth Glory coach David Mitchell knows it is time for solutions in the wake of the A-League club's third successive defeat. Glory's failure to score in those three games has highlighted an attacking deficiency which Mitchell admits he is still searching for the answer to. "In different games you need different structures," Mitchell said. "The right partnership, the right combination is still what we are looking for. We've got a few options and it's just about picking the right one."
Glory have tried various attacking combinations involving star signing Robbie Fowler, Mile Sterjovski, Michael Baird and Branko Jelic with varying degrees of success. "We haven't had a problem scoring goals until the last three weeks and that's disappointing. But we have been creating chances," said Mitchell, who is adamant the weekend performance against Adelaide United was an improvement on lacklustre efforts against Gold Coast United and Newcastle Jets. Fowler and Baird were denied early against Adelaide by Eugene Galekovic before the Reds seized control and Sergio Van Dijk’s scored twice.
Mitchell denied his players were starting to feel the psychological pinch of three successive defeats, which came after Glory's best start to an A-League season. Glory were riding high at the top of the table with three wins and two draws from their first five matches before slumping to a trio of losses. "The players have taken confidence from that performance (against Adelaide)," Mitchell said. "But we are all realists and losing three in a row is not good. But we don't just look at the results."
A better and more effective performance will be required on Sunday against Brisbane, who mashed Melbourne Heart 4-0 on the weekend. "Brisbane are on fire and it's another tough game," Mitchell said. "The A-League is not easy and there's not much between the teams. "We've got a big game on Sunday and I hope the crowd will get behind the team." Jamie Coyne will be suspended for the Brisbane after being send off against Adelaide, however, young defender Scott Neville returns from international duty with the Australia under-23 team.
GARCIA MAKES THE CUT
Hull City attacker Richard Garcia will get the opportunity to make his claim to an Asian Cup spot after being selected in the Socceroos squad for next months friendly with Paraguay. Garcia, who has played eleven times for Australia since debuting in August 2008, was amongst 19-players today named by coach Holger Osieck for the Paraguay game on 9 October. Osieck has shown his faith in the A-League by including Alex Brosque, Matt McKay, Eugene Galekovic, Jade North, Michael Thwaite and Jason Culina is his squad.
The Australia squad to play Paraguay on 9 October is Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United), Jon McKain (Al Nassr), David Carney (Blackpool), Matthew McKay (Brisbane Roar), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow), Tim Cahill (Everton), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Harry Kewell, Lucas Neill (Galatasaray), Mile Jedinak (Genclerbirligi), Jason Culina, Michael Thwaite (Gold Coast United), Richard Garcia (Hull City), Scott McDonald (Middlesbrough), Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus), Dario Vidosic (Nurnberg), Carl Valeri (Sassuolo Calcio), Alex Brosque (Sydney FC) and Jade North (Wellington Phoenix).
A-LEAGUE TRAVELLING A ROCKY ROAD
The fledgling A-League is floundering amid dwindling crowds and rising debts. Born out of the ashes of the ethnically-aligned National Soccer League with great fanfare in 2005, the A-League is beset with problems in its sixth season with one club, Newcastle Jets, saved at the 11th hour from going under just seven weeks into the new season.
Attendances are taking a hit with reigning champions Sydney FC, who are winless after seven games, failing to attract five-figure gates at their last two home games. Gold Coast United have suffered the indignity of playing before crowds of around 2,000 at their last two home games, raising speculation whether they will survive the season.
Newcastle Jets remain in the league only because of Football Federation Australia intervention. FFA withdrew the ownership license of Con Constantine after he was no longer providing the funds to pay players or the club's operating costs. Mining magnate Nathan Tinkler has since taken over ownership until at least the end of the season.
Clubs are bleeding money across the board. A combined $25 million was lost last season when FFA was forced into ownership of Adelaide United and first year club North Queensland Fury. Melbourne Heart, who were added to the A-League this season, have made only a modest impact with home crowds of just over 5,000.
Supporters of the A-League point to the history of other newly-formed professional leagues around the world and their teething problems before their competitions became financially viable. Japan, South Korea, China and the United States have all had the same experience, but they are now robust leagues as their long-term strategies took hold.
So the intervening years will be tough ones for the A-League as it looks to establish itself in the saturated Australian sports market. It will be another three years before a new television deal comes into force and its accompanying cash injection, so it will simply be a case of survival.
REFEREES TO EXPERIENCE ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
World Cup referee Eddie Lennie will lead a group of six West Australian match officials on a self-funded eleven-day development tour of England in November. Referees Mathew Cheeseman, Josh Mihevc, Tim Mihevc and Trent Fleskens along with coaches Frank Moretti and Lennie will undertake an extensive program that includes high intensity fitness training, mental preparation, skill development and performance analysis at the invitation of the English Football Association.
Lennie was excited at the opportunity for the selected participants. “The young officials selected for this tour are all currently officiating in the A-League and National Youth League, and it will provide them with development opportunities that have never been offered before,” said Lennie. “It is anticipated that this pilot tour will be expanded in years to come to allow more referees from Perth and other states to experience the commitment, development and professionalism of refereeing at the highest level.”
The F.A. are world leaders in the education and development of players, coaches, match officials and spectators. Their successful Respect campaign aims to increase awareness and respect for all participants and their role in the game, which Football West has embraced by introducing a similar campaign here in Western Australia. The knowledge gained by the touring party will be used when they return for mentoring young referees in Football West competitions and affiliated regional leagues.
WILLIAMS GOING BACK TO BORO
Socceroo Rhys Williams will be on his way back to Middlesbrough in the next fortnight to resume his recovery from a crippling long-term pelvic injury. Williams, 22, missed the 2010 World Cup due to the pelvic problem and has since been receiving expert care from Adelaide-based physiotherapist Anthony Hogan. Middlesbrough recently announced Williams will continue his rehabilitation back at the club's training headquarters of Rockliffe Park from 11 October.
COACH PLEASED WITH OLYROOS INITIAL HIT-OUTS
Australia placed third at the Four Nations Tournament which wound up on Friday night in Hanoi, Vietnam. There were "plenty of positives" for Aurelio Vidmar as the coach begins piecing together his squad for next years Olympic Games qualifiers. "Considering this is the first time we have been together as a group, it has been a very successful ten days with plenty of positives," Vidmar said. DPR Korea won the tournament with host nation Vietnam pipping Australia for second by goal difference. Western Australia was represented by Perth Glory's home grown defender Scott Neville, who started all three of Australia's games.
The Olyroos suffered a narrow 1-0 loss to DPR Korea in hot and steamy conditions on Monday. The only goal arrived after 16 minutes when Park Song Chol's free-kick, awarded for a foul by Neville, snuck inside the upright past diving goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne. Australia had their chances to equalise, Chris Payne hit the outside of the post and Diogo Ferreira head just wide. Australia dominated second half possession and although they created numerous goal scoring opportunities were unable to find the back of the net. Neville full game and was booked for his 16th minute foul.
First half goals to Jason Hoffman and Tahj Minniecon earned Australia a 2-0 win over Vietnam. The Olyroos started at a frenetic pace and on 19 minutes Minniecon dribbled around two defenders before passing to Nichols who set-up Hoffman to slot into the net. The margin was increased in the 36th minute when Nichols' long clearance paved the way for Minniecon to race away and beat the goalkeeper in a one-on-one. The tempo quickened for the second half as Vietnam sought to reel in the gap, however, Australia held out to record a deserved victory. Neville was replaced after 66 minutes.
The Olyroos finished in third place after playing our a scoreless draw with Kuwait in the final match of the tournament on Friday night. Australia put aside a slow start in the 12th minutes when Mirjan Pavlovic set-up James Brown whose shot forced the Kuwaiti goalkeeper into a desperate save. Pavlovic had a chance himself just before the half-hour mark, but the Kuwaiti 'keeper produced another great diving save. The second half possession was dominated by the Olyroos but an inability to finish their chances saw the points shared. Neville played the full game.
THE FINAL NAIL? (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show)
The whole idea behind the State League finals series is to give the local game a focal point at the end of the season. Having attended the Preliminary Final between Perth SC and Stirling Lions I was surprised to read in the match day program that the biggest game of the season will be played at Inglewood's 6PR Stadium, with a kick-off time of 1.30pm. Apparently the State Leagues biggest day has been relegated to the curtain-raiser for a Perth Glory Youth team game. Playing the Grand Final as a curtain raiser to a youth team game is unbelievable - it devalues the season finale and also fails to benefit the game at all.
There now is talk that the replayed AFL Grand Final could have a detrimental affect on the crowd at the State League Grand Final on Saturday. After the AFL game yesterday, Football West chief executive Peter Hugg should have been onto his counterpart at Perth Glory, Paul Kelly, to negotiate that the State League Grand Final be moved to the curtain-raiser for the Perth Glory game against Brisbane Roar on Sunday. Now had that been arranged that would have benefitted the game for both the State League and also Perth Glory. With a week to go, hopefully, the powers that be will talk, negotiate and make decisions that benefit the game.
PERTH SHOW WHO THE MASTERS ARE
Perth SC moved into next weekend's season finale with a resounding 4-1 victory against Stirling Lions this afternoon at Dorrien Gardens. First half goals from Antonio Naglieri and David Onoforo set Perth on their way with Andreas Oliveira and Ian McMurray netting after the turnaround, with substitute Ndumba Makeche snaring Stirling a consolation. Perth and Western Knights will slug it out next weekend in the Grand Final at 6PR Stadium to be crowned State Champions of 2010.
Graham Normanton was delighted with how his team responded to their recent semi-final loss at the hands of the Knights. "After the disappointment of last week I thought passed the ball around really well, and the performance of the side today was outstanding," the Perth coach said. "We gambled on the fitness of Robbie Puca and it paid off, he was the best on the ground. He only trained last week after a hamstring problem but he's the club captain and he led by example today."
A lively opening had Stirling go close after just a couple of minutes, Stef Frost chesting the ball down with Mario Marcinko rifling over the crossbar. Craig Simpson had the home crowd on their feet by heading in a Hayden Doyle corner, however, it was not allowed to stand as referee Steven Gregory had spotted an infringement. McMurray had a goal bound flick cleared off the line by an alert Jason Gavin, then Devon Spence saved low from Scott Muirhead at the other end of the park.
Perth had by this stage established control with Doyle and Dom De Felice quick to get forward down the flanks as Oliveira menaced coming out of midfield. It was inevitable that the home side would score first and on 21 minutes that's exactly what happened with a spectacular Antonio Naglieri free-kick finding the top corner from an acute angle wide on the left. Genuine chances on goal were hard to come by for Stirling with lone striker Marcinko often out-manoeuvred by a three-man defence under the command of Shaun Kilkelly.
Puca and Naglieri had the upper hand in midfield as Perth patiently moved the ball from one side of the park to the other in search of an opening. In the 37th minute Dom De Felice put the ball with McMurray but as he attempted to work space the big strikers' legs were taken from under him by Gavin, leaving referee Gregory no option but to award a penalty. This wasn't an opportunity Onoforo was going to waste and the striker doubled Perth's lead by sending James Turvill the wrong way from the spot.
Only Bobby Wilson's last gaps tackle prevented Oliviera getting off a shot three minutes into the second half. As it was Perth would need only a further three minutes before Oliviera forced his way in between Gavin and Michael Pugliese to put away goal number three from 5-metres after Turvill did well in blocking successive shots from the lively striker and McMurray. Stirling gained themselves a lifeline on 63 minutes when Makeche stuck out a boot to deflect in Gavin's low centre at close-range.
Four minutes later McMurray slid in Perth's fourth, ending all hopes of a Stirling revival, after De Felice's angled drive was too hot for Turvill to hold. Stirling's afternoon was best summed up when Makeche shot straight at Spence when the better option would have been to pass to an unmarked Phil Arnold. But there'd be no let up from Perth and Onoforo should have scored another while substitute Josh Pereira fired narrowly past the post with a low attempt in stoppage time.
GLORY SEE RED IN ADELAIDE
Perth Glory slumped to a third successive loss when out-gunned 2-0 by Adelaide United last night at Hindmarsh Stadium. The game decided midway though the second half by Sergio Vn Dijk’s double, after which Glory went down a man with the dismissal of Jamie Coyne for a second yellow card. Even those Glory dominated the closing stages Jamie Harnwell, who celebrated his 242nd appearance for the club, was left to rue what might have been. “Things just don’t seem to be going in for us at the moment,” said the defender. “It’s disappointing. The lads worked hard and did all they could but just couldn’t do it in the front third.”
It may have been scoreless at the break but there was no shortage of thrills in a fantastic first half. Only a few minutes were on the clock when Eugene Galekovic palmed to safety a lofted shot from 20-metes by Robbie Fowler. Soon after Michael Baird went sent through with only the goalkeeper to beat but again Galekovic brilliantly turned the shot away. Matthew Leckie and Marcos Flores began to make their mark on the game in Adelaide’s front third but wayward passing denied them more scoring opportunities. Tando Velaphi was scrambling to push away Lucas Pantelis’ shot on the run, and in stoppage time Leckie’s powerful effort from 25-metres was parried by Glory custodian.
The second half opened tamely and it took until the 70th minute for it to come back to life. An innocuous throw-in from the left found Joe Keenan who swung in a brilliant ball that Van Dijk sent into the back of the net with a terrific angled header. The game was ended as a contest three minutes later when Van Dijk converted a penalty awarded for Velaphi’s foul on Pantelis. Matters took a further turn for the worse for Glory with Coyne issued his second yellow card on 75minutes. Glory did all they could to reduce the gap but substitute Anthony Skorich headed high, and in stoppage time referee Matthew Breeze turned away penalty appeals after Steve McGarry was impeded in his attempt to nod in a cross.
MITCHELL UPBEAT DESPITE TRIO OF LOSSES
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell insists it is not crisis time for his club despite suffering their third consecutive defeat with last night’s loss at Adelaide United. Glory started the season superbly, collecting eleven points from their first five matches, before defeats to Gold Coast United, Newcastle Jets and Adelaide. “The performance was good and it could’ve gone the other way,” Mitchell said of the loss to top of the table Adelaide. “I’m not too disappointed with that … Adelaide are a very good side, well organised and can cause you a lot of problems and I think we coped with it well.”
Two superb saves by Adelaide shot-stopper Eugene Galekovic denied Glory taking a half-time lead. “I think he’s the best ‘keeper in the league and he’s made two world-class saves and kept them in the game at that point,” he said. “I thought in the second half we played well, we were containing Adelaide, there wasn’t too many problems and it was going to be a very interesting finish. Then it was probably a bit of sloppy defending by us, a cross has come in and the player’s got the header in and it’s looped over Tando (Velaphi) and gone in. Then you’re chasing the game and then the penalty decision, 2-0 … It was a little bit unfortunate the way things panned out tonight, it could've gone either way.”
GLORY YOUTH EXTEND PERFECT START
Perth Glory Youth have made it two wins from as many starts by downing Adelaide United 2-1 at Hindmarsh Stadium last night. Goals either side of the break by Cameron Edwards were enough for Glory Youth to claim their second away win of the new National Youth League campaign. Francesco Monterosso had a good chance to put Adelaide in front but Tom Doyle saved his shot from 9-metres. Two minutes later Edwards capped a slick move by swivelling on top of the 18-yard box and firing into the bottom corner past the outstretched arm of Nicholas Munro.
Going ahead allowed Glory Youth to take control and through the drive of Ryan Pearson and Sebit Oyet they heaped pressure on the home defence. Adelaide slowly grew in confidence after fighting their wayback into the game around the half hour mark. Kym Harris blasted over the bar from close-range before Evan Kostopoulos and Joe Costa also squandered guilt-edged chances. Harris was then bundled over inside the box leading the referee to point to the spot from where Adelaide captain Matthew Mullen coolly fired past Doyle to level the game.
Monterosso and Harris has opportunities to put Adelaide in front midway through the second half, however, neither striker was able to apply the finishing touch on some quick counterattacks. Substitute Sahr Musa stamped his authority on the match and caused the home side plenty of problems as he led Glory into attack down the right. Edwards bagged his second goal in the 67th minute when Musa’s cross found him unmarked at the back post to nod in the deciding goal. There were further chances created by both teams but strong defending ensure the game would remain at two-nil.
PERTH OR STIRLING – WHO WILL IT BE?
Dorrien Gardens is the place to be on Sunday when Perth SC and Stirling Lions go at each other in a make-or-break Preliminary Final. The winner will advance to next weekend's Grand Final where they face Western Knights, who booked their place by defeating Perth 2-0 last time out. Stirling needed a penalty shoot-out to get past Floreat Athena after their semi-final was deadlocked at one-each after 120 minutes, and all indications are that weekend's game is going to be just as close.
Sunday provides Perth an opportunity to atone for their loss to the Knights. "We were all disappointed to lose to the Knights in a hard-fought game," said assistant coach John Coyne. "The pitch at Nash Field was not conducive to good football, but it was the same for both sides and there was a bit of rivalry thrown in with the last goal. Monty (Stuart Montgomery) - as the video showed - was clearly offside in the build-up, but that's football and by then the Knights were already one-nil up. They're a good team - and we would like another crack at them."
There's nothing but confidence coming from the Stirling camp following last week's win against Floreat. "We showed a lot of character against Floreat," said assistant coach Ian Cowen. "We have a quality bunch of lads at Stirling. Jason Gavin, Bobby Wilson, Michael Pugliese, Paul Dickson and Scott Muirhead can normally withstand any amount of pressure and young James Turvill has improved in leaps and bounds to become a quality 'keeper. It then comes down to the rest of the midfield led by skipper Shane Robinson and the strikers to do their business."
Perth conceded a couple of early goals the last time they met Stirling, which was only a fortnight ago, but recovered to register a 3-2 win when David Onoforo scored a late winner from the penalty spot. "To be playing against Stirling again this week shows how the top five works, and I'm sure both teams will be looking forward to it," Coyne commented. "I believe we can win the big one, to do that all the players have to stand up this week to give us that opportunity. Whoever we put out on Sunday will give a good account of themselves."
Cowen sees no reason why his team can't edge out Perth and qualify for the season finale. "I'm always confident we can beat any opposition, we just have to do the right things on the day - defend well, work hard in the midfield and finish the chances we create," Cowen said. "Perth is a quality side and if we don't do these things we will be punished as we were two weeks ago. We have to set up with the correct formation to combat what happened and make sure we finish our chances." Perth and Stirling lock horns from 3.00pm on Sunday at Dorrien Gardens.
GOODMAN IN LIMBO AFTER SWAN CHANGE TACT
Jamie Goodman is still coming to terms with being dumped as coach of relegated Swan United. Goodman was informed late last week that he would not be re-appointed to the position of first team coach, but that he was welcome to remain on with the club as assistant to John O'Reilly, who steps up from coaching the Reserve team. "I'm disappointed that I had not been re-appointed," he said. "I had a meeting with the club and John last week and am still getting my head around it, being offered the assistant's role was not a scenario I'd considered … I've since advised the club I will be moving on."
Paul Lincoln's move to Stirling Lions three games into the season opened the door for Goodman to take the helm at Swan. The club cited Goodman's defensive approach as he attempted to stablise an unsteady Swan ship as the main reason for his axing. "The reasons sighted were that I played too defensive for too long during the middle part of the season and that I had played certain players out of position," he said. "Obviously when a club gets relegated the club have to look at a few things, which I understand. As a coach you are judged on your results, if we had won on the last day things may have been different."
2010 was something of a 'Jekyll and Hyde' season for Swan who did well on the road but struggled on their own turf. "It was a funny season. We were a top five side away from home, made the Cup semi-finals, won the Spring in the Valley Cup by beating Perth SC and had one of the best defences in the league," said Goodman. "On the flip side we failed to win a game at home and were the lowest scorers in the league. We only managed to get five points in the first seven games and, ultimately, were scrapping at the bottom of the table from that point on."
Those first seven games, from which Swan collected only five points, effectively sealed the black and whites' fate. "The main reason we were relegated was due to the first seven weeks of the season," commented Goodman. "We suffered some heavy defeats in the pre-season and there were a lot of disruptions, club captain Brendon Knox needed a hernia operation after the second game and we had a few key injuries, like Tom Shepheard, early on. We didn't score enough goals, that wasn't due to a lack of chances but every team needs a bit of luck and we didn't have much of it all year."
Goodman feels Swan's position on the bottom of the pile does not reflect fairly on their ability. "I don't think we were the weakest team in the league. I though we had a good young team with weaknesses," he said. "The team lacked experience a goal scorer and a left-sided player for balance. Our defence was strong and we had some of the best young midfielders in the league. Early season injuries tested our depth but the signing of Rory Mouttet, Mick Van Dongen and Stuart Long added to the experience levels and our results improved accordingly."
If they can told onto the core of the squad, Goodman says Swan will be back into the top flight within a few years. "The current squad has a lot of depth and potential and if we had stayed up that that squad would progress to a top five outfit in the next two years," he said. "I would like to think that the core group of players will remain next season. There are some very loyal players at the club. But it is early days and other clubs will be looking at some of them. It is the clubs' ambition to get straight back up and there is enough quality there to do that."
Goodman won't be rushing into making any decisions as to where he'll be next season. "I need a few weeks to consider what lies ahead for me. Ultimately, I'm ambitious and want to be a senior coach at the highest level I can, and work with and develop good players," said Goodman, who coached Inglewood United's Reserves with great success before spells with Morley Windmills and Swan. "Apart from Inglewood I've not had the opportunity to coach a team from the beginning of a season. I've stepped into the other roles during the season and it's difficult to get teams playing the way you would like."
PERTH YOUTH READY TO BATTLE THE REDS (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory Youth will look to take back-to-back wins as they battle Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium this evening. Rising talent Josh Risdon expects the game to be just as close as last seasons semi-final, when Glory triumphed 1-0. "They (Adelaide) should be strong, they always are, but we're all feeling pretty confident and looking forward to a good game," he said. "We've had some pretty close encounters with them last year, especially at their home ground. Both games we played there were decided by two late goals; we won the first one and they won the second one and the semi-final was close as well."
Risdon was one of his teams best players in last weeks 5-0 season opening win at Melbourne Victory. He said the first up win was great for the newer members of the team and hopes it's a sign of more winning performances to come. "It was good to get out there last week and start the season and we all played really well," commented Risdon, scorer of Glory Youth's final goal. "There's a good bunch of lads in the youth team and we all worked really hard together and came home with the points."
Risdon became the first player at Perth Glory to benefit from a new FFA ruling that allows up to three registered youth league players to be signed on professional contracts. This means that while Risdon will remain on the youth team roster, he trains full-time with the senior squad and will be considered an additional first team player. "It's really good to be with all the older and more experienced players," he said. "They've all helped me to fit in and I'm really excited to hopefully start playing with them as well."
HARNWELL COULD PLAY 300 GAMES: DESPOTOVSKI
Perth Glory great Bobby Despotovski will see his club appearance record passed tomorrow and reckons Jamie Harnwell will go on to a mark that will never be beaten. When Harnwell, 33, runs out for Glory against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium it will be his 242nd match for his hometown club, surpassing Despotovski who accumulated 241 Glory appearances in a stellar career. "If you want anyone to beat that record it's Jamie," Despotovski told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "He achieved everything he has because he believed in himself and gave everything every time he stepped out on the park."
Injuries hit Harnwell hard last season and there was a time when he wondered if he would be able to return to the A-League before making a telling contribution late in the campaign. "There's going to come a time when I have to pull the pin, whether it's forced on me or I make that decision myself," he said. "For the time being I can't see myself doing anything else. I love playing, I love training and while I'm still able to do some kind of job on the park then I'll stay around. "It's a pretty special feeling, to go past Bobby, who is a very good friend of mine, and an absolute legend of the club."
Despotovski's games tally heads a list that also includes retired stars Scott Miller (227 games), Jason Petkovic (177) and Gareth Naven (143). Defender Jamie Coyne, 29, will make his 137th appearance against Adelaide, and is the only current player likely to get anywhere near Harnwell. "Jamie (Harnwell) has probably got more than 20 games in him this season and maybe if he signs next year he's going to reach 300," Despotovski said. "Who knows? He could be the first Glory player to reach 300 games. If he's healthy, why not? I can't see anyone breaking his record."
Harnwell starred on the local scene for Sorrento before being picked up by coach Bernd Stange on the eve of the 1998/99 season. The big defender made his Glory debut away to Brisbane Strikers in October 1998 and still has vivid memories of the experience. "I still remember sitting with Paul Strudwick after my first game and cracking open a XXXX in the change rooms," he said. "Things have changed a lot since then. The people have changed, the place has changed and I think it needed to and I'm glad it has. But you lose a bit of the romance of what it was like."
JONES STUNNED AS LIVERPOOL CRASH
Brad Jones will much rather forget his debut outing for Liverpool after they were sent tumbling out of the League Cup by lowly Northampton Town overnight. Jones had been limited to watching from the bench before being promoted to the starting line-up by manager Roy Hodgson. Unfortunately, Hodgson’s decision to field an experimental line-up backfired with Northampton, a team languishing near the bottom of the fourth tier of English football, triumphing 4-2 on penalties after the game was deadlocked at 2-2 after extra-time.
RESERVES WIN A “FANTASTIC RESULT” FOR PERTH: LENZO
The runaway success of Perth SC's Reserve team will keep the club at the top of the State League pecking order. Perth wrapped up the Reserve Premier League trophy before well final round of the season, ending thirteen points clear of joint runners-up Stirling Lions and Swan United. "It's a fantastic achievement for the players in the reserves to win the league, especially in such a comprehensive manner," said coach Basil Lenzo. "It really assists the club in setting a foundation for the future of the league team."
The attractive, attacking brand of football played by Perth's Reserves along with their desire to learn and better themselves, was pleasing to Lenzo. "We worked hard on individual skills and tactically as well," the coach said. "It is a pleasure to work at Perth with the boys as they are a very committed group of young lads that listen and respect what we were saying and applied what we did on game day. And the fact our opposition commented on the type of football we played was a real testament to the boys."
The open lines of communication between Perth's entire coaching team have contributed to the Reserves success. "The reserves are a 'squeeze box' with players going up and going down to assist with the first team and 18's," explained Lenzo. "I'm working with three experienced coaches - Graham Normanton, John Coyne and Aldo Trinca - and although at times it is very challenging, we tend to communicate well enough to understand exactly who is needed (for each team) and when."
Another of the challenges Lenzo has had to overcome is keeping focused a small number of players on the training track. "The most trying time is motivating a limited number at training because we have players over with the first team." he said. "Also, the challenge now days is managing players expectations as they all believe they can play first team. To help us manage this we have three reviews a year to ensure everyone understands how they are tracking against their personal goals."
Lenzo expects to see many of his squad playing regularly at first team level in coming seasons. "Josh Perriera is a future star. He's only 17 and is a little terrier with excellent skills, vision and passing," said Lenzo. "Then there's a nice little group working hard in the background - Daniel Colletta, Vlad Naumovski, Chris Rizidis, Jason Saldaris, Luke Martino, Rhys Loxley, Nathan Rawes, Alan Darlington as well as Jason Pottier ... the future does continue to look bright for Perth."
Football legend Gary Marocchi will be recognised with the best player in the State League Grand Final walking away with the inaugural Gary Marocchi Medal. Marocchi was selected after consultation with the State League Standing Committee and the WA Hall of Fame. “It’s an honour to have my name associated with the medal and I am pleased that Football West thought of me,” Marocchi said. “I was stoked as soon as I got the call and my family are very proud. I guess in a way it’s reward for being associated with the game we all love.”
Marocchi is one of the true icons of West Australian football. He played 117 national league games for Adelaide City over six seasons and represented Australia on 13 occasions, two as captain of the Socceroos. On the local scene he played twelve seasons at Perth Azzurri and one with Inglewood United, and wore State team colours 22 times. Upon retirement, Marocchi turned his hand to coaching with Perth Italia before guiding Perth Kangaroos to the S-League title without defeat in 1994. Two years later he was appointed inaugural coach of Perth Glory, leading the club for two seasons, and later coached at Swan IC.
ANOTHER EDWARDS FOR AUSTRALIA
Ryan Edwards has continued the family tradition of being selected to play for Australia. Edwards inclusion in the Young Socceroos squad for next month's AFC Under-19 Championship has the midfielder following in the footsteps of his father, former Socceroos striker Alistair, and elder sibling, Cameron who has also represented the nation at youth level. "To follow in my brother and dads footsteps is great," he said. "Knowing my dad has been through this process and has achieved what we are trying to do is a drive for me to succeed and go further."
Edwards, 16, feels privileged to be called up for Australia at such a young age. "It is an amazing honour and privilege to be selected to represent your country and I am so thrilled to have this opportunity so early in my career," said Edwards, who played for Cockburn City and Perth Glory Youth prior to entering the Australian Institute of Sport at the beginning of the year. "I'm two, almost three years younger than most in this squad so I'm surprised and excited for what's to come … One day I hope I can line up next to my brother in the Socceroos - that would be fantastic."
Life in Canberra has been good for Edwards. "I'm really enjoying my time at the AIS, it's a great opportunity. I feel myself getting better every day, both as a person and footballer," he said. "I'm playing with and against the best young footballers in Australia and receiving quality training with the coaching staff. The facilities here are quality, we are training every day and have access to massage, physio, recovery etc. Everything is here for you at the AIS and the opportunity is there for the taking, and I'm doing that."
PETKOVIC FINALLY FINDING HIS FEET
Michael Petkovic is confident three clean sheets in a row have put an end to Melbourne Victory's defensive woes. Petkovic, a former star of the National Soccer League with South Melbourne, endured a torrid start to life in the A-League, conceding seven goals as Victory went winless in their opening three games of the season. "We had some teething problems at the start, but we've hopefully sorted them out and in the last few games we've been looking a lot better," Petkovic said. "Three clean sheets in a row is a good feeling for me personally, but at the end of the day winning three points means more than keeping a clean sheet."
Petkovic, 33, is used to the scrutiny that comes with the number one jersey. "As a goalkeeper, any goal you concede you are going to cop some criticism, because you are the last line of defence," he said. "In any position it's difficult for a new player to come in and for the goalkeeper, no matter what team you play for or what style you play, at the end of the day you've got to stop the goals. You could say it took me a while to adjust to the style that Ernie (Merrick) sets out the team to play but I'm getting used to my team-mates and hopefully in the last few weeks we've started to gel and get to know each other better."
Victory have got their season back on track with a 3-0 win over Brisbane Roar followed by consecutive goalless draws with Wellington Phoenix and North Queensland Fury. Next up for Petkovic is a trip to financially-stricken Newcastle Jets, whose immediate future has been secured by the intervention of mining magnate Nathan Tinkler. "They had a good result last week and I've heard that they've got a new owner, so they may come out firing," Petkovic said. "It'll be a tough game for us, coming after three games in one week, but we've been training well this week and we've had a long week to recover so we'll be going there looking to win three points."
PRESIDENT BACKS MAGUIRE TO LEAD GOSNELLS
Suggestions Gosnells City are about to part company with first team coach Tony Maguire have been quickly dismissed by club president Tony Pritchard. Maguire guided Gosnells to fifth this season, their best finish in over a decade, and will be given the opportunity to take the club higher in 2011. "As far as I and the club committee is concerned Tony has done a fantastic job this year and will be our head coach in 2011," said Pritchard. "Tony will be looking to bring in a new first team assistant for next season, and there are possibly some changes to the reserves and under-18s depending on the availability of the current coaches."
Gosnells have gone from strength-to-strength in recent years on the back of a stable playing roster, something Pritchard expects to continue into next season. "We want to retain all our current players and to bring in the couple that we need to progress us above fifth spot," said the Gosnells president. "We have young 18's and reserves squads and want to give these lads every opportunity to play at first team level for Gosnells so the total squad size for the three teams will be kept to around 40 players."
Pritchard says one the keys to his clubs steady rise up the Division One table is a tight knit squad founded on mateship. "Gosnells always promotes a team unity and encourages the social aspect of the game amongst the players," he commented. "Our current playing group are a very tight knit community of mates, which is the way we like it. We try and find players with a like-minded attitude towards the game which is training and playing hard, a willingness to improve their technical abilities and being part of an easy social environment off the pitch."
RUKAVYTSYA OPENS HERTHA ACCOUNT
Nikita Rukavytsya grabbed his first goal for Hertha Berlin in last night’s 4-0 mauling of Karlsruhe SC. Rukavytsya, who has started all five league games for Hertha this season, struck a lovely goal in the 23rd minute to put his team two-nil up after Gustavo Ramos opened the scoring in the 1st minute. Valeri Domovchiyski made sue to victory by netting early in the second half with Raffael rubbing salt into the wound late in the piece. The result puts Hertha level with Energie Cottbus at the top of the 2 Bundesliga table.
PEARSON'S STAR CONTINUES TO RISE
For Alex Pearson there is no greater honour than playing for Australia. The Perth Glory Youth custodian can't wait for next months AFC Under-19 Championship to begin after being named in the Young Socceroos squad for the tournament this week. "It's such an amazing feeling knowing that you get to represent your family, friends and everyone back home on the world stage," Pearson said. "I never take a national team call-up for granted, be it for a three-day camp or the World Cup. It's always important that I'm at the best of my game to best do my country proud."
Pearson did his hopes of earning a professional contract no harm with a starring role between the posts for Perth Glory Youth last season. "It was a great year for me personally, and from a team point of view," he said. "It's always nice to have a successful season; it makes the job you have to do so much more enjoyable and last season was very enjoyable. It was a great experience to get to play in the final series and Grand Final, even though we couldn't manage to hold of Gold Coast it was still a priceless experience to have."
Working with former Manchester United academy goalkeeping coach Lee Bamber, and before him ex-State 'keeper Willie McNally, with the Glory youth team has allowed Pearson to take his game to the next level. "I feel my game has progressed dramatically in the last two or so years - Lee and Willie have been one of the reasons for that," he said. "It has been great working with Lee. There is always a good environment at training and it's always enjoyable, which is an added bonus."
Bamber says Pearson has all the makings of a professional footballer, albeit with a little more work. "The challenge for Alex this season is to be more consistent with his all-round performance," the coach said. "Alex is just like most of the 'keepers I work with, loves the hard work and is always keen to improve. After every game we'll discuss things he's done well and things he can do better. Then back at the training ground he'll want to go through the scenarios so he'll be better prepared for next time."
Pearson kept goal for Armadale last year and, should the opportunity arise again, would jump at the chance to do so again. "Unfortunately this year, due to Glory commitments, most of the boys were unable to play State League. But if I ever get the opportunity I would enjoy playing for Armadale again," he said. "The vibe I got from the club when I was there was so welcoming and the atmosphere that we got at the games was quality. It is a well run club and I wish the most success possible to everyone at the club because they truly deserve it, they're a great group of individuals."
NEVILLE MAKES AUSTRALIA DEBUT
Perth Glory defender Scott Neville is happy with his first outing in the colours of Australia. Neville battled oppressive heat to play a full game for the Olyroos who went down 1-0 to DPR (North) Korea in the opening game of an under-23 four nations tournament in Vietnam. “My first game went really well,” Neville said. “The conditions were very humid and really hot. I would have to say it was probably the most humid game I have ever played in, even more so than North Queensland Fury.”
Played in stifling 30 degree plus heat and 80% humidity, Australia were unlucky not to take something from the game which was decided by a curling Park Song Chol free-kick after 16 minutes. “I managed to get forward on many occasions, and we created a number of chances and should have won,” commented Neville, who laid on a good chance which Diogo Ferreira headed marginally wide of the target. “We played well and hit the crossbar twice but didn’t capitalize on our chances and they scored a good free-kick.”
MCNALLY FLIES AWAY WITH SWANS’ TOP AWARD
David McNally has added some gloss to his season by taking out the Fairest and Best player award at Swan United. “It’s a great honour to win the award,” said McNally, who finished ahead of Irish midfielder Darragh Kinnevey in counting. “I have been lucky with injuries this year and managed to play every game which helped me to stay fit and allowed me to keep working on my game. Most of all, I really enjoyed my football this year because of the good bunch of blokes I was playing alongside, which had a positive impact on my game.”
Out-going Swan coach Jamie Goodman rates McNally the best young defenders in the state. “Dave has had an excellent year, and has formed a formidable partnership with Rob Monterosso,” commented Goodman. “Dave has had some big jobs on some very good strikers and most of the year has come out on top. He is player that goes quietly about his business and makes very few mistakes. I have enjoyed watching him play and he has added a bit more aggression to his game this year. He is in my opinion the best young defender in the state.”
McNally, who came up through the youth ranks at Swan, was devastated with his club finishing at the bottom of the Premier League pile. “It was a tough season - from start to finish - for everyone involved in the club,” he said. “I don’t think it was ever going to be Swan’s year with the amount of bad luck that came our way. In the end, if we had scored one more goal we would have stayed up, but that’s football … Relegation is a hard pill to swallow but I’m confident that the club will bounce back and be playing Premier League football in no time.”
Several Premier League clubs have already inquired about McNally’s plans for next season. “I haven’t made a definite decision about what I’m going to do next year. I love Swan but I really want to keep challenging myself and working on my game, and I believe the only way I can do this is to continue playing in the Premier League,” McNally said. “On the other hand, it would also be a challenge to help Swan gain promotion next year. There is still a while until next season so I’m not going to rush into a decision straight away … I’ll just have to see what happens.”
DERBY BOSS EYES LOWRY
Derby County manager Nigel Clough has confirmed his interest in signing full-back Shane Lowry on loan from Aston Villa. Lowry, 21, signed a new two-year deal with Villa at the start of the season and was a member of the provisional Socceroos squad for this year’s World Cup. “He’s a lad that we have watched,” Clough told BBC Radio Derby. “He’s a left-sided player and a young lad who played against us for Plymouth last season.” Lowry is yet to play in the Premier League but has turned out for Villa in the Europa League and made an impression in loan spells with Plymouth and Leeds last season.
FEELY JOINS HOOPS
Teenage goalkeeper Nick Feely has joined Scottish giants Celtic on a one-year deal. Feely, 18, caught the eye during July trials with Celtic moving quickly to secure his signature amid interest from Fulham and Reading. "He has shown a lot of potential in the tournaments he has been in and has a good size about him," said Tommy McIntyre, Celtic's Head of Professional Academy. "We brought him in at the end of last season and had a look at him and then invited him over for pre-season. He came over for a period of time and then went back home. Obviously these things take a lot of time in which to get clearance and we just managed to get that in time."
Having joined his new team mates at the end of last month, Feely will now set about dislodging Robbie Thomson from between the posts in Celtic's youth team. "We are fortunate enough that we have two top goalkeepers at Under-19 level and it will be a good test between the two goalkeepers to get the number one jersey," added McIntyre. A product of Cockburn City's youth system, Feely represented Australia at the ASEAN Football Federation Under-19 Youth Championship in mid-2009 and was part of the Perth Glory Youth squad last summer.
BURNS HURTING AFTER FORM SLUMP
Perth Glory captain Jacob Burns took no part in training today but is determined to go toe-to-toe with table-topping Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday. Burns, who has heavy bruising on a shin, is more concerned with Glory's recent lethargy in losses to Gold Coast United and Newcastle Jets, which derailed the club's five-match unbeaten start. "We want to get out there, do the right things and put in a good performance," Burns said. "If we take a point or the three, fantastic, but we don't want to lose three on the trot, that's for sure."
Burns said it was impossible to identify the reasons for his teams two-game slump, although he noted Glory had not matched the crisis-hit Newcastle's intensity. "For whatever reason, we were lacklustre," he said. "If you don't approach each game with the right level of intensity, it will catch you off guard. We were disappointing against Gold Coast but to then roll over against Newcastle was hard to take ... Adelaide have been flying high early in the season and we know we have to be at our best to get anything out of this game."
After reaching top spot on the ladder early in the season, Glory have slipped to third, although a win on Friday would leave them just a point behind Adelaide. "We were fortunate a lot of other results went our way," Burns said. "Now we've got a great opportunity to put things right on Friday against Adelaide to put the pressure on. People were talking about our start after five games but it's a long season. Don't judge us on where we were in the first four or five games, and not where we are mid-season. Judge us on where we finish."
WA QUARTET IN YOUNG SOCCEROOS
Western Australians knack of producing quality footballers has been recognised with four locals gaining Young Socceroos selection for the upcoming AFC Under-19 Championship. Mark Birighitti and Eli Babalj, both former juniors of Perth SC, along with ex-Cockburn City pair Ryan Edwards and Alex Pearson were today named in coach Jan Versleijen’s twenty-three player squad for next months tournament in China. All four also spent time in Football West’s National Training Centre program.
Versleijen is confident his squad can achieve top four finish and gain automatic qualification for the 2011 FIFA Under-20 World Cup. “Playing in tournament football gives our players much needed international experience against high quality opposition and should we achieve our goal of qualifying for the Under-20 World Cup we will face even stronger opponents in Colombia,” said the coach. “We have great competition for final selection in each position on the field and I am confident that with the players we have we will do well in China.”
The Australia squad, which consists of eighteen players based in Australian and five from overseas clubs, assembles in Sydney tomorrow for a four-day training camp before heading to Hong Kong on Friday. The Young Socceroos campaign to progress out of Group D opens against Yemen (4 October) before they take on Iran (6 October) and Korea Republic (8 October). The knock-out stage commences on 11 October with the AFC Under-19 Championship Final scheduled for 17 October.
The Young Socceroos squad for the AFC Under-19 Championship is Mark Birighitti, Mathew Leckie (Adelaide United), Ryan Edwards (Australian Institute of Sport), Matthew Acton, Daniel Bowles (Brisbane Roar), Mustafa Amini, Sam Gallagher, Nikola Stanojevic, Marc Warren (Central Coast Mariners), Steven Lustica (Gold Coast United), Dylan McGowan (Hearts), Eli Babalj, Brendan Hamill (Melbourne Heart), Kerem Bulut (FK Mlada Boleslav), Ben Kantarovski (Newcastle Jets), Jason Davidson (Pacos de Ferreira), Alex Pearson (Perth Glory), Matthew Fletcher (Sunderland), Terry Antonis, Kofi Danning, Rhyan Grant, Dimitrios Petratos (Sydney FC) and Tommy Oar (FC Utrecht).
GREAT GAME, SHAME ABOUT THE GROUND (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show)
Congratulations to all four teams in the All Flags Finals Series for on putting on two superb games over the weekend. The football was great to watch and was what you would expect for finals football. However, there are a few things that need to be looked at if we are to continue to take the game where it should be.
The surface at Nash Field was not up to the standard required for hosting Saturday's semi-final between rivals Western Knights and Perth SC - it was appalling and detrimental to the game. Is a surface worthy of finals football when a player dribbling the ball has it bounce up and hit him on the knee? Both sets of players did extraordinarily well to play the football they did on such a pitch.
Stirling Lions and Floreat Athena dished out a humdinger of a finish in the evening game. However, as much as they have new lights at Macedonia Park, they were not of a high enough standard to host a game, let alone a semi-final. Some areas of the pitch were far darker than others, and the angle of the lights in the eyes of spectators in the main stand.
Football West have done well with the finals this year and have shown a great deal of thought splitting the times and the venues. But a question has to be asked does the 6.00pm kick-off work and how many people are watching both games? Having done so the past two weeks I am not sure that this has worked as well as people hoped.
Maybe games should be played back-to-back at one venue, which would ensure a good crowd for both games. It was also reflect well on the video highlights which in turn would enable those at Football West charged with finding sponsorship to have a package to show provisional sponsors that would be attractive.
The downside of this is the money made by the host clubs. One option would be for Football West to man the gates and split the revenue four-ways. It's a possibility but one that may get voted down by the clubs, who really need to be asking what is best for the game, and what will bring in more sponsors?
FIVE-STAR PERFORMANCE BY GLORY YOUTH
Perth Glory Youth opened their 2010/11 campaign with a resounding 5-0 thrashing of Melbourne Victory this afternoon at Epping Stadium. Andrija Jukic scored twice with Sebit Oyet and Howard Fondyke grabbing one each in a barnstorming first half with Josh Risdon completing the scoring after the break. Glory’s interplay down the flanks was far too slick for the home team with Tommy Amphlett and Oyet proving a constant menaces as they paired up with Jukic, who did the world of good to his chances of a first team call-up.
Early on in the match, Glory Youth did all the attacking with their hosts barely able to make it out of defence. Cameron Edwards heading just over the crossbar from Oyet cross before Jukic’s shot from the left flashed narrowly past Alastair Bray’s post. Amphlett then surged down the right before unleashing a fierce shot that Dowisha did well to keep out of his net. This positive approach paid off on 26 minutes when Oyet’s curling shot from the left drifted over the goalkeeper. The margin was doubled fourteen minutes later when Jukic fired in the follow-up after Bray blocked a poorly struck penalty from Fondyke.
With this the floodgates opened. Another beautiful run from Amphlett in the 42nd minute ended with a cut-back that found the unlucky Fondyke, who made amends for his earlier miss by tucking in goal number three. Then, just on the stroke of half-time, Jukic rubbed salt into the wound when he bagged his second from a similar squared ball after another lovely piece of play from Amphlett, who was showing no indication on the hip problem that had been troubling him a few weeks back.
There wasn’t too much relief for Victory after the turnaround. A calamitous error by Bray in the 70th minute was punished with Joshua Risdon bundling the ball in off his chest to take the difference to five goals. Both sides rung the changes from the bench but the quality of the game dissipated as the afternoon wore on. Victory did see more of the ball in the second stanza with Tedros Yabio looking the most likely to score, however, genuine chances were few and far between all day for the home team.
GRIFFITHS FINDING HIS FEET
Rostyn Griffiths has provided the spark for Central Coast Mariners early season surge up the A-League table. The talented midfielder turned in successive man-of-the-match performances in wins over Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart to help guide the Mariners into third spot. One of eleven newcomers in the Mariners' squad, Griffiths is enjoying life in Gosford and that's being reflected on the park. "It's quiet but I like that you have the benefits of being near Sydney if you need to be and Newcastle as well," he commented. "Bit by bit I'm getting to know my way around and my girlfriend is over here now as well so we're enjoying it."
Griffiths made his first team debut for ECU Joondalup as a 15-year old before leaving Perth to enter the academy at Blackburn Rovers, where he found opportunities limited. "I did all the training in the world at Blackburn, but I wasn't really going anywhere. I was loaned out to League Two (Accrington Stanley), but that wasn't where I wanted to be," said the now 22-year old. "I felt coming back to the A-League, where I'd be playing with better quality players, would be a good place for me to grow. I'm starting to feel like I've turned the corner.
The past eighteen months have been a difficult journey for Griffiths who made his A-League for Adelaide United before playing last season at North Queensland Fury. "There's definitely been a period of adjustment," he said. "I knew if I found the right team, I'd be able to perform to my best. Last season I set some routes, but this season things have just clicked into place. This (defensive midfield) is a new role for me, but Arnie (coach Graham Arnold) has worked really hard with me to get a good understanding of it. When you know the coach is backing you like that, it gives you so much confidence."
Griffiths' technique, touch and vision validate his dream of one day being called up for the Socceroos. He represented Australian at Under-17 level while at Blackburn and a year ago knocked back an offer to play for Wales in the hope that he'll get the chance to wear green and gold at senior level. "I think it's important to have a connection when you play international football, and I've never felt Welsh," he said. "But playing for the Socceroos, that's my biggest ambition." The Mariners take on seventh-placed Gold Coast United in Queensland this afternoon.
LIONS HOLD NERVE TO EDGE THRILLER (with Tim Lefort, Football West)
Stirling Lions are through to the last three of the All Flags Finals Series after emerging victorious from an epic Minor Semi-Final clash with Floreat Athena under lights at Macedonia Park. John Migas fired Floreat into a first half lead only for that to be cancelled out midway through the second period by Bobby Wilson, and with neither team able to add to their tally the game moved to a penalty shoot-out where the hosts triumphed 9-8.
The first chance of the evening came at the Floreat end where Johnny Mirco headed straight at James Turvill from a Julian Madaschi cross. Mirco was again in the action on the quarter hour but, after a clever turn on the edge of the 18-yard box, the livewire attacker was unable to keep his shot down. Stirling failed to heed either warning and on 18 minutes were punished as Jarrad Smith’s centre found Migas, who with his second touch brilliantly found the gap between goalkeeper and upright from a tight angle.
Branimir Mikulic’s long-range attempt didn’t have the power to beat Turvill as Floreat went looking for a second goal. It took 33 minutes for Stirling to fashion a chance but Alex Dunn was untroubled by Shane Robinson, and soon after Ludovic Boi lifted high of the crossbar. With half-time Ante Kovacevic was forced from the field with blood streaming from a facial wound following an aerial dual with Phil Arnold. When play resumed it was Floreat who looked the more likely to score but neither Mikulic nor Mirco could convert their chances.
Migas squandered a great chance to give Floreat some breathing space early in the second period by blazing high from 16-metres. Paul Lincoln went to his bench just after the hour, bringing on Ndumba Makeche and Stef Frost to almost immediate effect. The hosts gained a free-kick in a central position some 23-metres out that Wilson rocketed past Dunn and into the bottom left corner to bring the teams level. With this Stirling lifted and in the remaining minutes Mario Marcinko, Makeche and Wilson had chances to seal victory in regulation time.
Makeche combined with Frost in the first period of extra-time but the latter’s low drive from just inside the area was well held by Dunn. Mo Atak sliced wide Floreat’s first opening, then Turvill made an important low save to deny Migas after a quick counter-attack. But with neither team able to break through the game went to penalties with both converting their first five efforts. Atak was thwarted by Turvill but Wilson blasted into the crossbar to keep things level. The teams traded goals until Dunn skied the twentieth spot kick high, sparking great scenes of jubilation from the Stirling playing and coaching staff.
Stirling coach Lincoln was thrilled with the result and heaped praised on his players - particularly Boi - for fighting back from a goal down. “I’m so proud of the boys,” he said. “They showed so much character, it just makes you proud to be involved with a group like this. We were hurt last week, we threw it away but we just needed to stay positive and this is a great result. Ludo, I love him. He has the heart of a lion and just works so hard, he never stops.”
KNIGHTS THROUGH TO SEASON FINALE
Western Knights qualified for the 2010 Grand Final with a hard-fought 2-0 win over arch-rival Perth SC at Nash Field. Anthony Campbell put the home side on course for victory midway through the second half before Stuart Montgomery converted a controversial stoppage time penalty to secure the Knights a home win over Perth for the first time in six years. The Knights progress to the 2nd October Grand Final where they’ll meet either Perth or Stirling Lions, who face off in next week’s Preliminary Final.
Chances were few and far between in a cautious opening spell. David Micevski flashed just wide of the far post from 9-metres after getting on the end of a David Annall long ball down the right. The bumpy surface pitch was playing havoc with both teams passing game an on 14 minutes David Onoforo blazed high after the ball bobbled up just as he was about to shoot. Campbell should have posted the games’ first goal but headed over the top from 6-metres after meeting a 24th minute Simon Versacio cross.
It took half an hour before Frazer Siddall came under fire, the Knights goalkeeper punching clear an Antonio Naglieri free-kick under pressure from Craig Simpson and Trent Kay. The home side was well in control and six minutes later Campbell headed wide a David Micevski, and shortly after David Price played through for Montgomery who was thwarted by Devon Spence’s courageous save. Perhaps the best chance of the half came towards the end when Campbell looked certain to score from Montgomery’s back post cross, however, Kay did enough to force the big striker into heading wide.
Both teams came out for the second period displaying an increased desire to be first on the scoreboard. Montgomery had a goal bound shot deflected wide and from the resulting corner Campbell again headed high. Four minutes later it was Perth’s turn with Hayden Doyle’s effort from the edge of the 18-yard box narrowly past the upright. Campbell was causing Perth’s back three all sorts of problems and, after putting wide successive crosses from Versacio and Jack Doyle, he finally got one on target by heading straight at Spence from Duncan Hind’s delivery.
Campbell made amends for all those misses on 71 minutes by calmly stroking past Spence after receiving a quick through ball from Montgomery and advancing inside the area. Perth threw everything into getting back on level terms but Naglieri’s low free-kick was deflected away by Price with Siddall rooted to his line, while Onoforo was harshly pulled up for offside in the final minute of regulation time. The game had entered the 92nd minute when referee David Scragg ruled Spence to have fouled Montgomery, who picked himself up to convert from the penalty spot.
Post-game, Knights coach Carl Medica was understandably delighted at being through to the Grand Final. “The players responded well, they deserve a great deal of credit for today’s win,” Medica said. “We spoke before the game about putting the pressure on Perth and not let them dwell on the ball, and the whole team did that. Perth has had a good record here and I told the boys before the game that is in the past, and to focus on today. We changed things around a bit and to the players credit they carried out the instruction and got the rewards.”
ON THIS DAY … 1982
Spearwood Dalmatinac celebrated their 20th anniversary by lifting the Division One trophy without defeat on the afternoon of 18 September, 1982. Howard Franz, Matt Pearson and Frank Smerilli scored in the final round defeat of Inglewood Kiev to bring the regular season trophy back to Dalmatinac Park for the second time in four years. Spearwood won seventeen games and drew the remaining five to eclipse Perth Azzurri's unbeaten championship of twelve months earlier.
The foundations of Spearwood's remarkable winter were laid in pre-season when coach John Davies, backed by an enthusiastic committee, brought in some quality recruits that included English imports Dennis Milenkovic, Pearson and Eric Williams along with star striker Kevin Elliott. Despite the absence of a Night Series, the newcomers blended quickly with established players Tony Witschge, Franz, Stephen Snell and Smerilli to put Spearwood on top of the table from day one.
Spearwood hit the ground running with a trio of three-goal wins over North Perth Croatia, Kingsway Olympic - against who Smerilli hit four goals - and Perth Azzurri. It took until round six for East Fremantle Tricolore to take a point from them, a feat Floreat Athena repeated a week later. Spearwood responded by mauling Stirling Cracovia 5-0 to kick-start a six-game winning run in which Elliott put the ball in the back of the net ten times.
Round fourteen produced a tough nil-all draw at home to Perth Azzurri, a result West Perth Macedonia repeated a fortnight later before East Fremantle earned a 2-2 draw. However, Spearwood weren't about to be denied and a comfortable 4-2 home win against Floreat got them back on track. Spearwood finished the season just as they started, piling on seventeen goals without reply in their last four games to finished thirteen points clear of East Fremantle in second place.
Spearwood confirmed their status as Western Australia's one team a few weeks later when Elliott scored twice and Smerilli once in their 3-1 Top Four Cup final defeat of Inglewood. The history making Spearwood Dalmatinac squad of 1982 featured Tony Witschge, Gary Cole, Mark O'Keefe, K.Evans, Dennis Milenkovic, Howard Franz, Stephen Snell, Matt Pearson, Frank Smerilli, Kevin Elliott, Eric Williams, Dave Kamasz, Z.Gavranic and S.Abram.
DESPERATE JETS DOWN GLORY
Newcastle Jets put off-field problems aside to inflict a 2-0 loss on Perth Glory last night at EnergyAustralia Stadium. Michael Bridges volleyed the cash-strapped club into an early lead with second half substitute Labinot Haliti adding another late in the piece to earn the Jets their first win of the 2010/11 campaign. The final margin could have been greater had the hosts not been denied twice by the woodwork and Glory goalkeeper Tando Velaphi. “They were really putting everything into it and we just couldn’t match their intensity,” said Velaphi.
With Newcastle’s fate likely to become clearer early next week, the players made good on their promise to stay focused in the face of adversity with a spirited performance. Only 10 minutes had gone when Kasey Wehrman’s corner from the right was chested down by Jeremy Brokie and captain Bridges volleyed in superbly from 6-metres. It was a perfect start for Branko Culina’s side and they were unlucky not to have had another three minutes later with Velaphi flicked the ball away from the net after Nikolai Topor-Stanley’s header deflected off defender Todd Howarth.
It was one-way traffic as Velaphi stretched to push away another Topor-Stanley header, while Chinese striker Zhang Shuo shot wide after being played in by Jeremy Brockie. Velaphi came to the rescue again just after the hour half by pushing Ruden Zadkovich’s long-range effort around the post after Adriano Pellegrino gave the ball away in the middle of the park. After being totally outplayed, Glory should have equalised in the 43rd minute when Josh Mitchell’s cross from the left found an unmarked Robbie Fowler who sent the ball wide from 7-metres.
The second half opened much like the first, Zadkovich playing a one-two with Brockie before his shot flicked the top of the crossbar. Chances on goal then pretty much dried up until the 69th minute when Steven McGarry hit straight at Kennedy. Brockie was thwarted in a one-on-one with Velaphi, then McGarry flashed just wide after being found by Todd Howarth. Newcastle sealed the points on 89 minutes, substitute Ali Abbas picking out Haliti who skipped past Andy Todd before beating Velaphi from 1-metres. And it would have been three-nil had Velaphi not saved a stoppage time strike from Haliti.
MIKULIC IS YOUR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Floreat Athena midfielder Branimir Mikulic has been voted the footballwa.net 2010 Premier League Player of the Year by the slenderest possible margin from James Robinson (Armadale) and David Micevski (Western Knights). Mikulic, winner of our inaugural award in 2001, finished just two votes ahead of joint runners-up Robinson and Micevski in the awards’ closest ever finish. The footballwa.net Premier League Player of the Year, the longest running award of its kind, is voted for by the players, club representatives and supporters of the local game.
Taki Nicolaidis, assistant coach at Floreat, said Mikulic's talent for creating as well as finishing have made him one of the top players in the State League. "Bran scored nineteen goals from midfield - which is an achievement in itself - and also assisted many more for his team mates," commented Nicolaidis. "On top of that he is a very hard player to match-up on because of his size, strength and endurance. He has a great touch for a big guy and one of the fittest players at our club."
Mikulic and Robinson charged to the top of the leader board early and then went vote-for-vote throughout the four-week polling period. Micevski, winner of last years’ award, steadily accumulated votes to come into contention towards the end of voting. When counting finished Mikulic had 65 votes - just two more than Robinson and Micevski - to claim his second footballwa.net Premier League Player of the Year.
Stirling Lions captain Shane Robinson placed a distant third with 32 votes to come in three ahead of team mate Bobby Wilson. Former national league player Adrian Webster (Cockburn City) was in hot pursuit on 27 votes, one more than talented young defender David McNally (Swan United) and State striker Andreas Oliviera (Perth SC). Another Stirling player, Jason Gavin, polled 22 votes to finish one in front of Hayden Doyle (Perth) and Adam Tong of Balcatta.
Mikulic was a Fremantle City player when he won the footballwa.net Premier League Player of the Year in 2001. Previous recipients of the award are currently national league players Nick Ward (Stirling) and Jamie Coyne (Perth), David Micevski (Knights), Andy Brown (Mandurah City), Boima Karpeh (Floreat), Simon Harland (Sorrento), Antonio Naglieri (Perth) and Shane Crampton (Perth). The footballwa.net team thanks everyone who voted in our annual award.
MARULANDA TOPS THE POPS
Bayswater City marksman Gustavo Marulanda is the footballwa.net 2010 Division One Player of the Year. Marulanda was among the leaders from early in counting but it was only in the last few days that he broke away from Patrick Quinn and his Bunbury Forum Force team mate David Rodgers. The footballwa.net Division Player of the Year is voted for by the players, club representatives and supporters of the local game, and is the only award of its kind.
Mauro Marchione, coach of Bayswater, has nothing but praise for his Colombian striker. "Gustavo has been crucial for us this year, a player of his experience and quality can make a difference on any part of the field and in any team," Marchione said. "He is certainly a player who should be playing at the highest level in WA - like he did in Colombia. Gustavo's speed and technique make him a lethal weapon and a constant threat for defences, he can shoot with both feet and hits the target more times than not from inside and outside the box."
Marulanda, who spearheaded Bayswater’s promotion quest, ended the four-week polling period with 44 votes to take out the footballwa.net Division One Player of the Year for 2010. Second for the second year running was Bunbury midfielder Quinn, who kept pace with Marulanda in collecting 38 votes. 2006 winner Rodgers placed third with 31 votes, which was one more than Anthony McStea (Bayswater) who benefitted greatly from a late rush of votes.
A stellar first year with Gosnells City earned Adrian McBride 25 votes and fifth on the leader board. Bayswater playmaker Damien Catalano collected 23 votes to place level with veteran attacker Dale Wingell of Dianella White Eagles. Oliver McGee (Bunbury) polled 22 votes and was one ahead of striker Jamie Burns (Forrestfield United) and Wanneroo City team mates Guy McDonald and Brian Cairney.
Marulanda becomes the eighth footballwa.net Division One Player of the Year, and the second from Bayswater. Last years award was taken out by Balcatta striker Ashley Rosendale with other previous winners being Paul Harvey (Canning City), Andy Brown (Mandurah City), David Rodgers (South West Phoenix), Adam Raines (Balcatta), Scott Bulloch (Wanneroo) and Boima Karpeh (Bayswater). The footballwa.net team would like to thank everyone who took the time to cast a vote in our annual award.
KNIGHTS, PERTH ON THE BRINK OF ANOTHER GRAND FINAL
The State Championship will become a step closer for the winner of tomorrow's Major Semi-Final between powerhouse clubs Western Knights and Perth SC at Nash Field (2.00pm). The Knights made full use of their week off by taking time to watch Perth get the better of Stirling Lions 3-2 in the Qualifying Final. But Perth hold the advantage over their opponents this season, winning 2-1 both home and away.
Carl Medica is unconcerned his team lost both regular season meeting to Perth. "I don't think past results have any relevance on how we will perform this weekend," he said. "It will be a tough game and we all know that Perth will be very organised and hard to break down. But we've worked on that and we are confident of a strong performance on Saturday ... our standing suggests we have been the most consistent team this year."
Refreshed from a week's break, training has been intense at the Knights this week with players giving their all to convince the coaching start they deserve a start. David Micevski and David Price will run the show from the middle. Stuart Montgomery has the difficult task of unlocking an imposing Perth's rearguard, while at the other end captain David Annall and Stuart Ferguson will be out to limit Perth's goal scoring chance.
Perth boss Graham Normanton knows it'll be a tough afternoon at the office for his team. "They are a very good team and will be fresh and raring to go so it will be a very difficult game for us," he said. "Our depth has been tested to its fullest during the second half of the season and they will look to exploit that. If we are to have any chance on Saturday we will have to be at our very best. If it's as half as entertaining as the game against the Lions last week it will be one not to be missed.”
A solid workout against Stirling means Perth come into the game in peak form. David Onoforo scored twice in that game and will need to be carefully watched, while a defensive line featuring Shaun Kilkelly and Trent Kay is primed for a shutout. Playmaker Dom de Felice has been in glittering touch and, along with central partner Antonio Naglieri, will have a big say in who comes out on top at the end of 90 minutes.
WINNER TAKES ALL FROM MINOR SEMI
Traditional rivals Stirling Lions and Floreat Athena meet for the fourth time this year in tomorrow's Minor Semi-Final under lights at Macedonia Park (6.00pm). The winner of this make-or-break contest will progress to the Preliminary Final and keep alive their hopes of being crowned State Champions, however, the vanquished will bow out of the top five series and begin focusing on 2011.
Stirling coach Paul Lincoln wants a much improved performance from his side after they bowed 3-2 on home soil to Perth last Saturday. "We have to regroup and make amends," Lincoln said. "It's now do-or-die and the players understand the challenge that lies ahead. We have the utmost respect for Floreat and the way they play football so we expect a tough game. If we play at our best I'm confident we can get through."
Jason Gavin's return from injury is a big bonus for Stirling and the former Middlesbrough player will play a key role in defence along side Bobby Wilson and Michael Pugliese. The drive out of midfield comes via captain Shane Robinson and Tom Ingram with Ludovic Boi and Scott Muirhead providing width on the flanks. The task of putting the ball in the net falls to Mario Marcinko and Phil Arnold. .
Floreat left it late to see off ECU Joondalup but, nonetheless, travel to Macedonia Park full of confidence. "It was a very good win against ECU, especially after our 5-1 loss to them the week before. I felt we showed a lot of character," said assistant coach Taki Nicolaidis. "Our games this year with Stirling have been very close and I don't expect Saturday to be any different. It will be a high pressure game and the team that wants it more and takes its chances will continue on."
The unsung hero of Floreat's season has been goalkeeper Alex Dunn, who conceded the fewest goals in home and away competition and is assisted in marshalling the defence by veteran player-coach Ante Kovacevic. Adam Bachiller continues to impress out wide as John Migas and Jason Barrera toil away in the engine room. What influence Branimir Mikulic and Johny Mirco can have in the final third could well determine this game.
GLORY YOUTH KICKS OFF
Perth Glory Youth commence their 2010/11 campaign with a trip to Melbourne Victory on Sunday. The new season comes with new challenges for the Glory youngsters, including how to replicate the achievements of last season when the side finished top of the table. "We have a much younger squad this time around and most of them haven't played in the youth league yet," said third-year defender Ryan Pearson. "It's always going to be tough getting into the finals but I think we've got a really good skilful side and I think we'll do really well."
The 2010/11 Perth Glory Youth is Cameron Edwards, Dean Evans, Luke Johnston, Sam Mitchinson, Sahr Musa, Brandon O'Neill, Sebit Oyet, Alex Pearson, Ryan Pearson, Billy Quinncroft, Josh Risdon, Storm Roux, Stephen Walmsley. First team players Brent Griffiths, Howard Fondyke, Andrija Jukic and Tommy Amphlett have been included in the squad for Saturday's game in Melbourne. 990am 6RPH community radio will broadcast all Perth Glory Youth's away games this season, commencing with the clash with the Australian Institute of Sport on 16 October.
ENTERTAINMENT GUARANTEED AT NASH FIELD
A new chapter will be written into the annals of Perth SC and Western Knights when they meet in this weekend's Major Semi-Final. Quality, attacking football is always high on the menu whenever these State League giants meet and Saturday's match at Nash Field promises to be full of excitement and drama. The odds appear to be stacked in favour of a Perth win, however, everyone at the Knights knows it's time the tables were turned on their long-time foe.
Finishing top of the Premier League has only intensified the Knights desire to be crowned State Champions according to defender Stuart Ferguson. "The league was very competitive this year and to be honest we didn't have that many easy games," he said. "We dropped a lot of stupid points along the way (but) it was nice to hit some form towards the end of the season and win the league, especially after the decision to change coaches was made."
After conceding two quick goals to Stirling Lions last week Perth bounced back with David Onoforo (2) and Andreas Oliviera finding the net in a memorable win. "I thought the victory was a fantastic effort and endeavour by the boys," said Perth's Devon Spence of the 3-2 Qualifying Final win. "It was a classic fight back. It's not very often that any team goes down two-nil inside three minutes, so to be able to come back was very rewarding."
Perth have turned Nash Field into something of a happy hunting ground, the Blues winning on each of their last six visits. "We do have a good record there but every game is different so we will go there to play our normal game," commented Spence, who says the win at Stirling came at just the right time in Perth's season. "After the Stirling game we proved to ourselves what we are capable of - we have trust in every player that they'll put in 100% for the team."
Ferguson, who re-joined the Knights early in the season after a spell in New Zealand, is hoping his team can reverse the form guide. "Perth seem to win games against us regularly, which is something that has to stop and I'm pretty sure Carl (Medica) and Alex (Christie) will have something up their sleeve for their first encounter with Perth," he said. "The reason I play football is to be part of games like the one lined-up on Saturday, I'm sure it will be a cracker."
STIRLING, FLOREAT GO AT IT AGAIN
The fourth meeting of traditional rivals Stirling Lions and Floreat Athena takes place this weekend. Honours have been shared with each team winning once and the remainder being drawn, however, it was Stirling that won the most recent game 2-1 to lift the State League Cup only a few weeks back. There were contrasting fortunes for the teams last time out and, fully aware that any slip now could end their season, Stirling and Floreat will be pulling out all the stops on Saturday at Macedonia Park.
Phil Arnold and Bobby Wilson each netted inside three minutes to put Stirling in a commanding position against Perth, who rallied with three unanswered goals to run out 3-2 winners. "To lose a game after leading two-nil is very disappointing," said Stirling midfielder Roberto Lujan, who entered the game after 65 minutes. "I think we took control of the game in the second half, we created more opportunities but creating is not enough if you don't finish."
Floreat were pushed all the way by ECU Joondalup before Branimir Mikulic bagged a 119th minute winner. "We knew going into the game Joondalup would throw everything at us," said Mikulic, this week voted the footballwa.net Premier League Player of the Year. "Joondalup have got some great players that can make something out of nothing and really pushed us to the end. Last week we matched them mentally as well as physically, which proved to be the difference at the end of the day."
A knee injury picked up against Cockburn City in mid-July forced Lujan to miss the closing stages of the home and away series, as well as the State League Cup Final. "I'm looking forward to playing against Floreat, after missing out in the Cup Final win against them," he said. "They are a very good side that sure will give us trouble, but I'm very confident on the ability, skill and team play that we've been showing during the season ... we will win through."
Whether Floreat consider their season a success or a failure hinges on the outcome of Saturday's game according to Mikulic. "Floreat need to get into the Grand Final - anything less would be considered a failure," he said. "We definitely owe Stirling one, and I think we have learnt a lot about Stirling's game in the past three encounters. AK (Ante Kovacevic) has really worked hard on shape work in the past couple of weeks and the extra sessions have definitely helped the hunger of the team increase."
BAYSWATER PARTY INTO THE WEE SMALL HOURS
Celebrations went well into the night and flowed through into the following day after Bayswater City clinched promotion to the Premier League on the weekend. Bayswater completed a remarkable Division One season by defeating Rockingham City 4-0 on Saturday before players, coaches club officials and supporters headed back to Frank Drago Reserve to party hard. “I left relatively early but heard most of the players and the supporters celebrated all night - some even went through to Sunday night,” said coach Mauro Marchione.
Marchione is proud of the role he played in returning Bayswater to top flight football. “It has been a long and painful season at the club (so) finishing on top it meant a lot for all of us, particularly for the president Gerry Maio and Pasquale Quaglia,” said Marchione, whose team finished six points clear at the top of the table. “The club is finally where they belong to be and I’m very proud to have been part of this promotion. There’s a project in place to renovate the entire club - new club rooms and change rooms plus a significant extension of the ground and stand - and being back in the Premier League will certainly accelerate that.”
Bayswater secured the Division One title without kicking a ball on Saturday after title rival Bunbury Forum Force suffered a shock final day loss at Dianella White Eagles. Even though that left Bayswater’s game at Rockingham a dead rubber, Marchione said he had no problems motivating his players. “Focusing and professionalism has never been a problem with this team, every game the boys played they did to win regardless of the situation,” commented Marchione. “We entered the field with our usual determination, put Rockingham under enormous pressure and scored three early goals by playing great football.”
Bunbury and Wanneroo City may have been Bayswater’s main title rivals but Marchione always knew his team were better that both. “We knew Bunbury were going to fall somewhere, it was just a matter of waiting for that to happen. I won’t deny they had a great season but that was because of the quality of Patrick Quinn and David Rodgers rather than their imports,” he said. “Wanneroo never created problems for us, even though they were chasing promotion when we met them with five games to go they tested us.”
Marchione tipped his hat in the direction of eastern corridor clubs Forrestfield United and Gosnells City, who finished the season fourth and fifth respectively. “In my opinion Forrestfield and Gosnells played better football (than Bunbury and Wanneroo),” he commented. “I congratulate John Hunter and Tony McGuire on playing very good quality football with two very young teams. I appreciated the accuracy and quality of their teams, both technically and tactically, and the mentality to play the game to the end.”
A lot of hard work and forward planning went into Bayswater’s 2010 campaign. “It began when I was appointed senior coach last year,” explained Marchione. “My first task was to evaluate the existing players and release those who were not required for the philosophy of the game I had in my mind. The only player I wanted to have with me this year but couldn’t keep was Ryan Jeans (who joined Sorrento). I then worked on preparing our younger players for first team football while recruiting players who had the qualities I was after.”
The players’ mental discipline and ball playing abilities were key ingredients in Bayswater’s success. “Everywhere we went to play we went to win. Even in the Cup against Cockburn City we went confident enough to win and, despite missing five regulars, we dominated that game but lost it to Cockburn’s only shot,” Marchione commented. “I play only players who can build-up play and have a good first touch. We worked a lot on shape and passing and the end result of that is we always play quality football, even when we lose.”
The many hours of work put in on the training track in pre-season also paid dividends according to Marchione. “The preparation we did in pre-season meant we always finished games stronger than we started. In fact, we regularly scored goals in the most crucial games in the last fifteen minutes,” said the coach. “This strong preparation also meant we had very few muscular injuries all year. I had almost every player at my disposal from the beginning, starting with the Night Series and going right through to last Saturday.”
Life in the Premier League is traditionally tough on the newcomers but Marchione is already looking at what he needs to do to make Bayswater seriously competitive. “We certainly have in mind a few players, some of them have already come knocking at our door,” he said. “My first aim is to keep everyone at the club before thinking to get someone else. I had only seventeen players - including two goalkeepers - this year for the first team and in the Premier League that is certainly not sufficient. We won’t rush things, we’ll choose accordingly with our priorities and add only in the positions were we don’t have much depth.”
TODD SET FOR GLORY ACTION
David Mitchell is preparing to inject veteran Andy Todd into the fray for Friday night’s away meeting with Newcastle Jets. With young defender Scott Neville on international duty, the Perth Glory coach has a more than handy replacement Todd who has now fully recovered from pre-season knee surgery. Mitchell is likely to re-jig defence with Todd expected to resume his usual central role with Jamie Coyne moving out to cover Neville at right full-back. “Andy’s ready now,” declared Mitchell. “He’s had a couple of good weeks training under his belt and he’s ready to play now, so Andy will slot in there (in defence).”
Having served a two-game ban for simulation, striker Michael Baird is again available for selection as Glory look to bounce back from last week’s surprise home loss to Gold Coast United. Mitchell said he has cautioned Baird against any over-enthusiasm after a frustrating campaign so far, which also saw him miss the season’s first three games after delays with his international transfer clearance. “Michael’s all right,” Mitchell said. “We’ve just said to him, ‘look, don’t come back in a rush and be cool headed about things’. He’s no problems, Michael, and you know he’s just looking forward to get out there playing again.”
It’s been a tough start to the season for Newcastle who are yet to record a win and only last week received a financial boost from Football Federation Australia as they struggle to make ends meet off the field. Mitchell expects a very tough encounter against a side which hasn’t been too distracted by the off-field dramas. “They’re a good side, they’ve been playing some good football and not getting the result,” Mitchell said. “It’s a dangerous game for us. Newcastle, they’ll be desperate for a win. It’s unfortunate what’s happening at the club at the moment and we wish them well, but not on the park when we play.”
SHAMROCK FOR THE STATE LEAGUE?
Shamrock Rovers will carefully evaluate the pros and cons of moving into the State League after clinching the Sunday Premier League title. The weekend's 3-1 win against fourth-placed University of WA put Shamrock seven points clear at the top of the table and out of reach of Kingsway Olympic with two rounds remaining. Although eligible to move into the State League, there are no guarantees Shamrock will accept it according to club secretary Wayne Brooks. "We have committee meetings coming up to decide what we will do for 2011," Brooks said.
2010 wasn't without its challenges for Shamrock as Brooks explained. "We experienced many injuries - like all clubs - but most of our injuries happened to our better players. Having several lads go overseas always hurts, and we had no recognised goalkeeper for five games but this had little impact on team morale/confidence," Brooks explained. "This is probably the most enjoyable of the five championships Shamrock have won as we did not have points taken off us, like in 2004, or have to play off in a final, like 2007. We won it because we were the best team over the season."
PASSARELLI HAS EYES FIRMLY SET ON SOCCEROOS GOAL
Daniel Passarelli is one step closer to realising his dream of playing for the Socceroos after winning State Under-14 selection for this month’s National Youth Championships. Passarelli, who keeps goal for Stirling Lions, said he was delighted to be selected but acknowledges Western Australia have a mountain to climb to be in medal contention. “Realistically, we’re probably not expected to win against the likes of New South Wales and Victoria,” said the 14-year old. “But if I don’t concede any goals, then we’re going to get some points.” Passarelli collected a league winners’ medal with Stirling this year and harbours a burning ambition to play for Perth Glory Youth.
MARQUEE TO BE A THING OF THE PAST (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show)
The days of 'marquee players' in the A-League are coming to an end. It has been proposed that the term 'marquee' be dropped from the A-League vernacular next season, and each club be allowed one player outside of the salary cap. So gone will be the chance to have, as Perth Glory have this season, Robbie Fowler as a foreign marquee player and Mile Sterjovski as an Australian marquee player. The reason for this decision we are lead to believe is due to the fact that so many marquee players have failed to live up to this status, and it has had a negative impact on the A-League. Of course saving money has nothing to do with it.
It is also believed the number of visa or foreign players will be reduced from season 2011/12. This move is also aimed at encouraging the clubs to develop, or give game-time to local talent, although it is believed concern about European players coming to Australia to play when aged in their early thirties may have also played a part in this move. The sad fact with this is that, unlike rugby union, footballers are often in their prime in their late twenties and early thirties. Some of these players are definitely raising the bar in the A-League in terms of their passing ability and vision. It must also not be forgotten that such players bring punters through the turnstiles, as opposed to a twenty-something unknown.
WARD EAGER ON VICTORY RETURN
Wellington Phoenix new boy Nick Ward cannot wait for tomorrow's A-League clash against a Melbourne Victory side that he recently exited, and hopes to give 'a good hiding'. Buoyed by a stunning long-range strike that sealed Wellington's 2-1 win over Sydney FC on the weekend Ward is certainly relishing the return to his former stomping ground. "I'm excited about it actually. It's a good challenge for me and I'm really looking forward to playing against my ex team-mates and giving them a good hiding," Ward said with a grin. "It's good to take that (confidence from scoring) into the game against Melbourne and hopefully I can reproduce something like that (against them)."
NEVILLE EARNS AUSTRALIA CALL UP
Perth Glory defender Scott Neville has been name in the Australia Under-23 squad for next weeks Four Nation Tournament in Vietnam. Neville was among twenty players who’ll assemble in Sydney for a two-day training camp prior to Friday’s departure for Vietnam. Australia will meet DPR (North) Korea, Kuwait and host nation Vietnam as preparations begin for the Olyroos’ qualification for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
A jubilant Neville, 21, said he was delighted with his maiden call-up for Australia. “Playing for your country is a great achievement and something I’m really looking forward to,” said Neville, who represented the State at under-13, under-14 and under-16 levels while junior with Sorrento. “It was great news when it came through. Hopefully it’s a step in the right direction. I guess just producing the goods week-in, week-out gives players the chance to represent Australia.”
England-born Neville has focused on “small stepping blocks” as he progressed towards his goal of playing for Australia. “I started off just playing in the local league and playing for WA was a big thing,” he said. “From there, getting a trial with the AIS was the next step and then the Glory youth team and then stepping up to the Glory first team. I thought I’d never play for Glory and to get a call up for the Under-23s is great and it shows all the hard work you put in over the years is starting to pay off and it’s all worth it.”
Neville, whose father Steve played professionally for Exeter City and Southampton, said he’d love to return to England representing Australia in two years’ time. “To go and see your family and to be playing in an Olympics would be … words can’t even describe how happy I’d be if that came true,” he said. “I had a little chat (to my father) and he said it’s the start of something new, so you’ve got to work even harder - you’ve achieved nothing and you just got to keep working hard, which is refreshing.”
Touted by many as a future Socceroo, Neville is determined to keep his feet on the ground in his quest to play at the highest level possible. “I think every young aspiring player looks to go up to the next level and the European leagues is definitely the next level (for me),” he said. “You’ve got to be consistent in the A-League first and become a starting XI player and a consistent player before you look to go over and that’s what I’m looking to do.”
Olyroos coach Aurelio Vidmar said the upcoming two-week trip is vital for the long-term success of his young charges. “This is our first opportunity to get this particular group of players together,” he said. “There is still a long way to go before our first official qualifier next June, but camps like these are an important part of the preparation process. The majority of the squad that will take us through the qualifiers will be A-League based players, so we will need to work hard to ensure that the squad is the strongest one possible for the campaign.”
The Australia Under-23 squad for next weeks Four Nations Tournament in Vietnam is Daniel Mullen (Adelaide United), Luke Brattan, Luke Devere, Mitch Nichols, Andrew Redmayne (Brisbane Roar), Oliver Bozanic (Central Coast Mariners), James Brown, Tahj Minniecon, Jerrad Tyson (Gold Coast United), Jason Hoffman (Melbourne Heart), Mate Dugandzic, Diogo Ferriera (Melbourne Victory), Marko Jesic (Newcastle Jets), Isaka Cernak, Chris Payne (North Queensland Fury), Scott Neville (Perth Glory), Antony Golec, Matthew Jurman, Sebastian Ryall (Sydney Fc) and Mirjan Pavlovic (Wellington Phoenix).
SAGE LASHES FFA
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has accused Football Federation Australia of neglecting the A-League to focus on the Socceroos and the country's 2022 World Cup bid. Sage said the sport's peak body had done little to promote the domestic competition this season despite obvious signs of stress at club level. FFA recently bailed out Newcastle Jets after player wages went unpaid, while in recent times they've also come to the rescue of North Queensland Fury and Adelaide United. "Their whole premise is to get the Socceroos into the World Cup. Now it's to get the World Cup bid as well," Sage said of FFA. "They have severely neglected the A-League, which after the bidding process we are going to need."
FFA currently gives each A-League club a direct cash injection of $1.2 million, as well as $100,000 for corporate hospitality and around $250,000 for travel expenses. But Sage said club's needed double that amount just to cover the $2.35 million salary cap. "Money needs to come in to make sure that all the clubs are 100% viable until the World Cup bid is done and dusted," said Sage, who expects to lose $2.5 million this season. Clive Palmer, owner of Gold Coast United, has taken the controversial step of capping his clubs home crowds to limit his losses.
FFA chief executive Ben Buckley denied they had taken their eye off the A-League and said the Socceroos were run separate to the national competition, while a 13-person project team, funded by government, was dedicated to winning the 2022 bid. "The FFA recognises the fundamental strategic importance of the A-League to football in Australia and spends almost half of its overall revenue on the Hyundai A-League," Buckley said. "At this point in time it is also providing additional financial support to certain clubs such as Adelaide, North Queensland and the Newcastle Jets."
Buckley said the peak body's intention was to provide enough funding to each club to cover the salary cap but that was not possible at the moment. "That is the strategic goal of FFA and that has been clearly communicated to all clubs," he said. "This can't be achieved overnight and requires time as FFA grows its revenue from sponsorship and in time what should be achieved from television rights." Sage argued that a loan could be extended to clubs now in anticipation of the windfall generated through a renewed TV rights deal, which he hoped would be in place next year.
JONES SET FOR LONG WAIT
Australian goalkeeper Brad Jones could be spending an awful lot of time on Liverpool’s bench this season if Pepe Reina maintains his recent form. The Spanish ‘keeper produced two outstanding reflex saves to keep out point-blank headers from Cameron Jerome and Craig Gardner in the first-half of yesterday’s scoreless draw at Birmingham City. Jones, 28, has clearly been designated as the number two custodian at Anfield since last month’s move from Middlesbrough, having been named on the substitutes bench for the past three games. But he might have to show all the patience he needed behind Mark Schwarzer for so long at Middlesbrough.
GOLD COAST EDGE OUT GLORY
Jason Culina has breathed life into the season of Gold Coast United, who defeated Perth Glory 1-0 this afternoon at Perth Oval. Culina’s 23rd minute strike secured Gold Coast maximum points for the first time this season, and condemned Glory to their first loss which dropped them to second on the A-League ladder. “It’s disappointing to lose at home but we did not deserve to win,” coach David Mitchell said. “We will put it down as an off day and we didn’t have enough players at the races.”
Glory were again quick out of the blocks, Jacob Burns low shot was blocked by debutant Bruce Djite and from the resulting corner Robbie Fowler headed powerfully but off-target with barely a minute gone. Mile Sterjovksi pounced on an under-hit goal kick but shot too close to Glen Moss, who two minutes later captured Adriano Pellegrino’s long-range attempt. Gold Coast settled and on the quarter hour fashioned their first chance, Djite flashing wide from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Steve Fitzsimmons orchestrated the games only goal on 23 minutes by crossing from the right for Culina and while his header was well saved by Tando Velaphi the striker made no mistake lashing in the rebound. It should have been two-nil seven minutes later when Adama Traore crossed to an unmarked Culina but he blazed high from 7-metres. The visitors made a strong finish to the half with Culina and Djite combining to send in Tahj Minniecon who flashed a shot just the wrong side of the post.
Steven McGarry went close equalising two minutes into the second half but Moss was out to bravely save at his feet after being played through by Fowler. Gold Coast responded by tightening things in their defensive third where Kristian Rees and Dino Djulbic were outstanding. Culina had the ball in the net again on 61 minutes, however, his close-range finish was disallowed for offside. At the other end Fowler fired high after linking up cleverly with Sterjovski on the edge of the box.
Coach Mitchell pushed Todd Harnwell into attack on 71 minutes and soon after the Glory veteran headed high from 7-metres after meeting a Todd Howarth cross. The home side cranked up the pressure as the clock ticked down, dominating in terms of both possession and territory, but Gold Coast showed great tenacity to weather the storm. The games final chance came the way of Culina on 88 minutes when he raced clear of three defenders and looked set to score when Burns applied a last ditch tackle.
WARD STUNNER REVIVES WELLINGTON
Nick Ward is the toast of New Zealand after his stunning long-range strike gave Wellington Phoenix a 2-1 victory over Sydney FC last night. Ward marked his starting debut for Wellington with a classy 72nd minute match-winner, the midfielder working a neat one-two with Chris Greenacre before rifling into Liam Reddy’s top right-hand corner. Coach Ricki Herbert predicted it would be in line for goal-of-the-season accolades and there was no doubting the importance of the strike as the win kick-started Wellington's season after back-to-back losses.
MIKULIC HEADS FLOREAT HOME IN THRILLER (with Tim Lefort, Football West)
A goal late in extra-time by Branimir Mikulic has secured Floreat Athena a dramatic 3-2 win against ECU Joondalup in today’s Elimination Final at Litis Stadium. It was looking as though penalties would be required when Mikulic headed in at the far post from a John Migas cross to set-up a semi-final showdown with Stirling Lions next weekend. “Joondalup are a 90-minute team, they never give up and credit to them, they put on a good show tonight but fortunately we got that one right at the end,” said Taki Nicolaidis, assistant coach of Floreat.
The first show in anger came via a dead ball situation with John Higgins’ superb strike from 27-metres forcing Alex Dunn to tip over the crossbar. It didn’t take long for Andy Petterson to be called into action at the opposite end, the Joondalup custodian blocking a stinging drive from Jason Barrera. Mikulic should have opened the scoring in the 20th minute but, after Barrera had done brilliantly tee-up his team mate, the striker fired high from 8-metres. Higgins caused problems with another set-piece, his low drive from 22-metres bouncing awkwardly in front of Dunn who was happy to see Charlie Comyn-Platt’s follow-up deflected for a corner.
A John Thornley volley from the top corner of the 18-yard box whistled just over, then on the half-hour Jamie Watt wasted a golden opportunity when he shot straight at Dunn when well positioned just 11-metres out. Floreat punished these misses with a wonderful goal in the 37th minute, Barrera's raking 45-metre pass picking out Mo Atak who took the ball in his stride before rifling past a helpless goalkeeper from 18-metres. A neat move in the Joondalup area almost saw Migas double the hosts’ lead three minutes later when a stunning acrobatic save from Petterson ensured the half-time score would be one-nil..
Joondalup suffered a major setback at the start of the second period when inspirational captain Dale McCulloch was forced off by injury. Unperturbed, the visitors went close to equalising in the 57th minute when Watt’s shot on the turn was off-target and a few minutes later O’Callaghan and Thornley combined with the latter denied by Dunn. Joondalup were lucky not still be in the game after Johny Mirco put the ball in the net at the opposite end, however, the referee’s assistant to correctly disallowed his effort for offside.
The goal Joondalup had been threatening finally arrived in the 67th minute, Chris Wylie’s long throw caused problems in the Floreat defence with Watt lashing in at the far post to bring the teams level. This sparked Floreat back into action with Barrera then Jovo Pavlovic firing past the target from distance. Substitute Adam Wood had a wonderful chance to make himself Floreat’s hero in the final minute of regulation time but the youngster was unable to beat Petterson after Migas had played him through with just the ‘keeper to beat..
The first period of extra-time began with a flurry, Atak forcing a flying save from Petterson before Watt went close from a free-kick at the other end. However, with the change in ends looming, Bachiller put Floreat ahead for the second time with a stooping far-post header from Jarrad Smith’s corner. Joondalup refused to concede and two minutes after the restart Scott Blackmore powered in a header after another Wylie long throw-in had been helped into the box. Smith almost replied instantly but his effort from a tight angle was well smothered by Petterson.
Then, with 119 minutes on the clock, Migas sent over one final cross from the left which Mikulic headed powerfully past Petterson and send his team through to the semi-finals. While happy with the final result, assistant coach Nicolaidis was a little disappointed his team had twice conceded equalisers after going ahead. “It’s finals football but you need to protect your lead when you get your noses in front,” he commented. “The first goal was a great finish by their guy (Watt) but the second goal was a little bit slack defending - that’s something we probably need to work on during the week.”
FIGHTING SPIRIT GETS PERTH OVER THE LINE
Perth SC recovered from conceding twice in the first few minutes to defeat Stirling Lions 3-1 in today’s Qualifying Final at Macedonia Park. David Onoforo scored twice - including the winner - and Andreas Oliviera once but only after Stirling had opened up a quick two-goal lead through Phil Arnold and Bobby Wilson. “To be 2-0 down after three minutes, what a nightmare start,” said Perth boss Graham Normanton. “We settled and played some good football and no one can argue about the quality of the goals. We had a lot of young kids in the team and a lot of injuries, but I’m delighted for them, and they really enjoyed this win today.”
Stirling could not have wished for a better start. Just 15 seconds after kick-off Scott Muirhead crossed from the left for Arnold to fire under goalkeeper Devon Spence and into the net from 12-meters. It was very nearly two-nil shortly after when Muirhead’s long-range effort was parried by Spence and Trent Kay’s superb tackle prevented Mario Marcinko firing in the loose ball. Perth were exposed again in the 3rd minute by a quick short corner which was whipped in by Tom Ingram and an unmarked Wilson fired into the net from 6-metres. The one-way nature of play saw Marcinko bring a low save out of Spence after getting on the end of a Muirhead cross.
Having weathered the onslaught, Perth pulled a goal back on 12 minutes when Onoforo broke down the right and pulled the ball back to Oliveira who was allowed time and space to pick his spot in the top corner from 14-metres. Parity was restored four minutes later, Dom De Felice this time delivering the ball in for Onoforo to shoot into the net from 6-metres. The game now opened with Arnold thwarted by Spence before Turvill kept out shots from Hayden Doyle and Antonio Naglieri. Marcinko was within inches of putting Stirling back in front in stoppage time when his header from a Muirhead free kick beat Spence but was cleared off the line by Naglieri with Shane Robinson putting the follow-up high.
The second half opened with Stirling on the attack. Arnold unleashed a fierce shot on the run that Spence pushed away from the top corner, Wilson met the resulting corner but his header was blocked by Simon Wilson. Stirling were piling on the pressure but time and time again were left frustrated. A Robinson corner found Jason Gavin who was thwarted by Matt Beyer’s goal line block with Marcinko’s follow-up cleared by De Felice. In the 73rd minute Marcinko fired wide from close-range after getting on the end of a Muirhead cross from the left after he’d been found by substitute Roberto Lujan.
Ian McMurray hadn’t been on the park long when he was bundled over inside the 18-yard box by Gavin, referee Mathew Cheeseman pointed straight to the spot from where Onoforo kept his nerve to give Perth the lead with just nine minutes to go. With the game slipping away, Stirling pushed forward in numbers as they sought to equalise. A Muirhead free-kick picked out Wilson but his shot on the turn was superbly blocked by Shaun Kilkelly. The game was deep in stoppage time when Wilson brought a terrific save out of Spence after meeting a corner by Gavin. Soon after the final whistle signalled a famous come-from-behind victory for the team in blue.
Bayswater City celebrated finishing on top of Division One by thrashing Rockingham City 4-0 under lights at Lark Hill Sportsplex. The trophy - and promotion to next year’s Premier League - was secured without Bayswater so much as kicking a ball after their only title rival Bunbury Forum Force suffered a surprise loss to Dianella White Eagles earlier in the day. Even so, the visitors came out firing and with just 6 minutes on the clock Damien Catalano played through Kailo Karpeh, who rounded the goalkeeper before tucking into an empty net.
It was looking as though an absolute landslide was on the cards as Alex Caniglia drilled in Bayswater’s second goal after also being set-up by Catalano. The game was ended as a contest on 16 minutes when Karpeh found the net for a second time. Bayswater’s attractive, attacking style was rewarded only by one further goal which arrived in the 71st minute when Karpeh beat his marker before angling a low shot across the ‘keeper to complete his second hat-trick in eight days. The win put Bayswater six points clear of second-placed Bunbury on the final Division One table.
DIANELLA GIVE WINGELL THE PERFECT FAREWELL
Marc Wingell ended his time as coach of Dianella White Eagles by orchestrating a 3-1 win over Bunbury Forum Force at Dianella Reserve. The home team started strongly and should have gone ahead early but Dale Wingell squandered a golden opportunity at close-range. However, that was forgotten on the quarter hour when Wingell finished clinically after a tidy exchange of passes with Paul Hickey. Dianella were in control and twelve minutes later Wingell turned provider by releasing Callum Roberts to fire in goal number two from 16-metres.
Bunbury came into the game more after the turnaround but despite their best efforts were unable to reduce the deficit. In the opening minutes Patrick Quinn then David Rodgers were presented with good chances on which neither capitalised. Those misses were punished on the hour when Wignell scored Dianella’s third from the penalty spot after Roberts had been pulled down inside the 18-yard box. Bunbury continued to plug away and close to the end were rewarded when Quinn’s shot deflected off a defender and rolled into the net. It as a disappointing way for Bunbury to finish a season that they’d led up until the final weeks.
CANNING FINISH ON A HIGH (with Phil Unsworth)
A trio of first half goals enabled Canning City to defeat third-placed Wanneroo City 3-1 at Kingsway Reserve. The visitors opened their account after just 3 minutes with Andrew Keary lashing a low shot which bounced in front of goalkeeper Clint Davies before sneaking inside the post. Not content with a one-goal lead, Canning widened the gap in the 12th minute with Billie Rickman driving into the roof of the net after Keary’s long throw was helped on at the near post. Wanneroo should have been back in the game on when Guy McDonald was played through but the striker shot wide. Halftime was five minutes away when Rickman played an angled pass in to Daniel Trevisiol, who headed in at close-range after Davies blocked his shot.
The second half started with both teams having even shares of possession with neither able to stamp control over proceedings. But it wasn’t through a lack of trying that there was no addition to the score line with Trevisiol and Rickman going close for the visitors while down the other end Guy McDonald and David Herety was denied by Stuart Delgarno. Wanneroo grabbed what amounted to a consolation goal in the 70th minute when Brad McDonald’s 30-metre shot flew into the corner of the net with Delgarno rooted to his line. The closing minutes saw further opportunities for Brad McDonald and Trevisiol to add to their respective teams’ tallies without success. The win was a fitting way for Canning to farewell Billy Russell and Tom Kilkelly, who have declined the opportunity to coach the club into 2011.
FORRESTFIELD SNEAK INTO FOURTH
Forrestfield United grabbed fourth in Division One after defeating Fremantle Spirit 4-1 at Wauhop Park. It took only 8 minutes for Jamie Burns to fire Forrestfield into the lead, the young striker finishing a great move stemming from midfield. However, Fremantle quickly regained their composure and three minutes later Anthony Fearon finished powerfully after being played through. The visitors hit back through Kaan Karacan who scored their second on 18 minutes following great work by Burns.
Forrestfield held sway over their young opponents throughout the second half. Kynon Melling put away their third on 68 minutes from close-range to effectively end the game as a contest. Burns was presented a great chance to add another but was denied by a terrific reflex save from goalkeeper Jake Sacco. However, with seven minutes remaining Burns found the net for the 21st time this season when he put away a teasing cross from the right. The win jumps Forrestfield over eastern corridor rivals Gosnells City and into fourth on the final table.
DJULBIC PRIMED FOR GLORY UPSET
Defender Dino Djulbic believes Gold Coast United's meticulous preparation has primed them for an upset victory over his former club, Perth Glory, at Perth Oval tomorrow. Gold Coast enter the round sitting second from bottom but Djulbic said his new club, who have already had two byes, paid little attention to the standings. "We've played only three games and momentum has gone out the window because of the byes," Djulbic told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper.
Gold Coast, who have just two points from their first three games, have done their homework on tomorrow's opponent. "It's time to get that first win," said Djulbic, who played 27 times for Glory over two seasons. "For two weeks we've just concentrated on Glory. It's been hammered into us and all the boys are ready for this. We are coming there to get three points. We've had a slow start and we want to make up some ground."
Djulbic, who had an injury-hampered spell at German club Rot Weiss Ahlen after leaving Glory in January 2009, knows he will have his hands full coping with Glory's strike pairing of Robbie Fowler and Mile Sterjovski. "Fowler likes the ball into his feet and Mile is the opposite. He wants the ball in behind," Djulbic said. "They are two different players and it works well for Glory. It's going to be tough for us but I like to play against big players. It brings the best out of me."
GIANTS MEET AT MACEDONIA PARK
The thrill and excitement of finals football begins this weekend with the opening two games of the All Flags Finals Series. The top five series commences with tomorrow’s Qualifying Final between giants of the local scene, Stirling Lions and Perth SC at Macedonia Park (2.00pm). Very little separated these teams when they met in mid-season, Perth winning 2-0 away in Round Eleven with Stirling claiming a 1-0 victory in the return match just seven days later.
Stirling were denied regular season honours when held to a pulsating 2-2 draw by Western Knights last time out, a result which secured the team from Nash Field back-to-back Minor Premierships and a bye this week. Coach Paul Lincoln has a near full strength squad to draw upon with import defender Jason Gavin and lively wide player Roberto Lujan set to return to the line-up after time out with injury.
The fact Stirling has not lost in four games has Lincoln full of confidence his troops will withstand whatever Perth throws at them. “Not finishing top (of the table) is actually better for us as it allows us to maintain our momentum,” said the Stirling coach. “We have beaten Perth this season and we’re confident that we can win at home on Saturday. We expect a hard game, Perth are a good team and have finals experience.”
Perth’s run in to the finals is in marked contrast to their opponents. With three regular season games to play Graham Normanton’s side were top of the table and seemingly set for the Minor Premiership. However, successive home losses to Balcatta then Swan United saw them slip off the pace before a solid Round Twenty-two win at Armadale secured the Blues third on the table.
For Perth to stand any chance of being crowned State Champions for the second year running they will need peak performances from Shaun Kilkelly, Dom De Felice and Andreas Oliveira. Unfortunately, their chances this weekend have been dented by the loss to Matt Danskin (shoulder) and Craig Simpson (suspended) while captain Robbie Puca is in doubt due to a hamstring problem.
The game is likely to be won and lost in the middle of the park where Stirling captain Shane Robinson comes up against Perth’s playmaker Antonio Naglieri. Kilkelly will have the difficult task of keeping tabs on star striker Mario Marcinko, while at the opposite end of the ground Ian McMurray will be doing all he can to get the better of Bobby Wilson. The winning team goes on to play Western Knights in next weeks Major Semi-Final.
FLOREAT OR JOONDALUP 90 MINUTES AWAY FROM MOTHBALLS
Tomorrow evenings’ sudden-death Elimination Final brings together Floreat Athena and ECU Joondalup for the second time in eight days at Litis Stadium 6.00pm. Joondalup snuck into the top five series by demolishing Floreat by four goals in that final round win and, understandably, enter the afternoon as favourites. However, Floreat are still smarting from that heavy loss and will very much be a team out for revenge.
Joondalup’s three-man forward line of Jamie Watt, Phil O’Callaghan and John Thornley have had no problems finding the back of the net this season, the trio hitting just under 50 goals between them. Team captain Dale McCulloch and his midfield partner Scott Blackmore have key roles to play for coach Syd Amphlett, who had Jake Benson-Cooper (stomach bug) and Dan Allen (back) missing from training during the week.
Amphlett is treating the game as a Cup Final. “Floreat are a quality side but we have trained well this week … every game is a Cup Final,” he said. “We all know we are unlikely to repeat last week but a win on penalties will still take us through and we are prepared for that. This team will battle to the end as we have shown in many games. We have beaten all the sides above us and have no reason to fear anyone at the moment.”
Ante Kovacevic has worked his players hard in training this week as he considers how to tame the Joondalup attack. Adam Bachiller, John Migas and Julian Madaschi will be vital figures for the home team who need Johny Mirco and Branimir Mikulic to turn it on in the final third. Their only absence is likely to be Daniel Neiderberger, who limped out of last week’s game with a minor groin complaint.
Assistant coach Taki Nicolaidis is looking for a much-improved display from his team to keep Floreat’s season alive. “It’s finals football and our players shouldn’t need any bigger incentive to turn things around,” he said. “We are all disappointed with last weeks performance and need to get back to our best if we are to progress in this years finals series.”
This game has a number of key match-ups, none more so than Mirco against Ross Anderson. John Higgins and Adam Bachiller will be another intriguing personal battle out wide, while Madaschi will have to keep a very close eye on O’Callaghan if Floreat are to come out on top. The winner progresses to play the loser of Stirling and Perth in next week’s Minor Semi-Final, and will have to win four successive games to be crowned State Champions.
DIVISION ONE IN PREVIEW
It’s going to take a meltdown of monumental proportions to deny Bayswater City the Division One crown. Bayswater’s final round assignment has them needing just a point from their game with Rockingham City at Lark Hill Sportsplex (5.00pm) to secure the trophy. It appears Mauro Marchione’s biggest problem is going to be fitting Rodrigo Aguirre and Gustavo Muralanda into his eleven after time out due to suspension and injury respectively. Rockingham will be depleted for the occasion with Adam Bremner, Richard Lacey (both suspended) and Craig Olejnik (family) missing while Darren Lawlor and Matt Leckenby are also in doubt.
Marc Wingell will part company with Dianella White Eagles following tomorrow afternoon’s home date with Bunbury Forum Force, who remain an outside chance to gain promotion. But for that to happen Bunbury must beat Dianella and hope Bayswater implode at Rockingham. Canning City will also farewell their coaches, Billy Russell and Tom Kilkelly, on their trip to Wanneroo City. Russell and Kilkelly have worked wonders with a new-look squad this season and are confident of getting a result against a Wanneroo side missing Chris Pugh, Jay McDonald (both work) and Brian Cairney (suspended).
Ashfield have David Gordon and Trevor Hatton back for the visit of fourth-placed Gosnells City. Jamie Burns will be looking to add a few more to the nineteen he’s scored so far this season when Forrestfield United takes on Fremantle Spirit at Wauhop Park. An accumulation of yellow card prevents Morley Windmills’ leading goal scorer, Blaz Radinovic, from featuring in their home game with Queens Park, who have Carlito Anthony and Wazingwa Mugala out through suspension. The five afternoon games start at 3.00pm.
WILSON LOOKING FOR THE DOUBLE
The disappointment of missing out on regular season honours will drive Stirling Lions on to Grand Final glory according to defender Bobby Wilson. Stirling were pipped at the post by Western Knights but are geared up to bounce straight back into the winners circle when they face Perth SC in Saturday's Qualifying Final. "We are more than capable enough of adding to our State League Cup success," the imposing defender said. "Although we have a tough run to the title, to be the best you need to beat the best so going up against Knights and Perth is a perfect way to do it."
Wilson, a former professional with Notts County, expects the weekend home fixture against Perth to be a good test of his teams mettle. "Perth is always a tough outfit and I'm sure they will step up to the big game and give us a very tough game," he said. "They have a good all round squad so every player is a danger, although we have just as much quality - if not more - so they should more worried about what we will bring to the game."
Wilson is hopeful Jason Gavin, whose previous clubs include Middlesbrough and Bradford City, will return to the Stirling line-up for the finals. The pair formed a strong understanding at the back before Gavin succumbed to injury at the beginning of August. "Jason is a very key player to our defence and our team," commented Wilson. "He brings experience and quality to the line-up, I think it's partly what we have missed out on since his injury happened."
Playing for Stirling has been an enjoyable experience for Wilson, and one he is keen to repeat. "Since my move from the England I have enjoyed everyday here in Perth," he said. "It was a big decision to head 'down under' but I'm very glad I made the effort to come here. I'm hoping to stay in Perth next season and if Stirling is willing to have me back then I would be keen to stay. We will see how it all turns out but I would love to play in Australia again next season."
‘DEVASTATED’ HUGO CONSIDERS HIS PLAYING FUTURE
Long-time goalkeeper of Swan United, Corey Hugo, is “absolutely devastated” by his club’s relegation from the Premier League. Hugo, the black and whites first choice ‘keeper for the past eleven years, is still coming to terms with Swan finishing at the bottom of the table and the prospect of not being part of the top flight. “I’m absolutely devastated for the boys and the club,” said the one-time State custodian. “I have spent most of my years at Swan and know that it means so much to the club to be involved in the Premier League and knowing we won’t be there next year is hard to accept.”
Hugo, 31, is putting some serious thought into his playing future as a consequence of Swan dropping out of the top flight. “I’m not sure what the future holds. I have a little daughter now and looking to add to the family soon, so I’ll have to sit down with my wife and see what suits the family,” he said. “I would still like to keep playing but aren’t sure what that means at the moment. Staying at Swan would be the ideal, I love the club and the people also and that would make it hard to leave. But on the other hand I have only a few good years left in me and want to play at the highest level I can.”
Swan entered last weekend’s final round knowing they had to win in order to avoid the drop. And although they threw everything they could at Balcatta the one thing Swan couldn’t do was put the ball in the back of the net. “We played well against Balcatta and had some good chances to win the game, but if you don’t convert those critical chances then you don’t win games,” Hugo said of the scoreless draw. “We gave everything we had but it wasn’t enough and that’s all you can ask. I’m proud of the way the boys fought for survival right to the very end and we just weren’t able to get the job done for the club.”
Hugo says numerous factors contributed to Swan’s relegation. “We are a pretty young team and so consistency hurt us a bit. We didn’t lose to Perth SC throughout the year and only lost to the Knights by one goal and drew the other but then we lost games we should have won,” he said. “Not winning at home - which is really different to the past Swan teams - certainly played its part, and we were pretty thin with depth at certain times throughout the year with key players such as Brendan Knox, David Perich and Tom Shepherd missing vital games.”
But 2010 hasn’t been all doom and gloom for Swan with Hugo highlighting a number of positives that have come out of the winter. “We won the Spring in the Valley Cup against Perth and made it to the semi-finals of the State League Cup,” he said. “From a playing point of view, some of the younger players have begun to show they will be able to play at league level. Christian Lopez, Liam Boland and Darragh Kinnevey have all shown that they will be important players for Swan over the next few years.”
Relegation hasn’t been kind on those clubs that have dropped down in recent years with many squads splintering as players seek opportunities to remain in the Premier League. Hugo expects Swan to lose a few players but is adamant they have the depth to seriously challenge for top honours in Division One next season. “Swan can definitely bounce back in 2011,” he said. “We have done really well in the Reserves competitions for the last few years and have developed some good young players that have filtered through the system. If some players move on I’m sure the guys that step-up will represent the club well.”
WARD BAFFLED BY VICTORY SNUB
Nick Ward hopes his move to Wellington Phoenix will result in regular game time after finding himself on the outer at Melbourne Victory. Ward played just two minutes of Melbourne's opening four games of the new season and, following discussions with coach Ernie Merrick decided it was time he seek greener pastures. The attack-focused 25-year old was quickly snapped up by Wellington, making his debut a few days later against Perth Glory.
It was after chatting with coach Merrick that Ward felt it was time for change. "I had a few meetings with (Ernie) and he didn’t really give me much of an answer," said Ward. "He said that he wanted to play younger players in front of me and I would have been waiting in the stands or, if anything, coming off the bench. Sometimes you’ve just got to move on. I could have sat in the stands or on the bench at Victory but I want to come and play regular football."
Ward produced a spirited 45-minute performance on debut last week when he replaced an out-of-sorts Tim Brown at half-time against Glory. The attacking midfielder admits he was disappointed he could not help his new team mates gain a rare win away from home. "I thought we could possibly have nicked a draw in the end," he admitted. "I was happy to come on. I tried to do things positively and go forward and try to make something happen but unfortunately we lost."
Ward is unsure whether or not that performance had been good enough to warrant a starting spot against Sydney FC this weekend, although Wellington coach Ricki Herbert seemed happy enough with his new signing's first outing. "He's a great guy and I think he's settled in extremely well. He had two small training sessions (with us before the Perth game). We didn't ask for him to do a lot and I think he stepped up and made a good start," Herbert said.
ATTACK PAID OFF FOR JOONDALUP: MCCULLOCH
ECU Joondalup stormed their way into the top five series with a four-goal final round demolition on Floreat Athena. However, Dale McCulloch expects Saturday’s cut-throat Elimination Final at against the same opponent to be a much different affair. “We came out very attacking on the day and it paid off from start to finish. We all worked hard and stuck to our jobs,” McCulloch said. “It’s important that we get over last weeks win, put in a strong week on the track and to expect a different Floreat side to come out this week. It’s always hard as Floreat will be dying to get out there.”
Floreat were caught off-guard last week by Joondalup’s three-pronged attack of Jamie Watt, Phil O’Callaghan and John Thornley. “They are three very good strikers who all know were the net is. The best thing is that they are very competitive but in the same token not over greedy. They are all in our side to finish games off for us,” said McCulloch, who acknowledged Floreat too have some very dangerous players in the final third. “Jason Barrera is a very good midfielder who always looks lively and Branimir Mikulic has scored a few goals this year. But I’m sure our defenders can handle that again this week.”
McCulloch praised his coach, Syd Amphlett, who has copped a fair degree of criticism this season. “Coming from the presidents position he was always going to get some stick from people but he has stuck to the task and it is starting to take shape,” McCulloch said. “We haven’t made finals since 2004, so we surely have improved. Syd is a very passionate man who makes the hard decisions when they have to be made, and he has the respect of every player at the club. So to get us to the finals he must be up for coach of the year!”
Having qualified for the finals, McCulloch says Joondalup will be going for broke as they have nothing to lose. “We have beaten all sides above us in the league this year so we don’t fear anyone. Coming fifth (in the league) there is no expectations on us so we will go out there to play to our system and see how everything pans out,” McCulloch said. “Playing in the finals doesn’t happen very often for us so the boys will be buzzing to get out there Saturday and show the rest of the league that we deserve our place.”
KILKELLY TO LAME THE LIONS
A hard fought win away at Armadale last week provided Perth SC the ideal preparation for Saturday’s Qualifying Final against Stirling Lions according to Blues defender Shaun Kilkelly. An early Ian McMurray goal was enough to earn Perth the three points and set up this weekend’s showdown with State League Cup winners Stirling. “It was a huge win last week. We knew going into the game that Armadale were fighting for a top five place, and with us not winning in the last two games it was vital to come away with the points,” he said. “As we knew it was a tough place to go, so a 1-0 result was excellent.”
Kilkelly, who moved to Dorrien Gardens last summer from Sorrento, is well aware he faces a long and difficult afternoon at Macedonia Park. “This game is massive - whoever wins plays the Minor Premiers (Western Knights) for a spot in the final,” commented Kilkelly, who has been one of the first names on coach Graham Normanton’s team sheet this season. “It is also Stirling verses Perth - these games have been massive for years. The two league games this year were tight, and I’m sure this week will be the same.”
Kilkelly could not have hoped for a better debut season with Perth. “My time at Perth has been fantastic. Winning a trophy in the Night Series and having a shot at another Premiership with another club is great,” Kilkelly said. “I won the league at Sorrento and I left a lot of friends at Percy Doyle Reserve, I really enjoyed my time there. But when the chance to move to Perth came about it was one I couldn’t turn down. The boys at Perth have been great and made me feel at home.”
Injury hasn’t been kind to Perth with Greg Sharland and Aaron Cole missing much of the season out while a number of other regulars have spent time on the sidelines with various ailments. In another test of depth and character, flying winger Matt Danskin has been ruled out for the finals series following shoulder surgery. “Aaron and Greg have been massive blows; they are both fantastic players for us. Now with losing Matty it going to show the depth in our squad, but I’m confident we can get a result on Saturday,” commented Kilkelly.
Perth will have to be on top of their game if they’re to claim victory against a star-studded Stirling line-up on Saturday. “They are a strong side all over the park. Shane Robinson and Ludovic Boi have been good in the middle this season, while former Perth striker Phil Arnold and Mario Marcinko are a couple we need to close down,” Kilkelly said. “Defensively, Jason Gavin and Bobby Wilson are both good players and with all of them playing aboard or with Perth Glory youth, they have a great deal of experience.”
BALCATTA REWARDED FOR FAIR PLAY
Balcatta have been rewarded for going through the season without having a player sent off by winning the 2010 Fair Play award. Balcatta, last year’s Division One winners, picked up the fewest penalty points during the recently completed home and away series to land the award which is accompanied by $2,000 prize money. “Balcatta’s win of the 2010 Fair Play award shows that teams can be rewarded for acting in the appropriate manner on the pitch,” said Eddie Lennie, Football West Referee Development Manager. “Off the pitch is another area, but we aim to create an enjoyable environment for the referee, players and spectators in general. Football should be able to be appreciated by all without abuse, and that is what the Respect campaign is all about.”
AUSTRALIA EDGE POLAND
A ten-man Socceroos has stood firm to hold out a marauding Poland to record a 2-1 friendly win at the Wisla Krakow Stadium last night. Goals by Brett Holman and Luke Wilkshire were enough to see Australia home despite the sending off of Brett Emerton and a penalty save by Adam Federici. Socceroos captain Lucas Neill was pleased with his team's spirit in holding on for the win. "The character and the determination we showed were great signs," Neill said. "We still have a lot to work on, we are not going to kid ourselves ... Still a lot to learn, a lot to work at but the talent is there and the potential there."
After weathering a front of early Polish pressure, Australia took the lead after 13 minutes. Neill showed vision to find Wilkshire wide on the right with his cutback collected by Holman who deftly touched the ball past two opponents before firing beyond goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton. But Australia's joy lasted just four minutes, Robert Lewandowski steering a low cross from the left by Sebastian Boenisch past Adam Federici.
Australia re-established their lead when Wilkshire converted from the spot after Richard Garcia was felled inside the 18-yard box by Michal Zewlakow in the 24th minute. Federici kept the visitors in front three minutes by moving to his left to block Lewandowski's tame penalty kick awarded for Jon McKain's foul on Jakub Blaszczykowski.
Federici was in the thick of the action as Poland pushed for a second half equaliser. A Lewandowski cross was just out of reach of Blaszczykowski, who shortly after was denied by the Socceroos custodian. Poland were given extra impetus when Emerton was issued two yellow cards in as many seconds to leave Australia a man down for the final nineteen minutes. The hosts had their chances to draw level but Euzebiusz Smolarek placed wide from 6-metres while Federici denied Lewandowski to give new Socceroos Holger Osieck his first win in charge.
COCKBURN TOO GOOD FOR RELEGATION: PERIERA
Anthony Periera never once believed Cockburn City would be relegated from the Premier League. The hard-working midfielder’s faith in his team was borne out last weekend when the Cockerels secured a 37th successive season of top flight football by defeating Mandurah City. “I always believed we wouldn’t get relegated, even at the half way mark,” he said. “Looking at our squad we had too much talent. We stuck together and worked hard at training and it paid off towards the end.”
Periera admits there were a few nerves in the rooms as a second-from-bottom Cockburn prepared to play Mandurah. “We knew the game against Mandurah was going to be tough. A few of the boys were nervous before the game but once we got out there everything seem to fall into place,” said Periera, whose first half finish was added to in stoppage time by Rory Feely. “You could tell what it meant to the players and clubs supporters after the game when we headed back to our training club and had a massive party.”
The 2010 Premier League was one of the tightest in years with four clubs - Cockburn, Inglewood United, Mandurah and Swan United - in the relegation mix leading in to the final day of competition. “I’ve been playing in this league for a while and I’ve never seen a finish like it,” said Periera, who played several years at Fremantle City prior to joining Cockburn in 2005. “It’s good to see the league getting tighter and every team can beat each other on the day.”
Cockburn unearthed some rare gems this season in the form of Feely, a goal scorer of immense potential, and goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic. Periera says both who have a big roles to play in the future of his club. “Rory and Dejan have been absolutely outstanding this year,” he commented. “Rory’s pace and knack of finding goals when we needed them helped us in the second half of the season. Dejan has saved us many times, against Balcatta he saved two penalties and has kept us in some important games.”
FOWLER PUTS GLORY BEFORE GOALS
Star striker Robbie Fowler wanted more goals from his first five matches but is content to share the scoring load with his Perth Glory teammates. Fowler snared his first Glory goal from open play in Sunday's win over Wellington Phoenix just a week after opening his account from the penalty spot against Melbourne Heart. "I'm really happy with the way I've started the season," he told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "If I'm being honest I probably would've liked to have scored more goals but I've done all right."
Glory are level with Adelaide United at the top of the table after an unbeaten five-game start to the campaign. Fowler, whose goalscoring contribution has added to that of Mile Sterjovski and Branko Jelic, has also brought a touch of class to Glory's front third with some defence-splitting passes. "I think we've shared the goals out quite well this year," Fowler said. "Branko's scored two, I've scored two, Mile's scored three and long may it continue for the season."
Fowler denied his second-half header in the 2-1 win over the Phoenix had boosted his confidence and has refused to consider himself under pressure to score. "It's not important for my confidence. There's nothing wrong with my confidence," he said. "It's obviously always nice scoring goals but I'm a team player and if the teams winning I'm more than happy with that." Fowler did not train yesterday but is confident he will be ready to line-up against Gold Coast United on Sunday.
STATE SQUADS SELECTED FOR YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIPS
Western Australia's squads for the upcoming National Youth Championships have been finalised. The championships, a week-long tournament, aims to identify future national team players, and also provides players an opportunity to be showcase their talents in front of A-League coaching staff and selectors from the Australian Institute of Sport. This year's tournament is being held in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, starting 28 September.
As has been the case for several years now, Western Australia will field teams in the Under-14 and Under-15 age groups. The Under-14's will play Victoria Metro, New South Wales Metro, Northern New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland Metro in the group phase. The Under-15 squad has been allocated a group spot alongside New South Wales Metro, South Australia, Victoria Metro, Northern New South Wales and Capital Football. Both State squads depart Perth on 27 September.
Warren Grieve, coach of the Under-14's, says it was an extremely difficult process selecting only sixteen players for each team. "The preparation has been very good as most of the boys have been in the Football West High Performance Centre all year which has given us a solid foundation," he said. "The players have worked really hard and are relishing the opportunity to play against some of the best players in the country."
Also travelling to the tournament are teenage referees Zach Piccicacco (15) and Bryce Evans (17). "I am delighted to have two of our up-and-coming referees being selected," said Eddie Lennie, Referee Development Manager with Football West. "This should serve as an inspiration to other young officials, as both guys have shown a great level of commitment this year. This is a good opportunity to learn and be seen by other referee coaches and their selection is reward for their hard work."
The 2010 State Under-14 squad for the National Youth Championships features Leo Athanasiou, Mohamed Beyan, Jesse Lazzaro, Matthew Akerman, Ryan Barker (Cockburn City), Ben Hombert (Floreat Athena), Joshua Tucker, Matthew Ntoumenopoulos (ECU Joondalup), Rocco Pizzata, Jeremy Tshongo (Perth SC), Daniel Passareli, Gareth Crawley, Daniel DeSilva, Jack Iredale, Pearse McKee (Stirling Lions) and Harry Hawkins (Wanneroo City). Travelling with the squad are Warren Grieve (coach), Darren Young (assistant coach), Paul Turvill (team manager) and Nafyn Pattiaratchi (physiotherapist).
The 2010 Under-15 squad for the National Youth Championships is Ogi Lalovic (Inglewood United), Nicholas Ambrogio, Daniel Buhagiar, Jacob Collard, Kieran Colwell, Matthew Davies, Scott Galloway, Luke Radonich, Callum Richardson, Slobodan Vulin, Riley Woodcock (National Training Centre), Bor Bor Sam, Lawrence Shuruma, Alexsandar Suleski (Noranda), Guy Kalma (Perth SC) and Jordan Franken (Sorrento). Travelling with the squad are Kenny Weston (coach), Cris Ola (assistant coach), Dave Whalley (team manager) and Nafyn Pattiaratchi (physiotherapist).
STERJOVSKI FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS
A fitter, faster and stronger Mile Sterjovski is living up to his pre-season promise, despite the ankle injury that threatened to stifle his momentum just three games into the new A-League season. Dogged by a back problem last season, the one-time Socceroos striker vowed to do better and made a flying start with two goals in as many matches before buckling under a tackle against Newcastle Jets. He missed the away draw with Melbourne Heart but was back with a bang with a man-of-the-match performance against Wellington Phoenix on Sunday.
Any doubts about the 31-year old's readiness to return were blown away in the opening minutes against Wellington when he made a defence-busting run to tap in Todd Howarth's intelligent pass for the opening goal. "I've been feeling much better than I did last year and it comes down to a very good pre-season," Sterjovski said. "I'm really enjoying my football and I'm enjoying my time here so it all comes together and I think that shows in my performance ... There was a lot of things going on last year that not many people know about but it's all done now and I can just concentrate on my football."
TRIO GO FOR BROKE IN QUEST FOR GREEN AND GOLD
Mark Birighitti, Ryan Edwards and Eli Babalj will press their claim for a spot in Australia’s Under-20 squad during a three-day training camp in Sydney this week. Young Socceroos coach Jan Versleijen will cast a watchful eye over eighteen locally based players during this weeks camp, which includes a friendly against A-League club Sydney FC, as he prepares to name his squad for the AFC Under-19 Championships in China next month.
Versleijen is looking forward to working with the eighteen locally-based players. “This is the last time we can work together before the AFC Championships,” said Versleijen. “For me, it will be a good opportunity to see how the players are performing after five weeks of A-League competition. For some players this camp is the last chance to prove that they deserve to be in the final squad that goes to the tournament.”
The Young Socceroos called into camp are Mark Birighitti, Mathew Leckie (Adelaide United), Ryan Edwards (Australian Institute of Sport), Matthew Acton, Daniel Bowles (Brisbane Roar), Mustafa Amini, Sam Gallagher, Nikola Stanojevic, Marc Warren (Central Coast Mariners), Benjamin Halloran, Steven Lustica (Gold Coast United), Eli Babalj, Brendan Hamill, Kliment Taseski (Melbourne Heart), Ben Kantarovski (Newcastle Jets), Terry Antonis, Kofi Danning and Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC).
FOWLER EXTENDS UNBEATEN START
A goal apiece from strike duo Mile Sterjovski and Robbie Fowler steered Perth Glory to a deserved 2-1 victory over Wellington Phoenix at Perth Oval this afternoon. The result keeps David Mitchell's men at the top of the A-League ladder alongside Adelaide United. "We made it hard for ourselves because we created enough chances but didn't capitalise on them," said Mitchell after the game. "Credit to Wellington, they through everyone up front and got an equaliser from a corner which made it a tight finish."
Glory were swiftly into stride and within 5 minutes were a goal to the good courtesy of a superb team move. Steve McGarry played the ball out of defence to Robbie Fowler, his sublime lofted pass from the half way line was into the path of Todd Howarth who lured goalkeeper Mark Paston before squaring unselfishly for Mile Sterjovski to side-foot in from just inside the 18-yard box. Naum Sekulovski had the ball in the net again soon after but his effort was disallowed for off-side.
The visitors steadied their ship and gradually gained a foothold, Daniel called Tando Velaphi into action for the first time before Paul Ifill's follow-up was blocked by Sekulovski. Glory continued to look the more dangerous and as half-time neared they went close to scoring three times in two minutes. Fowler miscued after fine approach work by Sterjovski, Jacob Burns forced a fine one-handed save from Paston and Sekulovksi's glancing header was wide after meeting a cross from Adriano Pellegrino.
Wellington coach Rikki Herbert brought on Mirjan Pavlovic and Nick Ward for the half second and switched to a more attcking 4-3-3 formation. But it was Glory that created the chances with Daniel heading a Sterjovski corner off the line and Sekulovksi firing just over from the edge of the area. The home team got the goal they deserved just after the hour when Sterjovski floated an inch-perfect cross into the box which Fowler headed powerfully past a helpless goalkeeper.
To their credit, Wellington refused to concede the game and on 72 minutes grabbed a lifeline as Ifill's corner evaded Velaphi and defender Ben Sigmund gleefully headed into the roof of the net. Glory immediately brought on Anthony Skorich who almost netted with his first touch but Paston tipped his shot wide. Chances kept flowing with Paston denying Howarth before Velaphi responded smartly to Chris Greenacre's close-range effort. After that the home side locked down their defensive third to ensure the three points remained in Perth.
GLORY SHOULD HAVE SCORED MORE: MITCHELL
David Mitchell felt Perth Glory's margin of victory should have been greater with chances not taken during this afternoon's 2-1 home defeat of Wellington Phoenix. Mile Sterjovski gave Glory an early lead with Robbie Fowler adding a second in the second half before Phoenix responded through Ben Sigmund. "We made it hard for ourselves I think," admitted Mitchell. "We created quite a few chances. We didn't capitalise on them and Wellington always had a lot of threat in their side and as soon as they got the goal back it was like, sit on your seat and hold on 'cause they threw a lot of balls into the box and they could have bounced anywhere."
As has been the case many times over the past few years, Glory fans were left on the edge of their seats as Wellington launched a series of late raids. "We scored the second goal (and) we thought we've got the game won now, because we've been good at keeping clean sheets at certain times. Obviously we didn't and that's something to address," added Mitchell. "When you've been so dominant and create so many chances - and we didn't put them to the sword - that's when it comes back to bite you on the backside. That could have happened today and fortunately it didn't."
DRAW ENOUGH TO SEAL KNIGHTS TOP SPOT
Western Knights completed the Premier League season in top spot after playing out a thrilling 2-2 draw with second-placed Stirling Lions at Macedonia Park. As the game heading towards stoppage time Stuart Montgomery appeared to have earned the Knights all three points, however, the drama was far from over as Ludovic Boi scored a stunning equaliser just a minute later.
A tense start to the afternoon had both defences stand up to constant probbing. Stirling showed the greater endevour with their quick movement of the ball getting them behind the visiting defence on several occasions, but each time Stuart Ferguson was there to clear the danger. David Price registered the first shot on goal after 21 minutes, the midfielder driving unchallenged out of midfield before unleashing a vicious shot which rose just over the crossbar from 16-metres.
Mario Marcinko squandered a golden opportunity at the other end five minutes later when he snatched at a Shane Robinson free-kick. On the half hour it was Marcinko again that should have found the net but instead scooped over the bar on the end of a flowing move involving Stef Frost, Robinson and Paul Dickson. Anthony Campbell wasted a great chance by firing wide when the better option would have been to centre for an unmarked Daniel Micevski. The half ended with Phil Arnold’s shot from an acute angle dipping just past the far top corner.
The Knights were quick to assert control after the turnaround, David Micevski shooting into the side netting on the end of a surging run. Montgomery dinked high after being found by Price, and two minutes later Dickson cut out Daniel Micevski’s low cross intended for Simon Versaico. Stirling’s best moves may have been breaking down in the final third but they were by no means out of the contest. Just after the hour Robinson’s corner was perfectly delivered for Frost, who failed to connect by the narrowest of margins.
The deadlock was broken on 69 minutes when Boi’s trickery took him inside the area before feeding the ball to Marcinko who measured shot was across Fraser Siddall and inside the far bottom corner. The Knights returned fire immediately with Price bagging a brilliant solo goal, the midfielder going past several opponents before drilling beyond James Turvill from 15-metres. The two teams traded attacks throughout the remaining minutes with Stirling going close to scoring several times but on each occasion thwarted by Siddall.
The 92nd minute had just ticked by when David Micevski skipped past three opponents to go inside the area where he flicked the ball across for Montgomery to side-foot in what appeared the winner from a few metres. But two minutes later Boi collected the ball wide on the left and from 25-metres lifted his shot well clear of Siddall and into the far top corner to make it two-all. Siddall ensured the game would end that way when he held a powerful Scott Muirhead drive just moments before referee Mihcael Tolmie whistled for the past time.
JOONDALUP SNEAK INTO FINALS BY DUMPING FLOREAT
ECU Joondalup handed out a 5-1 thrashing to Floreat Athena to force their way into the Top Five play-offs for the first time in six years. Jamie Watt led the way with a double as Scott Blackmore, Phil O’Callaghan and John Thornley also found the net to overpower the home team, whose goal was a late consolation scored by Branimir Mikulic. “We had a plan today and fortunately it came off for us … I’m delighted,” said Joondalup coach Steve Amphlett, whose plan to play with three strikers worked a treat. “The three lads played great today, and I’ve said all season that the club has the three best strikers in the league and today showed why.”
Floreat struggling to deal with their opponents three-pronged attack from the outset and on 9 minutes alex Dunn was called on to save a low shot by Watt from 10-metres. The visitors deservedly went ahead on the quarter hour after good approach work on the left by Jon Higgins led to O’Callaghan laying the ball off for Blackmore to lash in from the edge of the 18-yard box. There was no respite for a Floreat defence under pressure as four minutes later Watt’s cross from the right found Higgins whose back post volley was well saved by Dunn.
The home team threatened for the first time on 24 minutes when Daniel Neiderberger’s long-range effort was blocked by Charlie Comyn-Platt, Johny Mirco pounced on the loose ball but his follow-up shot was pushed away by Andy Petterson. Joondalup tightened their hold over the game by pilling on two goals in three minutes. Chris Wylie’s through ball released O’Callaghan who cut n from the left to fired into Dunn’s net after 29 minutes. And it was soon three-nil as O’Callaghan and Thornley combined to send clear Watt to fire in from 9-metres.
The second half was two minutes old when Mirco fired past Petterson from 6-metres only for Comyn-Platt to prevent the shot from entering the net. Petterson came to his teams’ rescue moments later by saving at the second attempt a John Migas’ shot from 11-metres. These misses would haunt Floreat as, in the 52nd minute, Comyn-Platt threaded down the left for Higgins whose cross was turned in at the near post by Watt. Although stunned, Floreat were straight back into attack with Neiderberger’s long-range shot saved by Petterson, and Migas put the follow-up over the crossbar.
Substitute Emmanuel Rivera flashed the ball wide as Floreat sought a miracle, and ten minutes later Adam Bachiller’s low attempt was narrowly past the far post. There was no such wastefulness from Joondalup and on 83 minutes Mark Tebbutt played a lovely ball over the defence which Thornley struck low last Dunn to make it five-nil. Floreat grabbed their consolation with two minutes remaining, Mikulic netting from close-range after meeting a low Migas cross from the left. Substitute Jake Benson-Cooper almost put a sixth on Joondalup’s tally when his shot from the edge of the box crashed off the crossbar.
INGLEWOOD PULL OFF THE GREAT ESCAPE (with Ann Odong, Football West)
Goals either side of the break by Danny Stoitis and Adrian Caceres allowed Inglewood United to claim a 2-1 win over Sorrento in their final round Premier League meeting at Percy Doyle Reserve. The final whistle sparked scenes of wild celebrations from Inglewood, who secured their place in the top flight by finishing three points above the relegation zone. However, there were only long faces for Sorrento whose hopes of featuring in the play-offs were snuffed out by the loss.
Inglewood started brightly with Alex Stamatiadis controlling proceedings centrally and Adrian Caceres causing problems for Sorrento out wide. The visitors got their first sight of goal in the 7th minute when Rory Grant honoured Ryan Clarke’s run but Curtis Aspden was alert to the danger and quickly closed down the shot. Ten minutes later Aspden was called upon again, this time to palm over the crossbar a curling free-kick by Caceres.
Sorrento didn’t really come to life until midway through the half when Jason Mirco began to have greater influence over proceedings. Their first chance on goal came through Mirco on 32 minutes with the midfielder playing neatly into the path of Darryl Platten whose shot forced Oliver Taseski into action. Brodie Martin shot across the face of goal before Todd Harnwell’s dangerous ball to the top of the 18-yard box was cleared as Sorrento built momentum. The was turned on its head in the 43rd minute when Stoitis timed his run to perfection to head in a Caceres’ free-kick swung to the back post.
A goal down and with their finals hopes slipping away, Sorrento came out for the second half energised. Parity was very nearly restored seven minutes in when Cameron Yorke got on the end of Mirco’s corner to the back post only to see it cleared off the line. Inglewood responded to the increased intensity and just after the hour Sandi Loncar cut in from out wide before letting fire a shot that was tipped away from the target by Aspden. Six minutes later there was nothing the Gulls’ custodian could do as Caceres, surrounded by a mass of bodies, somehow managed to get off a shot which flew low into the net to make it two-nil.
James Morgan, Mirco and Harnwell stepped up the pace as Sorrento attempted to salvage the game, and their season. Harnwell went close to pulling a goal back by getting enough purchase on a deep Platten cross to spring Taseski into action at the near post. Jake Geddes had his shot beaten away by Aspden in the 75th minute after being set-up by Loncar as Inglewood sought a third goal. But it was Sorrento that found the net five minutes later when Morgan whipped in a cross which substitute Jared Love powerfully headed past Taseski at the near post.
This set up a tense final few minutes in which Sorrento sought desperately to equalise while Inglewood attempted to hold their now slender lead. Love went close again, nipping in behind the defence to meet a speculative ball that Taseski came off his line to capture. The Inglewood custodian was required again minutes, holding a powerful Mirco under pressure on the line. Referee David Scragg ignored appeals for a stoppage time a penalty when Love went down inside the area in the games final attacking play.
Shane Pryce, coach of Inglewood, had nothing but praise for the way his players responded under immense pressure. “I’m just so proud of what every single player gave me today and I couldn’t ask for more,” he said. “We defended with all our ability and all the adulation goes to the players. It meant a lot and they showed it meant a lot out on that field and that’s why we got through.”
FEELY SECURES COCKBURN’S FUTURE (by Murray Stevens, Football West)
Cockburn City will play next season in the Premier League after defeating Mandurah City 2-0 at Dalmatinac Park. Anthony Pereira gave the home crowd something to cheer about midway through the first half with young gun Rory Feely securing the win in stoppage time to leap Cockburn out of the relegation zone on the final day of the season. “There were no passengers today and that’s what’s carried us through,” declared Cockburn boss Tony Castiello. “When I arrived at the club we set a target of 25 points and we’ve achieved that today.”
Jeff Bright’s electric pace and willingness to run at goal caused the home defence no end of troubles early on as Mandurah quickly settled into the game. But it took until the 19th minute for the visitors to fashion their first genuine chance, Alex Darby getting in behind the defence but, lacking support, his cross was easily cleared. Cockburn threatened six minutes later via a ball over the top intended for Feely which goalkeeper Phil Straker managed to get to first. However, the danger wasn’t yet over and the ball was quickly returned to Cockburn’s attacking third where Shane Nunes’ looping effort from 35-metres was into the crossbar.
Cockburn continued to attack and in the 28th minute a Nunes long ball found Shintaro Ito, who confidently jinxed his way into the box before delivering a ball into Pereira but his close-range effort was blocked. Two minutes later Marc Anthony chipped a pass into the area where Feely flicked the ball on to Pereira who calmly placed past Straker to send the home fans into raptures. Mandurah were in no mood to give up and soon after Christian Paschkewitz’s scrambled shot was put out for a corner. The home side then had a penalty appeal dismissed after Anthony collided with Straker, who had come off his line to push the ball away from the striker’s feet.
Mandurah were presented a great chance to draw level three minutes into the second half when awarded a free-kick just outside the area, however, Jordan Rhodes’ low and hard shot was straight into the gloves of Dejan Aleksic. Cockburn created the better opening with Wesley Britz’s energetic burst into the box halted by Darren Broxton, while a quick corner was flicked just past the target by Jason Dos Santos at the near post. With Mandurah committing players forward, Cockburn sprang on a 92nd minute counter attack which ended with Feely blasting the game’s final touch into the net.
GALLANT SWAN RELEGATED (with Geoff Mason, Football West)
Swan United surrendered their Premier League status when held 0-0 by Balcatta this afternoon at the Swan Italian Club. The black and whites finished season 2010 in last place, one point behind Mandurah City, to bring to an end an eleven-year stay in the top flight. “We battled hard today, but just couldn’t score a goal today. All respect to Balcatta, they came out and gave it a fair effort,” said Swan assistant coach Mick Da Rae. “Obviously we are disappointed, although are draw was a fair result in retrospect. We are hoping most of the boys will stay, but again that is up too them.”
The first opportunity of a fairly even opening half had David McNally pull the ball wide after Balcatta failed to clear their lines from a free-kick. Balcatta’s only chance of half arrived after 20 minutes, Lucas Whitehouse lifting high pouncing on a mistake by Brendon Knox on top of the 18-yard box. The game then didn’t come to life until the closing stages of the half when Swan wasted a trio of chances, starting with a James Sammut effort that was kept out by Bobson Koroma. Tom Shepherd opted to pass instead of shoot at close-range and the chance was lost, then Michael Van Dongen lifted high from 6-metres.
It was only after Knox cleared an Ashley Rosindale’s header off the line in the 70th minute that the second half began to spark. Swan responded with Lopez denied a shot by Adam Tong, and from the resulting corner Knox sent the ball just wide. Balcatta enjoyed the better of late play and Matt Italiano should have done better than fired high after being set-up by Rosindale, who soon after was thwarted at close-range by Corey Hugo. Swan’s final chance to escape relegation came in three minutes into injury time when Lopez jinxed his way past an oncoming defender but placed wide of the target.
FIVE-STAR KARPEH LEADS BAYSWATER TO VICTORY
Bayswater City moved closer to a spot in next seasons’ Premier League by demolishing Fremantle Spirit 6-1 at Frank Drago Reserve. It was a memorable day for striker Kailo Karpeh who bagged five of Bayswater’s six goal with captain Damien Catalano grabbing the remainder. “I’m very happy for the boys (but) we know that is not finished yet,” said Bayswater coach Mauro Marchione. “We are one point away from promotion and know the last game will be as hard as every other we have played this year.”
Fremantle were a team under pressure from the outset as Bayswater stepped onto the park determined to score early. Only 9 minutes were on the clock when Karpeh rifled into the top corner from 18-metres. A cracking Catalano volley doubled the margin four minutes later after a good build-up involving Anthony McStea and Cisco Jorquiera. Joshua Tumoe featured prominently throughout the first half and in the 19th minute beat three opponents before laying off for Karpeh to score his second.
McStea and Catalano continued to press home Bayswater’s advantage after the turnaround. Jorquiera took the ball forward in the 55th minute before transferring possession to McStea, whose through ball allowed Karpeh to complete his hat-trick. Only another three minutes passed Karpeh rounded the goalkeeper to put away the teams’ fifth goal following a tidy one-two between McStea and Alex Caniglia.
Karpeh deservedly put the icing on Bayswater’s cake in the 73rd minute when he latched onto a long through ball by McStea and against beat the ‘keeper. Poor defending allowed an unchallenged Sam Loveless to side-foot in Fremantle’s consolation five minutes later. A final round draw away at Rockingham City will be enough to send Bayswater back into the top flight after a four year absence.
BUNBURY HIT SIX
Bunbury Forum Force ran riot to thrash Rockingham City 6-0 at Hay Park. The result keeps the pressure on top-of-the-table Bayswater City, who sits three points ahead of Bunbury heading into the final round of the season. The ball had been in motion just 4 minutes when Bunbury captain Patrick Quinn’s exquisite chip from 25-metres gave out of position goalkeeper Danny Snelling no chance.
Keiran Kavanagh doubled the margin by heading in a James Bergin cross midway through the half. Rockingham was denied a goal of their own on the half hour by Ryan Montgomery’s save on the line. The ball was soon at the opposite end where Quinn’s long-range strike flew into the top corner, then three minutes later Rory Binnie tucked away the hosts’ fourth goal in a goalmouth scramble.
With the job done, Bunbury eased off after the break but still dominated territorially and in terms of possession. In the 81st minute David Rodgers stroked past goal number five past Snelling after going clear of the visiting defence. Defender Jordan Rispon completed a comfortable win by heading in at the back post with six minutes of regulation time remaining. Bunbury can steal promotion by beating Dianella White Eagles next weekend while hoping Bayswater lose at Rockingham.
BOOYSEN STARS FOR WANNEROO
Wanneroo City wrapped up third place in Division One by downing last-placed Queens Park 5-1 at Coker Park. With captain Brian Cairney out suspended, 18-year old Josh Booysen stepped in to fill the breach with a scintillating four-goal display. It didn’t take long for the home team to be pushed onto the back foot with goalkeeper Brad Eiffe impressively saving from Guy McDonald twice early on. Wanneroo’s reward for an attacking approach to the game came on 14 minutes when Nathan Diaz played a defence splitting pass which ended with Booysen calmly side-footing into the net.
Wanneroo had to wait until twelve minutes into the second half for their next goal, Booysen tapping in at the back post after Jay McDonald flicked on a long throw by Dean Timmings. Queens Park pulled a goal back against the run of play two minutes later with Jason Feather volleying in a superb cross to the far post. Booysen restored his teams’ two-goal buffer from the penalty spot, then added a fourth on 83 minutes by lashing in the rebound from a David Herety shot that hit the post. The visitors final goal arrived soon after when Booysen played through for Herety to finish low past substitute ‘keeper Daniel Brown.
GOSNELLS CAST OFF DIANELLA
Gosnells City completed their home campaign with a 4-0 win over Dianella White Eagles at Walter Padbury Reserve. It was a quite opening of few chances before Gosnells began to spark midway through the half. Their reward arrived on 37 minutes when Daley Rothwell's cross was side-footed in at the back post by Shane Walters. Six minutes later Rothwell widened the margin after capitalising on a defensive error and finishing into the net from 11-metres.
The second half has been underway just a minute when Gosnells posted their third goal, a short corner move catching Dianella by surprise with Adrian McBride rifling into the net from an acute angle. Any hopes the visitors held of a second half revival were effectively snuffed out on 57 minutes when a great build-up featuring Walters and Ian Maguire ended with the latter applying a clinical finish from 8-metres. Dianella pushed hard for a consolation goal but found Dane McBride in terrific form between the posts. Gosnells can secure fourth place by taking out all three points from Ashfield in next week's final game of the season.
ASHFIELD MOVE TO SAFETY AFTER HOLDING CANNING
Ashfield pulled clear of Division One's relegation zone by holding Canning City to a 2-2 draw at Burrendah Reserve. The game was given a crackerjack start when Wayne Culverwell headed in from a Scott McIlroy corner after just 3 minutes. Culverwell very nearly added another soon after with a shot from 18-metres that flashed just wide. Canning responded by sending clear Wesley Ryder but he too placed past the wrong side of the post.
The teams were brought level in the 6th minute when Daniel Trevisiol's pinpoint cross to the back post was knocked in at close-range by Scott Paterson. Canning next threatened on 20 minutes when Paterson's free-kick on the edge of the 18-yard box was tipped around the post by debutant Justin Scavarci. Ashfield regained the upper hand after 28 minutes when Leo Harman waltzed past three defenders before firing into the net from 10-metres.
The second half was a tight affair in which neither team gave so much as an inch. The best of the early chances saw Simon El Chami shoot wide around the hour mark. Canning struck an equaliser in the 68th minute with Billy Rickman scrambling the ball in at the back post after a Trevisiol corner went to feet. The home team went closest to pinching all three points when, in stoppage time, Paterson's free kick crashed of the crossbar. The split points mean no change in either teams placing, Canning remain sixth and Ashfield eleventh with one game to play.
SOCCEROOS DRAW WITH SWITZERLAND
Holger Osieck's first match in charge of the Socceroos ended with a clean sheet as Australia played out a 0-0 draw with Switzerland in their friendly at the AFG-Arena in St Gallen. Australia had plenty of chances to score but were ultimately lucky to come away with the draw after Alexander Frei failed to hit the target from the penalty spot early in the second half. "I thought we played a very good half … we created some very good scoring opportunities (but) we did not have the final touch," said the coach. "Second half, after the Swiss put on the four substitutes, we found it a bit difficult to adjust and our passing became a bit sloppy at times and we lost a bit of the red fire."
The game began frantically with both sides missing chances to take the early lead. Frei blazing over the crossbar with 7 minutes gone, then Lucas Neill wasted a golden opportunity by hooking high from barely a metre after Tim Cahill headed a corner goalward. Albert Bunjaku ghosted in behind the Australia defence but his low shot was saved brilliantly by Mark Schwarzer. Brett Holan had Marco Wolfli scrambling to save on the line, then the goalkeeper parried a Brett Emerton strike into the path of Carl Valeri, who shot over from close-range. The Socceroos went on to control the remainder of the half without creating any further clear-cut openings.
Schwarzer, who was top of his game all evening, showed his athleticism by finger-tipping Xavier Margairaz's header past the post just after the break. The hosts nation were awarded a penalty in the 58th minute after Neill barged into David Degen, but captain Frei failed to capitalise with his spot kick going wide as Schwarzer dived the opposite direction. The Socceroos custodian was down low to his right in keeping out a Degen effort after he burst inside the 18-yard box. Both teams have late chances with substitute Dario Vidosic's header clawed away by Wolfli, whole down the other end Margairaz sent the ball high in stoppage time.
STAR TRIO RETURN
Perth Glory will welcome back star trio Mile Sterjovski, Andy Todd and Jamie Harnwell for tomorrow's A-League encounter against Wellington Phoenix at Perth Oval. The three players missed last weekend's controversial 2-2 draw with Melbourne Heart but coach David Mitchell said they would all play a part against Phoenix. "All three of them are available and there's a good chance they'll all be included," he said.
Mitchell admitted he faced his most testing selection of the season with only the suspended Michael Baird and injured Victor Sikora unavailable. "There'll be a couple of players probably unhappy and that's the beauty of having a good squad," Mitchell said. "We've had some players out last week, players have come in and performed well so it's a good situation to be in."
Phoenix may have made a rollercoaster start to the season but Mitchell knows they'll be difficult to beat. "They are a very good side. They did well in the finals last year. They are very strong at home. But like us they have problems when they travel as well," Mitchell said. "Paul (Ifill) is right up there (with the best players in the A-League). He's played at some good clubs back in the UK and he's a player that we've got to be very careful of."
PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
The fate of club at both end of the Premier League table will be decided during the final 90-minutes of the season. Top honours will be settled at Macedonia Park where the competition's top two, Western Knights and Stirling Lions, go head-to-head. A draw will be enough to secure successive crown for the Knights, who welcome back captain David Annall from suspension but lose Daniel Trim to the same. "We're looking forward to the game," said new Knights assistant coach Alex Christie. "There is a buzz at training and the lads are pretty confident we can get the right result."
Paul Lincoln looks like being without influential defender Jason Gavin for a fifth straight week, however, the Stirling coach received good new during the week with Roberto Lujan declaring himself ready for action. "It's a huge game and it would be pleasing to finish the home and away season in first place," said Lincoln, whose team must outscore the Knights in order to go top. "Our form is good and our confidence is high after the Cup win and a tough away win at Mandurah so I'm confident we can get all three points."
It's just as tight at the other end of the table where four clubs are in the mix for relegation. Swan United know a home win against Balcatta will keep them in the Premier League for an eleventh successive year. Christian Lopez could hold the key to the black and whites achieving their first home win of the winter on a day they'll be without Brendan Craig (suspended). Adam Tong and Matt Italiano come back in after serving suspension for a Balcatta side that has proved the critics wrong in their first ever top flight campaign.
Dalmatinac Park hosts a cut-throat encounter between Cockburn City and Mandurah City, the loser of which may be relegated should Swan win. Cockburn looked in real trouble a month ago but have turned things around thanks to youngsters Dejan Aleksic and Rory Feely as well as the experience of Paul Natale and Shane Nunes. With Andy Brown back from suspension and ex-Cockburn trio Christian Paschewitz, Alex Darby and Jeff Bright hitting their straps Mandurah are confident of getting the point needed to ensure survival.
A draw at Sorrento will keep Inglewood United in the Premier League. Danny Stoitis returns from suspension to lend his experience to an Inglewood rearguard that features Darko Ilmanoski, while Rory Grant and Adrian Caceres hold the key in the goal scoring department. Sorrento welcome back Joe Lamplough from suspension, and with Adam Hayton and Glen Thomas in good form in the middle of the park coach Steve Neville's side will be confident of getting the win they need to make the top five play-offs.
Perth SC can end a horror fortnight by taking home the points from Armadale, who remain an outside chance of appearing in the play-offs. Graham Normanton will again be absent from the Blues dug-out due to suspension, but it’s the experience of Shaun Kilkelly, Craig Simpson and Robbie Puca that will be vital if Perth are to bounce back from successive losses. Armadale must win to have any hope of scraping into the top five, however, with State striker James Robinson and veteran defender Andy Bowyer out suspended their chances do look very slim.
ECU Joondalup might sneak into the final if they can get the better of Floreat Athena and other results go in their favour. The return of Dale McCulloch, Andy Brown and Charlie Comyn-Platt has strengthened Joondalup, however, whether coach Steve Amphlett can squeeze them into the side which defeated Sorrento last week remains to be seen. Floreat have won the last six meetings between the clubs at Litis Stadium and with Branimir Mikulic, Adam Bachiller and Alex Dunn in top form the hosts are likely to make it seven on the trot.
DIVISION ONE IN PREVIEW
Bayswater City can edge a little closer to a top flight return when Fremantle Spirit journeys to Frank Drago Reserve tomorrow. Mauro Marchione's team have pulled three points clear at the top of Division One and the biggest problem facing the Bayswater coach faces is keeping his players minds from wandering away from their next 90 minutes. Fremantle's youngsters hit five goals last time out but its difficult to see them getting anywhere near that number of chances against the champions-elect.
It'll be a near full strength Bunbury Forum Force side that welcomes Rockingham City at Hay Park. Bunbury could not have paid a heavier price for last weeks slip-up and need the likes of Patrick Quinn, David Rodgers and Jordan Rispon to be on top of their game while keeping their fingers crossed Bayswater falter. The job of Rockingham coach Steve Robinson has been made all the more difficult with several players unavailable due to illness and suspension.
Also with a depleted squad is Wanneroo City's Gerry McEwan who is missing four players for the trip to bottom-of-the-table Queens Park. Brian Cairney, Craig Bowman and Jon McGahern miss the game through suspension while injury has claimed Jimmy Rowlands. Queens Park blew a three-goal lead last time out but if those defensive issues can be ironed out, and Jason Feather and Josh Gowland get into stride at the other end, then the home side may just pull off one of the surprises of season 2010.
Gosnells City can consolidate fourth place by taking all three points from their home date with Dianella White Eagles. It's unlikely Morley Windmills will become one of the few teams to come away from Forrestfield United with so much as a point. Canning City haven't enjoyed too much success at Burrendah Reserve this year but a strong 90 minute performance against second-from-bottom Ashfield would be the perfect way to farewell their loyal home supporters.
MEDICA IN THE DARK WHEN IT COMES TO STIRLING
New Western Knights coach Carl Medica admits to knowing very little about Stirling Lions ahead of Saturday's blockbuster Premier League title decider at Macedonia Park. Medica, was at the helm for the first time against Armadale last weekend, says what he's gleamed of this week's opposition has come via his Masters League team mate, Stirling coach Paul Lincoln. "Paul tells me that he has a talented squad," said Medica. "Well, you know what, I think I have a talented squad as well, so it should be an absolute belter on Saturday."
The Knights took a giant step towards back-to-back premierships by fending off Armadale 4-2 on Saturday, just days after Medica replaced Paul Price. "I was a bit worried leading into the game to see how the players would react with what happened during the week, but the boys put in a great effort," commented Medica. "The thing that stood out for me was that they worked ever so hard. When Armadale made it two-all we could have easily put up the white flag, but they dug deep, showed lots of spirit and determination and got the result they so fully deserved."
Medica was happily enjoying family life when he received the invitation to coach his former club. "The offer came out of the blue. I was just as surprised as everyone else!," he said. "The club decided they wanted to go down a different path and offered the job to me - and I grabbed it with both hands. Who wouldn't, we're top of the league and finals bound ... There will be a lot of pressure on myself and (assistant) Alex Christie to deliver, so we'll just try our best to bring the club the success it deserves."
Medica enjoyed a hugely successful playing career with the Knights, who he joined in 1994 following spells at Fremantle Benfica and Floreat Athena. He spent much of his career operating down the left flank but his ability to consistently find the net resulted in Medica switching to more of a goal scorer role in his latter years. Over eleven seasons he helped the Knights to eight trophies in addition to collecting numerous individual awards and State team honours.
Since hanging up his boots for the final time in 2004, Medica has pretty much stepped away from football. "I've got a young family - three kids under the age of eight - so that's kept me busy. My two boys, Sebastian and Xavier, both play at Balcatta so I help out on the weekends when required," he explained. "I'm also playing Masters with Inglewood and its funny how things have turned out as one of my team mates is Paul Lincoln, who I'll face this weekend for the minor premiership."
A point against Stirling will secure the Knights back-to-back Premier League titles, however, playing for a draw is not Medica's style. "We only need a draw but I've always been attack-minded and that won't change," said the Knights coach. "Alex (Christie) and myself had great success under the guidance of Ronnie Campbell and Willie Kelly and the winning attributes they instilled into us are still with me - believe in yourself, give 100% and have no regrets ... if we do this then the result will look after itself."
AMPHLETT READY TO FIRE
Perth Glory midfielder Tommy Amphlett is on his way back to full fitness after recovering from a hip injury. 20101/11 was shaping up to be a breakthrough season for Amphlett when he was struck down by injury in pre-season. "It was a huge blow for me when I injured my hip," said 22-year old Amphlett. "We were doing a circuit and I over-stretched in one of the exercises and just felt it go. I had two tears and its taken time to heal, but everything is all good now and I started full training two weeks ago."
Amphlett, 22, is determined to force his way into the Glory line-up after missing the clubs' trip to China. "It was disappointing to miss the tour, but that's all part of football," said the former ECU Joondalup player. "There is so much competition for places in the side this season so the injury really came at the wrong time for me. I really wanted to impress in my first full pre-season and everyone was buzzing so I needed to make an impression, but unfortunately it wasn't to be."
Glory's flying start to the new season has them sitting along side Adelaide United at the top of the A-League table. Amphlett knows breaking into a side which is unbeaten after four games. "It's going to be hard with so much experience and the Gaffer (David Mitchell) has a lot more depth this season but I intend to keep plugging away and take my chance when I get it," Amphlett said.
In the meantime he plans to learn as much as possible from new team mate Robbie Fowler and assistant coach Ian Ferguson. "Robbie has been brilliant since he's arrived. He's played at the highest level and you can see that at training, hopefully I can learn a few tricks of him," said Amphlett. "Fergie gives the young players advice and shows us were we're going wrong, and he's a good laugh as well."
Amphlett's attacking prowess has brought him to the attention of clubs from abroad, however, for the time he's happy to remain a Glory player. "I just want to play well and the rest will follow," Amphlett said. "At this stage I am just concentrating on becoming a regular first team player at Glory. I love it here, the all coaching staff are brilliant and all the players get on really well."
ROBINSON AIMS FOR A CLEAN SWEEP
Irish midfielder Shane Robinson wants to add the Premier League and Top Five trophies to Stirling Lions' collection. Macedonia Park is already home to the State League Cup and, after last weeks win at Mandurah City, Robinson sees no reason why his club can't go on with the job and collect all three end of season trophies. "We're sitting in a good position in the title race, it's where we wanted to be," said Robinson, whose team are two points behind leaders and this weeks opposition Western Knights. "We will be going all-out on Saturday to finish the home and way season on top of the league and then the finals will look after themselves."
Robinson, who played professionally in Ireland for Shamrock Rovers and Drogheda United, has no complaints about his spell as captain of Stirling. "I've enjoyed my time here in WA. Don Evans and the board have been great, and everyone behind the scenes deserves success at Stirling for their efforts in running the club," Robinson said. "The standard of football has potential to be much better, it's littered with quality players. But other things let it down - some pitches are far too small and some of the referees are not up to the standard of play, which is disappointing."
Stirling coach Paul Lincoln has been pleased with how Robinson has led his team throughout the season. "When I arrived at the club I was informed that Shane had all the attributes of a leader so I had no hesitation to make him the captain," Lincoln said. "He is an outstanding player playing at a level that is comfortable for him. He is a true professional and prides himself on his performance and I expect him to really show his class on Saturday and through our finals campaign."
Where the Premier League trophy spends the next twelve months will be decided on Saturday when Stirling host the Knights in a winner take all blockbuster. Robinson has the utmost respect for a Knights side he rates very highly. "I wouldn't single out anyone in their side, they obviously have good players but more importantly they are a quality team," said Robinson. "They are strong at set pieces and we will have to be on our game defensively to deal with them." Stirling and the Knights lock horns from 3.00pm on Saturday at Macedonia Park.
RACE FOR PROMOTION IS NOT OVER: CATALANO
The champagne has been put on ice as Bayswater City near a much-anticipated return to Premier League football. Bayswater claimed outright leadership of Division One with Saturday’s 3-1 win at Morley Windmills on an afternoon when their only title rival, Bunbury Forum Force, suffered a devastating 3-2 loss to Gosnells City. With two rounds remaining, Bayswater sit three points clear at the top of the table and on the cusp of top flight football for the first time in four years. .
Damien Catalano, who plays a starring role in midfield for Bayswater, says his club won’t being celebrating until the trophy is firmly in their hands. “Beating Morley was an important win just like any other, perhaps slightly more significant from a club point of view as other results went our way. But the title is far from won, there a two games remaining and anything can happen,” said Catalano, before conceding his relief at finally getting clear of Bunbury. “To stay in touch with Bunbury and Wanneroo City there has been a lot of pressure to perform week in week out, and some of that was lifted by Saturday’s results.”
Logic dictates that Bayswater will pick up maximum points from their final two games, against Fremantle Spirit and Rockingham City. However, Catalano says both opponents have points to prove at the end of disappointing campaigns and that neither result should be considered a forgone conclusion. “These are two big games with a lot at stake. Both sides are strong, fit and determined to win,” said Catalano, whose team is home to Fremantle on Saturday. “It will be tough contest as both teams have a lot to play for. I expect it’ll be an end-to-end game with the possibility of many goals.”
LOPEZ KEEPS SWANS AFLOAT
A brace on the weekend by teenager Christian Lopez has kept Swan United in with a chance of keeping their Premier League status intact. The 19-year old striker celebrated his first start by scoring twice in the vital 4-1 win against Perth SC, a result which puts the black and whites fate very much in their own hands. "Saturday was a great win for our football club, under a lot of pressure and against the odds," Lopez said. "The boys really worked for each other and the three points puts us in a good position to stay alive in the league next season."
Having consistently found the net in the Reserves, Lopez is understandably delighted with is two-goal contribution at Perth. "In all honesty my thoughts had nothing to do with excitement for my debut or on scoring goals, more so doing whatever it takes to get the points and keep our season alive," Lopez explained. "In the end I was happy with my goals and for the teams' performance. I need to thank Coppa (coach Jamie Goodman) for having belief and the guts to give me my debut in such an important game."
Goodman's decision to promote Lopez to the first eleven was made at the last moment. "To be honest I hadn't made up my mind whether to start Christian or Liam Boland up until I arrived at the ground," said the coach. "They are very different strikers and I thought that with the shape we were planning on playing, that Christian's work rate and unorthodox style might cause Perth some problems. He scored two goals and ran himself into the ground - I could not have asked any more from him."
Although Swan have not won a league game at home this year, Lopez remains confident they can defeat Balcatta this Saturday and give themselves the best possible chance of Premier League survival. "We've worked really hard at training this week and we're confident we will take the points on Saturday against Balcatta," said Lopez. "There will be no room for complacency on Saturday, despite it being a dead rubber for Balcatta. As Coppa has said the last few weeks 'this game is our cup final' and that mindset together with the belief of the team will give us what we need to win on Saturday."
SEKULOVSKI READY TO ATONE
Naum Sekulovski can erase the bitter memory of his penalty shoot-out miss in last seasons' A-League finals when Perth Glory hosts Wellington Phoenix on Sunday afternoon. In one of the year's most gripping encounters, Liam Reddy kept out successive spot kicks from Sekulovski and Scott Bulloch to bring Glory's 2009/10 campaign to a halt. "Personally, I missed one of the penalties so hopefully we can get over them and get one back for that," said the veteran Glory defender.
Sekulovski admits the affects of that loss in New Zealand were still being felt amongst the Glory squad. "Obviously we failed in the finals against Wellington and now I think the boys have got that hunger and we want to go that next step forward," said Sekulovski, now in his sixth season at Glory. "We want to make the top four, we want to try and do what we can this season to rectify what happened in the last."
To maintain their unbeaten record this season Glory will need to get the better of a Wellington side still smarting from a 1-0 loss in Brisbane last weekend. "It's going to be a tough game, they've built well in the off-season," Sekulovski said. "Obviously they've got a lot of confidence coming from the World Cup, a lot of their (New Zealand) boys are in that Wellington side. We're going to look forward to a big clash. Especially when we're at home, we've got to take the initiative."
VAN DONGEN POINTS TO A KNIGHTS TITLE
A win at Macedonia Park on Saturday will secure Western Knights back-to-back Premier League crowns for the first time in the clubs 42-year history. Leading into the final game of the season the Knights sit two points ahead of Stirling Lions, who'll be pulling out all the stops to claim top honours for themselves. But Knights midfielder Paul Van Dongen says that is simply not going to happen. "At this time of the year we as a playing group know what's expected of us and we're all very aware of what role we each play in the team," he commented.
The Knights were given a solid 90-minute workout by Armadale last week when two late goals from Anthony Campbell earned a 4-2 victory. "We were always expecting a tough game from Armadale given that they had a top five spot to play for and that they had knocked us out of the Cup earlier in the year," Van Dongen said. "We showed good character to come back from a goal down, and our work rate was as good as it's been all year. Anthony was the difference with two great solo goals, he's been quiet this year by his own standards and it was nice to see him playing with confidence and running at players again."
Van Dongen, 27, moved to the Knights last summer following nine seasons with Canning City. "Joining the Knights has been refreshing, they have some great people behind the scenes and they made me feel at home right from day one," said the midfielder. "From a footballing side of things, playing alongside the likes of Stuart Montgomery and Dave Micevski, who are seasoned campaigners at top of the table clubs, has been a great learning curve. I'd be lying if I said I've been happy with my individual performances this year, but hopefully my confidence will improve over the next few weeks – right in time for the business end of the season."
Van Dongen expects a tough game on Saturday against a Stirling side which earlier in the season claimed a 2-1 victory at Nash Field. "There's obviously a lot on the line but you play football to be involved in games like this," commented Van Dongen. "I'm sure (coaches) Carl (Medica) and Alex (Christie) will have a long hard think about the best way to approach this game tactically ... we will be throwing everything we have into the game as expected – and I know it will mean the world to all those behind the scenes at the club that give their time all year in search of a trophy."
Stirling has an abundance of attacking options that will need careful attention according to Van Dongen. "I'm sure Mario Marcinko will be looking to bag a few against his old club on the weekend so we'll have to keep a close eye on him. And if we can keep Shane Robinson and Bobby Wilson quiet, we'd be shutting down their engine room," said the midfielder. "Stirling will be very attacking and in search of a win, whereas as a draw or a win is good enough for us to take the title. It should be a very entertaining game either way."
WARD JOINS PHOENIX
Wellington Phoenix have bolstered their A-League title aspirations with the signing of midfielder Nick Ward from Melbourne Victory. 25-year old Ward, a member of Victory’s 2008/09 double winning side, heads across the Tasman in search of regular game time. “I’m sad to be leaving Melbourne but the prospect of first team football at the Phoenix was obviously very appealing,” said Ward, who has played just six minutes so far in 2010/11. “I want to be playing week in, week out and I feel I have a better chance of regular football with Wellington.”
Wellington coach Ricki Herbert believes Ward’s injection into the midfield will improve the squad as competition for spots intensifies. “Nick’s a good addition to the squad and adds depth into the midfield in a more attacking role,” Herbert said. “He’s the sort of midfielder who gets more advanced (up the pitch) and he has a great engine. In the Victory’s premiership season in 2008/09 Nick was quite prolific scoring goals for the club and played a major role for them, so bringing a proven goal-scoring midfielder will certainly add something for us.”
Back to the www.footballwa.net Archived News Index
This page was last updated on the 4th November, 2010