VELAPHI RISES FOR ASIAN CHALLENGE (courtesy the ‘West Austalian’)
Tando Velaphi is ready to embrace an Asian adventure with Melbourne Victory. Velaphi put pen to paper on his Victory deal in time to play his part in the club's AFC Champions League campaign, which kicks off tomorrow against Japanese side Gamba Osaka. The 23-year old goalkeeper made 74 appearances across his four seasons with Glory before signing with Victory, where he's had just a couple of training sessions to get to know his new team mates.
Velaphi admits he's lucky to be party of Victory's ACL squad. "The Champions League is something a lot of Australian players want to be involved in and I've been lucky with Melbourne's success (in qualifying) last year," Velaphi said. "I'm really looking forward to it. You get to play against some top-class, different Asian opposition which is always good for the resume. It's going to be exciting times."
Fremantle-born Michael Petkovic is Victory's first-choice goalkeeper and Velaphi is prepared to pick up as many tips as possible from such an experienced campaigner. "Petka is the number one here and I'm going to play whatever role it may be, whether it's on the bench, not traveling, or whatever," Velaphi said of playing second fiddle to the three time National Soccer League Goalkeeper of the Year. "I'm just going to embrace the experience."
Velaphi refused to comment on whether coach Ian Ferguson's decision to sign goalkeeper Danny Vukovic sparked his move east. "I've been at Perth for four years and I enjoyed it the whole time," the former Australian youth international said. "I'm going to miss a lot of the boys and the supporters as well. But in football you move on to new things and I'm looking forward to this new challenge." Velaphi has plenty of familiar faces to help him settle in Melbourne, including his 2008 Olympic Games team mates Billy Celeski and Adrian Leijer.
LOCALS THE KEY TO SUCCESS: STANGE
Bernd Stange has urged Perth Glory to embrace young West Australian talent as the foundation for its rebuild. Stange, who coached Glory for three seasons and in 1999/2000 guided the club to the National League Soccer regular season title, said he was saddened by his former club’s recent decline. Now in charge of European minnow Belarus, 62-year old Stange has retained a close interest in Glory and said he could not understand how the 2010/11 campaign had been such a disaster.
Stange said there was no reason the club could not find as many talented local youngsters as rival A-League clubs. “If people are saying the West Australian local league is not a very high standard it doesn’t mean anything because there are always growing talents,” he said. “Now is the time to renew the team and bring fresh blood. There are always youngsters and good boys and that’s why it is not understandable why they are so deep in trouble now. You need of course three or four highlights, you need leaders, and you have to buy these type of players. But the base of Perth Glory should be Western Australian football.”
Stange said although his time with Glory was marked by a strained relationship with Nick Tana, the pressure he was put under by the then club chairman helped create a culture of success. “I was permanently under pressure from this man and maybe this situation put Perth Glory on top of the league,” he said. Stange, whose resume includes spells in charge of the national teams of East Germany, Oman and Iraq as well as Belarus, joined Glory in mid-1998 and steered the club to finals football on each of his three seasons at the helm.
YOUNG CALLS TIME OUT ON FOOTBALL
Former Perth Glory striker Stuart Young has revealed a combination of factors played a part in his decision to formally tender his resignation as coach of Mandurah City. Young cited increasing frustration on the field that put him in a difficult position as coach as well as the difficulty of shift work for his reasons to leave the coaching role. It’s comes after Mandurah City failed to reach the finals of the Night Series games and finished second to last in 2010.
Young said he started to take the pressures of the job home with him, something he believed “is not right for part-time football” and it was small things that built up over time. “We never had a kit manager during training, someone to have the balls and drinks ready,” Young told mandurahmail.com.au. “And we haven’t been able to attract the quality of players I think we needed to help on the field.”
Young said confusion between Mandurah’s long and short term goals meant there were two contrasting schools of thought operating within the club. “To me, the club can go two ways. One is to get the young players in to get some experience and also save some money,” he said. “Or they can go all out and sign two or three players who will give finals chances. Instead we were always chasing and that’s not a good position to be in, it’s frustrating.”
ONLY OUTSIDE HELP CAN FIX GLORY, ADMITS SAGE
An independent review into Perth Glory has revealed the extent of the club's precarious position and highlighted the desperate need for outside assistance, according to owner Tony Sage. Speaking publicly for the first time since reading the club review prepared by David Hatt, Sage said the report confirmed that Glory's future depended on assistance from Football Federation Australia and a better stadium deal.
But Sage, who has warned that no position at the club is safe, said he would hold face-to-face meetings with chief executive Paul Kelly and deputy chairman Lui Giuliani before revealing his plans for an internal shake-up of the struggling A-League club. "I don't want to talk about staffing, football department and all that sort of stuff until I've spoken to Lui and PK," said Sage, who expects to schedule a meeting for early next week.
FFA chief executive Ben Buckley and A-League boss Lyall Gorman are also expected to fly to Perth next week to meet Glory officials. Sage will again argue that Glory should receive compensation from FFA for having to pay accommodation costs he claims amount to around $300,000 more than other clubs. "The club is precarious," Sage said. "If it was in commercial hands on the stock exchange, for example, it would've been shut down because it would be trading insolvent."
Sage says help from outside Glory is needed to get the club back on their feet. "It (Glory) survives because I put my hand in my pocket … If I wasn't here it would've folded two years ago," he added. "But the things needed to fix it can't be done by the management of Perth Glory. It's got to be done by outside parties. I can't fix it, Paul Kelly can't fix it, Lui Giuliani can't fix it. The people who can fix it are FFA, State Government and the Town of Vincent."
The State Government is preparing to spend $88 million to redevelop Perth Oval, where Glory have played most of their games since their first season in 1996/97. Sage is adamant the venue, run by former Glory owner Nick Tana's company Allia Venue Management, is too expensive and Glory are looking for an alternative home. Glory claims to have had initial discussions with Hockey WA to utilise the Curtin University hockey facility.
BALCATTA TOO GOOD FOR NEIGHBOURS
Balcatta began the 2011 Premier League campaign with a 3-1 derby win against Stirling Lions at Macedonia Park. First half goals from Jason Barrera and Adam Tong had the visitors in control by the break. The dismissal of Paul Dugdale with six minutes to go ended Stirling’s hopes of a comeback, and soon after Balcatta captain Ashley Rosindale made all three points safe. Phil O’Callaghan pulled a goal back in stoppage time but it was too little too late for a Stirling side that dominated the second stanza.
A goal on debut made a for a dream start by Barrera to his time with Balcatta. “It was warm out there but we are all delighted to get the three points today,” said Barrera, who joined Balcatta over the summer. “I’m pleased to get on the scoreboard in my first game at my new club, but we had to fight hard in the second half as they came at us. We were disappointed not to make it a clean sheet but we’ll take the win.”
The hot and humid conditions didn’t seem to bother the visitors who dominated the opening stages. John Migas and Tong had headers saved by James Turvill before Rosindale fired wide after meeting a Daniel Micevski cross. Balcatta’s dominance was rewarded in the 10th minute when Barrera finished with aplomb past Turvill after being sent clear. Stirling looked to hit back immediately, Scott Muirhead’s cross from the right finding O’Callaghan inside the 18-yard box but the striker was unable to hit the target.
Balcatta almost doubled the lead on the quarter hour when Barrera sent clear Micevski whose shot was blocked by Turvill. It got worse for the home side in the 36th minute, Migas finding Daniel Niederberger who cut inside the penalty area only to be brought down by David Hunt. Referee Josh Mihevc had no hesitation in pointing to the spot from where Tong fired low past Turvill to make it two-nil. The game was in stoppage time when Muirhead’s free kick from distance was spectacularly tipped away from the top corner by goalkeeper Lewis Italiano.
Stirling’s search for answers saw Corey Cullen and Jamie De Abreu come into the game for the second half. The double switch looked like paying dividends with De Abreu’s long range shot deflecting off Tong but was brilliantly saved by Italiano. Stirling were now on top but finding it difficult to get past Balcatta’s central defensive pairing of Tong and Jovo Pavlovic. Jamie Watt was sent down the left but his cross was just out of reach of an unmarked De Abreu. Moments later Perich put the ball with De Abreu but he fired straight at Italiano.
It was all hands on deck for Balcatta as they soaked up wave after wave of pressure. But with six minutes left Dugdale was shown a straight red card after bringing down Mo Atak, effectively ending Stirling’s hopes of a late revival. Two minutes later Rosindale fired in at the near post after good work on the left by Migas to seal the visitors win. There was still time for O’Callaghan to bag a consolation, netting at close range after Ludovic Boi’s corner was headed back across goal by Jason Gavin.
FORMER STAR MORI CAN LEAD GLORY REVIVAL: PETKOVIC
Goalscoring legend Damian Mori can help lead Perth Glory out of their A-League abyss, according to former goalkeeper Jason Petkovic. Mori, who played alongside Petkovic in Glory's golden years, wants to coach in the A-League and has been building a solid case with success in South Australia. The former Socceroos striker, who scored an incredible 84 goals in 129 appearances for Glory, has won five out of the past six SA titles as coach of Adelaide City. "Damian is driven to win," Petkovic said. "He is one of the few people around who's done his apprenticeship and done well at it. And he's a former player who has been successful."
Petkovic, who made 177 Glory appearances, is Mori's long-time friend but said his comments were based entirely on his mate's ability. "If they are hesitant to give him full control of the situation, they could take him on as an assistant," Petkovic said. Mori recently attended the same 'A' coaching licence course as Glory coach Ian Ferguson. Owner Tony Sage has warned that no one at Glory is safe as he prepares to act on the findings of an independent club review, although Ferguson and director of football Dave Mitchell have handshake agreements for another year.
Former Glory caretaker coach Alan Vest, who was assisted by Mori in the inaugural A-League season in 2005/06, endorsed Petkovic's recommendation. "I would never criticise the coach or Sage because both have bloody tough jobs," Vest said. "But I do believe they need to get people involved who have a bit of passion for the club. Whether it's Damian, Gareth Naven, Scotty Miller, Bobby (Despotovski), Kenny Lowe or whoever, they've got to get a spark back into it." Despotovski, one of the greatest players to have pulled on a Glory shirt, has been scathing of the club's decline under Mitchell and Ferguson, outbursts Vest says are evidence of the striker's desire for the club to improve.
MANDURAH UPSET PERTH (with Jordan McArdle, Football West)
Mandurah City pulled off an early season surprise by toppling Perth SC 2-1 under lights at Dorrien Gardens. Goals from Andy brown and new recruit Lucas Whitehouse earned the Dolphins their first ever league win at Perth, but only after Trent Kay had given the hosts in an early lead. “It was an excellent win,” said Mandurah boss Mike Brazil. “Not many people come away with the three points at Dorrien Gardens. The boys dug in and produced some great football to get the win.”
It took Perth only 6 minutes to open their account with Antonio Naglieri’s well flighted corner finding the head of Trent Kay who directed the ball past the outstretched gloves of Phil Straker. Mandurah worked hard to get back in the game but Matthew Stares’ long range attempt was tipped over by Devon Spence. The Dolphins’ efforts were rewarded in the 27th minute when Brown found some space and coolly slotted the ball to the right of a diving goalkeeper. Whitehouse stunned the home team in the 37th minute when his strike found the back of the net to give Mandurah a two-one advantage at the break.
Brown nearly doubled Mandurah’s lead with a dazzling solo effort early in the second period but his shot veered narrowly the wrong side of the post. Perth’s attempt to improve their situation was hampered by several elemental defensive errors which served to frustrate players, coaches and supporters. The hosts best chance of the half had David Onoforo broke free of the defence only to be met by Straker, who cleared the danger. As Mandurah started to tire the momentum swung in Perth’s favour, however, there’d be no way back as the Dolphins bunkered down at the back to hold onto their lead.
BAYSWATER START WITH A WIN (with James Wragg, Football West)
Bayswater City announced their return to Premier League football by downing Armadale 2-0 in the opening round match at Alfred Skeet Oval. Anthony McStea finished a fine counter attack by putting the visitors ahead late in the first half with Cisco Jorqueira adding their second just before the hour. But the outcome could have been so very different had Armadale been able to make something of their numerous chances which included a first half penalty.
The first half was largely controlled by Armadale with Warren Beattie forcing a brilliant save from Gianni Papalia in just the 4th minute. Luka Njegich’s trip on Tom Robinson shortly after led referee David Scragg to award the home side a penalty but Parys Okai’s weak spot kick was saved low by Papalia, keeping the scores level. Another guilt-edge opportunity was squandered two minutes later when Papalia was out of position as Jason Goodwin’s stabbed effort from 2-metres was deflected over the crossbar.
Armadale tried hard to get the goal they deserved but poor finishing let them down again when Robinson was played through but skied his finish from a slight angle. Robinson was given another chance when Papalia’s miskick went straight to the midfielder whose shot was too close to the Bayswater goalkeeper. The hosts wastefulness was punished in the 44th minute when a searching through ball saw Gavin Knight get the better of Matt Bennion before stroking first time over an advancing Cyril Sharrock.
Luck remained against Armadale in the second half, Ross Diamond diverting Robinson's cross into the frame of the goal. Bayswater tightened their hold on the game after 56 minutes when David Sesay was afforded time and space to surge forward and play into the path of Jorqueira, who rounded Sharrock before tucking away goal number two. Armadale finally found the back of the net in the 63rd minutes, Marlon Ramirez converting only for his effort to be disallowed for offside.
As the half wore on Armadale increasingly showed signs of being tired and out of ideas. Bayswater by contrast were well on top and should have had a third goal but Knight crashed his shot into the bar when he looked destined to score. The afternoon’s entertainment ended on a low when Sean Nicholls late challenge on Sesay sparked an all in melee in the centre of the park , and one calm was restored the referee issued the Armadale player a red card.
KNIGHTS OFF TO A FLYER (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
A goal in each half earned Western Knights a comfortable 2-0 win over Sorrento at Percy Doyle Reserve. Branimir Mikulic’s deflected header gave the visitors the lead shortly before half time with Stuart Montgomery sealing the win from the penalty spot close to the final whistle. Sorrento's best chance fell to Jamie Harnwell, but the former Perth Glory player was unable to capitalise as his side struggled to get out of first gear. The Gulls must now wait two weeks to get their season back on track with a bye and a tie against the National Training Centre before their Round Four fixture with Floreat Athena.
Stuart Ferguson signalled the Knights attacking desires when he beat his marker inside the 18-yard box and fired against the post with barely 3 minutes on the clock. The home side eventually found their feet but could find no way past Frazer Siddall, who produced a wonderful save to deny Jamie Harnwell at a corner and soon after tipped over Jack Doyle’s effort. Sloppy 33rd minute defending by Jamie Harnwell let in Mikulic whose strike grazed the outside of the post. The deadlock was finally broken ten minutes later when Mikulic rose strongly to beat past Curtis Aspden, who was flat-footed after the deflected off Jamie Harnwell.
The second half opened with the Knights looking the more likely team to score. A raid down the left nearly delivered their second goal but Ferguson sliced wide of the target after being teed up by Cormac Dawson. Mikulic then blew a chance to secure the game by shooting tamely at Aspden as chances became increasingly rarer. Sorrento were controversially denied an equaliser when Jamie Harnwell headed into the net only to be deemed to have fouled Siddall in the lead-up. With ten minutes to play Montgomery dispatched his spot kick into the net after referee Mathew Cheeseman whistled for an infringement in a crowded area.
JOONDALUP PREVAIL AT INGLEWOOD
ECU Joondalup kicked off the new season with a 2-1 victory over home team Inglewood United. Jon Higgins put the visitors ahead midway through the first half with a stunning free-kick before weathering an Inglewood onslaught after the interval. Substitute Jake Geddes looked to have salvaged a point with an 88th minute equaliser, however, John Thornley soon had Joondalup back. In an extraordinary finish, Inglewood were awarded a penalty of their own in stoppage time but Ndumba Makeche’s attempt was saved too close to goalkeeper Andy Banks.
The visitors piled on the pressure from the outset, winning six corners in the opening 10 minutes. Ross Edwards close range effort was instinctively blocked by Oliver Taseski after one of Higgins’ dead balls went to feet, and shortly after Thornley’s glancing header clipped the top of the crossbar on its way over. Inglewood didn’t threaten until the 23rd minute when James Sammut’s initial effort was blocked by a defender and Ryan Clarke’s follow-up was held by Banks. Four minutes later Clarke flicked the top netting after latching onto a partially cleared corner.
Joondalup were rewarded for their early dominance in the 29th minute when Higgins free kick from 27-metres curled into the top corner, giving Oliver Taseski in goal no chance. The visitors desire to double their lead saw Jake Benson-Cooper fired straight at Taseski before Johnathon Stynes’ long-range free kick flashed wide. Inglewood should have equalised just before the break when Sammut slipped a pass through for Clarke but after getting past Banks the midfielder’s shot was blocked by Oliver McGee.
Inglewood went agonisingly close moments after the restart, Chris Wylie heading an in-swinging Sammut corner off the line. A few minutes later Rory Grant’s angled header crashed off the junction of post and crossbar after meeting a Sammut free kick. Banks blocked another Grant effort on the end of the big striker’s weaving run with Clarke unable to get the follow up through a crowded box. Grant wasted a golden opportunity in the 65th minute, flicking the ball over the bar from 12-metres with only the ‘keeper to beat.
Both coaches went to their benches as they attempted to counter the effects of the energy sapling conditions. Jason Colli blazed over after a good move involving Geddes, who then shot straight at Banks. Inglewood’s search for a goal continued with Grant heading over before Makeche expertly evaded a couple of defenders only to be denied by Banks. David McNally headed into the upright from a Sammut corner to the back post, Banks blocked a powerful Makeche strike with Daniel Stoitis putting the follow up wide, and Geddes was unable to keep down his header from a Sammut cross.
Inglewood appeared to have salvaged a point in the 88th minute when an unmarked Geddes headed in after Makeche deflected cross caught Joondalup ball watching. However, sixty seconds later referee Paul Anderson spotted a shirt pull by Stoitis on Ian McMurray and awarded a penalty which Thornley coolly converted. The drama continued two minutes into stoppage time when Josh Brook was harshly ruled to have felled Alex Stamatiadis, the referee again pointing to the spot only for Makeche to tamely hit his spot-kick straight to Banks.
Post-game, Joondalup boss Syd Amphlett was quick to praise the character of his players. "It was really difficult conditions out there and this side wouldn't have won this game last year," he said. "This group of boys has got a real spirit and mentality about them and it was a great performance. We dominated the first half but credit to them, they outplayed us in the second half but we fought hard and they showed a lot out there today."
FEELY SNATCHED COCKBURN THE POINTS (with Elle Mitaros, Football West)
Cockburn City came from behind to defeat Floreat Athena 2-1 in a high-intensity encounter at Dalmatinac Park. Played in sweltering heat and humidity, Floreat entered the break with a one-goal buffer courtesy of midfielder Paul Van Dongen, however, Johny Mirco brought the sides level soon after the re-stat with Rory Feely stealing victory just before the final whistle. “Given the extreme heat, the boys pulled together well,” Cockburn captain Adrian Webster said. “We worked harder at the end to score a good goal and we exploited good opportunities.”
There were only 3 minutes on the clock when Feely threatened for the first time, his accurate header saved by goalkeeper Alex Dunn. Cockburn were fortunate not to concede moments later when a defensive error by Declan Boyham was pounced on by Jarrad Smith, who was unable to make the most of his one-on-one with Dejan Aleksic. Throughout the half it was Cockburn that controlled the middle of the park with Marc Anthony providing plenty of support for those around him. With half-time beckoning Paul Van Dongen fired in the games’ opening goal to put Floreat in the advantage.
Cockburn needed only seven minutes of the second half to draw level, Mirco converting an accurate ball into the 18-yard box from Anthony Pereira. Both teams went down to ten men around the hour mark, Floreat’s Jack Allen the first to get his marching order following a desperate tackle with Pereira following suit three minutes later having picked up a second yellow card. With shots on goal hard to come by as the teams wilted in the heat, Cockburn thought they’d found a winner when Feely netted only to have it disallowed for offside. However, that was soon enough forgotten when Feely struck in the 89th minute to give his team a perfect start to the new season.
HEFFEMAN JOINS GLORY
Perth Glory has confirmed the signing of defender Dean Heffernan following his release from Melbourne Heart. Heffernan, who in his time at Central Coast Mariners was regarded as one of the best full backs in the A-League, failed to fire under coach John van 't Schip this season, playing just 13 matches. “This is a significant move and I’m proud to be joining Perth Glory,” Heffernan said. “I’ve worked with Fergie (Ian Ferguson) before and I’m excited by the challenge to help rebuild this great club.”
Ferguson is delighted with the newest addition to his Glory roster. “Dean has a great pedigree,” Ferguson said. “He’s played for the Socceroos, played in two Hyundai A-League grand finals and also had two stints overseas in Germany and England.” Heffeman started his national league career with Wollongong Wolves and Sydney United before making his mark with the Mariners, making 65 appearances for the club and gaining two ‘A’ caps with Australia. The defender enjoyed a short-term deal with English club Huddersfield Town prior to linking up with Melbourne Heart last season.
Heffernan will join his new teammates for pre-season training in the first week of August after he completes a short term loan deal with Liaoning Whowin in China. “It will be good for Dean to get some game time during the extended off-season. It will allow him to comeback stronger and in good condition for the tough season ahead,” commented Ferguson, who added Heffeman is also a threat going forward. “Dean will also be a goal threat for us from left full-back. He’s a great crosser of the ball and Dean will bring great energy to the squad.”
THE SEASON STARTS NOW!
The smoke and mirrors of pre-season football have been put away as the 2011 Premier League season bursts into life this weekend. The pick of the action is the local derby between Stirling Lions and a new-look Balcatta at Macedonia Park (3.00pm) on Sunday. "Balcatta have recruited really well over the break and have put together a strong team. The game will be a tight contest, the supporters will be entertained for the full 90 minutes,” Stirling coach Paul Lincoln said. “We want to make the Lion’s Den a fortress this season so we need to ensure we get off to a good start.”
There’s been a total overhaul of the Balcatta squad under new boss Michael Roki, who is looking forward to the season proper. “The Lions are always a difficult opponent and our new squad is still in the early stages of gelling, which is not ideal. All excuses aside, we hope to set some standards for ourselves from Round One and the three points will be enthusiastically chased,” Roki said. “I’m sure Paul Lincoln will have his team well drilled and the pressure will be on us to deliver a knockout blow if we are up to it.”
The remainder of the round is played on Saturday, starting with Sorrento and Western Knghts at Percy Doyle Reserve (3.00pm). Gulls coach Paul Price left Nash Field in controversial circumstances last season and he’d love nothing more than to get one over his former club. Adam Luca and David Price have been looking good in midfield, while Jamie Harnwell brings a wealth of experience to Sorrento’s backline. The Knights have won on three of their last four visits to Sorrento and for that trend to continue captain David Annall, Glen Thomas and Branimir Mikulic need to be on top of their games.
Newly crowned Night Series champions Floreat Athena head south to Dalmatinac Park where they take on Cockburn City (3.00pm). Liam Boland had no problems finding the net in pre-season and his partnership with veteran Garin Collins is important to a Floreat line-up missing goalkeeper Alex Dunn and James Isaia due to injury. One-time New Zealand international Adrian Webster and 2010 Gold Medal winner Marc Anthony will be pulling out all the stops in midfield to provide Johny Mirco as many opportunities as possible to score against his former club.
Inglewood United have home ground advantage over ECU Joondalup (3.00pm) in what’s shaping to be an intriguing contest. The home side picked up David McNally, Brendan Craig, James Sammut and Ndumba Makeche over the summer and each will need to be firing if Inglewood is to get anything out of the afternoon. Joondalup will be one of the teams to watch in 2011, Oliver McGee and Ross Edwards provide the team a solid defensive foundation with the developing partnership between John Thornley and Jake Benson-Cooper likely to produce a good number of goals over the coming months.
Scott Miller’s first game in charge of Armadale is against newly promoted Bayswater City at Alfred Skeet Oval. Miller, who took over as coach from Brad Hassell a couple of weeks back, will be tempted to bring attack-minded pair Craig Young and Anthony Campbell into his first eleven with Steve McDonald and Cyril Sharrock the key figures in defence. Damian Catalano, Anthony McStea, Gustavo Marulanda and goalkeeper Gianni Papalia have big roles to play as Bayswater embark on their first season in the top flight since 2006.
There’ll also be new faces in charge when Perth SC and Mandurah City meet under lights at Dorrien Gardens (6.30pm). Ronnie Campbell was pleased with Perth’s pre-season efforts and will be pushing his side to open the home and away series with a bang. Adam Bachiller has slotted neatly into the defence while the return from long-term injury of Greg Sharland and Robert Sciascia provides the Blues options in the final third. Mandurah have never won a league game at Perth and recently appointed coach Mike Brazil will need big efforts from Andy Brown, newcomer Matt Stares and Ivan Zuvela.
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, THE PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
The fifty-second season of State League football in Western Australia has all the hallmarks of being an absolute thriller. Perennial front-runners Perth SC and Western Knights will face strong challenges from Stirling Lions as well as big improvers ECU Joondalup and Balcatta. It’s going to be tight at the other end of the table where many expect Armadale, Mandurah City and Premier League returnees Bayswater City to battle it out to avoid the drop.
The top five sides at the conclusion of the home and away season enter a play-off series which culminates in the Grand Final at the start of October to decide the State Champion. Brett Klucznik takes a close look at each of the twelve clubs - in alphabetic order - including a summary of player movements and an assessment of squad strengths and weaknesses. The footballwa.net team along with the Ashley Morrison (‘Not the Footy Show’) and Eamon Duffy (‘Let’s Talk Football’) then offer their thoughts on how season 2011 will pan out…
TONG BACKS BALCATTA’S RISE
Balcatta are ready to make their mark on the Premier League according to England-born defender Adam Tong. A summer of change sees a new-look team playing out of Grindleford Reserve with Michael Roki’s team beginning to hit their straps. “Things are on the up after our poor start in the Night Series. We thought we had a good chance to make the finals but it just didn’t happen for us,” commented Tong, 28. “We have more players (this year) that are going to have a big influence on our season, I can’t wait for the league to start.”
Roki, who was appointed to the coaching position late last year, has overhauled the Balcatta and brought a new sense of optimism to the club. “Michael is a great guy and a coach who brings the best out of players,” Tong said. “In the Night Series he played two of our Under-18’s players, he gave them the opportunity and they both performed well. You know where you stand with Michael, it’s either the way he wants you to play or don’t bother being at Balcatta. So instead of the long ball game, he has given us confidence to play out from the back.”
Roki has been impressed with what he has so far seen of Tong and expects the big defender to figure prominently throughout the coming season. “Adam has the natural attributes of size and strength but also possesses great mobility for the ‘big man’ in the heart of the Balcatta defence,” said the coach. “He’s very comfortable on the ball and strong in the air which is what every coach is looking for in a central defender. He appears very focused on the season ahead and I am expecting a great year from him.”
Tong joined Balcatta this time last year following a lengthy career in England. “I started at Manchester City and also played for Plymouth Argyle, Preston North End, Burscough FC, Fleetwood Town, Bamber Bridge and FC United of Manchester before heading to Perth,” explained Tong, who has no regrets about moving down under. “I have settled into Perth quite well … One thing I definitely do not miss is the English weather!”
Tong has many fond memories of his time in the game. “Football was been a huge part of my life and I’ve had many highlights,” he said. “I was fortune to represent England College’s at Lilleshall which was a huge honour, and played in front of 42,000 fans at Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg. When I was with FC United we went to South Korea to play against a top side which was televised in front of eight million people and watched by 35,000, and came up against Milan Baros in a star-studded Liverpool team.”
“But probably my best highlight ended up being a nightmare,” Tong added. “It was a second round FA Cup tie against Burton Albion in 2006 when I was playing for Burscough. Whoever won played Manchester United at Old Trafford, and we had beaten League side Gillingham in the first round so we were confident. But only eight minutes in I broke my tibia and fibula, which was career threatening and ended my chances of signing again for Preston. It was a real blow for me, but as they say that’s football.”
NAVEN SEES POSITIVES IN GLORY YOUTH
A rollercoaster few months finally came to end last weekend for the Perth Glory Youth team. With a high turn around of players from last season and a much younger group to coach, Gareth Naven was aware of the challenges he was facing with a fresh bunch of teenagers. The season opened with back-to-back wins for Glory Youth, however, the teams fortunes weren’t quite so rosy for the remainder of the campaign with only four further victories scattered amongst their 20 outings.
Naven said playing for Glory Youth isn’t all about getting results. “The season is always about the player improving in areas of ball mastery, decision making (intelligence) and speed,” said the coach. “The strength of our team was they never quit, it didn’t matter if we were winning or losing they always responded well and they showed great spirit. I would like to congratulate every member of our group this year for their fantastic attitude both on and off the field and the football they played.”
Earlier this week midfielders Dean Evans and Cameron Edwards shared the youth teams’ players of the season trophy. “Congratulations to both Dean and Cameron on being joint winners of the Most Glorious Youth Player award,” Naven said. “Both are very talented players who have performed for the youth team over the past couple of seasons. “They’re ambitious players with great desire and dedication and are keen to take the next step into the A-League.”
Overall, Naven believes the team reached the goals they set themselves at the beginning of the season. “Collectively as a team we tried to achieve two things: control the opponent or dominate the opponent and from that, either the coaches or the playing group will provide solutions. I commend our players for always trying to do this,” said Naven. “It’s important to remember that Perth Glory’s youth team is an asset for the club. We must think about the future and not just tomorrow so our asset has a pathway to our A-League team.”
WILLIAMS BACK FROM BRINK (courtesy the ‘West Australian’)
Middlesbrough defender Rhys Williams says family and friends kept him on track during a long and frustrating recovery from the injury that wrecked his World Cup dream. The former ECU Joondalup player last week made his first appearance in ten months following an exhausting battle to overcome groin and pelvis problems. Williams’ 45-minute run in a reserve team match against Sheffield United will serve as the springboard for a return to Middlesbrough’s first team in the near future.
Williams, 22, said the frustrations of fighting to recover from injury - which included a three-month spell with a specialist in Adelaide - had been eased by the encouragement of his family and girlfriend. “It’s been horrible,” Williams told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “I’m lucky I had so long in Australia to recover. Then when I got back (to England) I’ve got a new house so I’ve had that to sort out. And I’ve got my girlfriend here and I’ve had family here and they’ve all helped.”
Given every chance to prove his fitness by then Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek, Williams left the Socceroos’ Johannesburg camp just ten days before Australia’s World Cup opener against Germany last June. “Missing the World Cup through injury isn’t quite out of my system just yet but it’s made me more hungry and more determined to get to the next one and show the country what I can do,” he said. “But my main goal now is to get back into Middlesbrough's first team before I even consider the national team.”
Williams, whose brothers Aryn (Burnley) and Ryan (Portsmouth) are following in his professional footsteps, is on the brink of returning as Middlesbrough approach a crucial stage of the season. Boro are just five points above the drop zone to League One, but Williams is confident his team can avoid a dogfight to stay in the Championship. “It’s not gone perfectly but we’ve got a new manager (former Celtic boss Tony Mowbray) in and he’s trying to put his stamp on things and we are already starting to see a change,” he said.
PYGRUM READY FOR NEW CHALLENGE AT SWAN
Midfielder Adam Pygrum has no doubts his new club, Swan United, will be a competitive force in Division One this year. Relegated from the top flight last year, Swan enter the season with a new-look squad that Pygrum rates as one of the best in the second tier. “The squad looks very strong, we have a lot of depth which is rare in Division One,” he said. “Training has been very competitive with everyone wanting to catch the eye. We have a good blend of experience and youth which is vital for any team wanting to win titles.”
Pygrum, 30, spent last season with Canning City so knows first hand how cut throat life can be in Division One. “It’s only a small season with 22 games so every point is vital, and with only one team going up it’s so important to get off to a good start,” he explained. “It was a two horse race last season between Bunbury Forum Force and Bayswater City, but looking at the teams this year I think it could be any from a group of five, including us.”
Coach John O’Reilly says Pygrum has a key role to play this year at Swan. “Despite his young looks he is one of our more experienced players and he brings a good calming effect to our squad,” O’Reilly said. “He has impressed in pre-season training, travelling a long distance with no transportation and showing strong commitment to the team. He is strong in the middle of the park, is a strong tackler and has great footwork … he will be a key squad member this season.”
Pygrum feels Swan are heading down the right track under first year coach O’Reilly. John is a great manager to play for, his enthusiasm in training can't help but rub off on you,” he said. “All the sessions are done at match pace and there's always a purpose to each exercise and drill. His attention to detail is very impressive and it’s these things that will help us get where we need to be as a team. With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work from us that will hopefully end in promotion.”
PERTH CLAIMS CHARITY SHIELD
Perth SC has lifted the season’s second piece of silverware by defeating Stirling Lions 1-0 in this evening’s Charity Shield match at Dorrien Gardens. An early second-half strike by defender Shaun Kilkelly was enough to give the Blues the trophy on a night when Stirling’s numerous opportunities on goal all went unconverted. Livewire attacker Ludo Boi collected the Alan Beale Medal for his best on ground performance, adding the award to his man-of-the-match honour fro last season’s State League Cup Final.
It took only 3 minutes for Stirling to fashion a chance on goal with Huss Awada picking out Dave Hunt whose strike from 9-metres was saved low by Devon Spence. Robbie Puca provided the ammunition moment later at the other end, the Perth captain’s free kick to the back post sent wide by Kilkelly. Openings continued to present throughout the half as the teams traded attacks. A Stirling attack put the ball with Phil O'Callaghan but his shot on the turn was too close to Spence.
On the half hour a Spence mis-judged a Ross Anderson free kick which Jason Gavin headed goalward only to have Kilkelly clear from on the line. Perth countered with Antonio Naglieri releasing David Onoforo, who found his way past goalkeeper James Turvill only for Paul Dugdale to prevent his shot from going in. Stirling finished the half strongly and would have had the lead had O’Callaghan been able to make better use of a Dugdale free kick.
Perth needed only five minutes of the second half to break the deadlock. A Puca corner was met at the back post by Simpson whose header was blocked by Hunt and Kilkelly reacted instantaneously by firing in the loose ball. Anderson could have put the teams back on level terms two minutes later but failed to hit the target from 5-metres after meeting a Dugdale corner. A poor 53rd minute clearance presented another opening for Perth, Andreas Oliveira playing in Vlad Naumovski whose shot thumped into the base of the upright.
Stirling stepped up the pace as the game entered the final half hour. Jamie Watt put a close range header high from Jamie De Abreu's delivery, and on 69 minutes Anderson went down under the challenge of Trent Kay with referee Hugh Best dismissing penalty appeals. With time running out Stirling were denied a clear penalty after O’Callaghan was felled by Kilkelly having jinxed his ways past three defenders. The final drama was the stoppage time dismissal of Perth defender Adam Bachiller for a harsh second yellow card.
Perth SC: Devon Spence, Trent Kay, Adam Bachiller, Craig Simpson, Shaun Kilkelly, Robbie Puca (Daniel Colletta 88), David Onoforo, Andreas Oliveira (Simon Wilson 90), Antonio Naglieri, Vlad Naumovski, Dom De Felice
Stirling Lions: James Turvill, Michael Pugliese, Jason Gavin, Ross Anderson, Ludo Boi, Jamie Watt, Phil O’Callaghan, Paul Dugdale (Jamie De Abreu 57), David Perich, Huss Awada (Gary Cullen 74), Dave Hunt Bookings: Bachiller (30), Perich (47), Boi (53), Anderson (69), O’Callaghan (85)
Dismissals: Bachiller (89)
Referee: Hugh Best
DESPOTOVSKI TAKES AIM
Perth Glory legend Bobby Despotovski has launched a stinging attack over the state of his former club, accusing those in charge of “taking the piss” out of owner Tony Sage. Glory finished second from bottom this season with Sage ordering a full review of club operations, however, Despotovski feels that step would not have been necessary if the right “football” people had been appointed to key roles. “They’re just sucking the blood out of this cash cow and one day Tony Sage is going to turn around and cut his losses,” Despotovski said last night on ‘Let’s Talk Football’. “Something is drastically wrong at this club because whoever is making the decisions is either taking the piss out of Tony Sage or taking the piss out the football public in Perth. If this were any other club anywhere in the world, the coaching staff by now would be completely gone.”
NEW HOME FOR GLORY?
Perth Glory should consider abandoning their traditional home ground of Perth Oval to slash costs and ensure the club's future viability, according to an independent review. Perth Oval has been home to Glory since the club entered the national league in 1996 but the club report, prepared by David Hatt, recommends moving away from the venue to save money. Glory owner Tony Sage said yesterday he had not yet read the entire contents of the report but that he intended to do so while en route to London overnight.
Sage was aware of a recommendation to shift Glory's home games away from Perth Oval to an alternative venue. "The one thing David made clear to me is that Perth Glory will never make money under the current structure," Sage told the 'West Australian' newspaper. "And I know that. But he said it's made worse by the deal we have with the stadium." Glory has in previous seasons played at Arena Joondalup, the WACA Ground and Subiaco Oval, but none of these venues were deemed suitable.
It's understood Glory pay more than $120,000 per game to play at Perth Oval, a figure that includes around $20,000 a match to bring in a video replay screen, which is an A-League requirement. "According to FFA rules we need a venue that can fit in 10,000 fans, so I'm interested to see where David thinks we can go," Sage said. Some of the major costs of playing at Perth Oval arise from security, the labour involved in ticket scanning, the setting up and removal of advertising signs as well as the absence of a video screen.
Former Glory owner Nick Tana, whose company Allia Venue Management runs nib Stadium, said the Government was in a position to address areas that made the venue expensive to use. "In light of the fact that the stadium is going to be redeveloped we'd like to think we'd get the opportunity to address (Glory's) concerns with the Government," Tana said. The next stage of the rectangular stadium master plan involves spending almost $90 million building a new eastern stand, which would increase ground capacity to 25,000.
THE EARLY BIRD (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show)
In what has been a depressing season for all Perth Glory fans, there have been few shining lights. However, one has to be the dedication and determination of 17-year old Sebit Oyet. With Perth Glory Youth team training sessions starting at 7.00am, all players were required to be at the University of Western Australia’s MacGilvray Oval by 6.30am.
Oyet lives in Kwinana and has no car. So he would rise at 4.30am and catch public transport for over an hour to be at training on time. Once training had finished he would reverse the process heading back to Kwinana. In this modern era of spoiled athletes it is great to see someone so dedicated. He is a credit to himself and the club, and hopefully will build on his performances this year and become more consistent and confident next year.
THE TIME IS RIPE FOR LOWRY TO SHINE
Shane Lowry is bracing himself for a decisive three months that will determine his future. The young defender made a great start to his loan spell at Sheffield United and although he has another eighteen more months left on his Aston Villa contract its likely manager Gerard Houllier will made a call on his future based on his time with the Blades. “It’s a big time for me now. I’m 21, I’m at a big club in the Championship so I’ve got to show people I’m capable of playing and not just have a good game here or there,” said Lowry.
Lowry, who turns 22 in June, is determined to use his Blades spell as a springboard to a spot in Villa’s starting line-up. “My goal is to go back to Aston Villa and break into the starting eleven,” he said. “I’ve been on loan a few times and I don’t mind because chances don’t come easy so you’ve got to show people you can play.” Houllier and assistant Gary McAllister will be keeping closing tabs on Lowry, who is hoping to help the third from bottom Blades avoid relegation.
COYNE HOPEFUL OF SYDNEY DEAL
Perth Glory defender Jamie Coyne will find out today whether he will join Sydney FC for their Asian Champions League campaign. Coyne, who is seeking compensation from Glory for an alleged breach of his contract, said his agent had spoken to the Sky Blues. "A decision hasn't been made yet and a deal has to be signed by tomorrow afternoon if it's going to happen," Coyne told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "Sydney is a big club. They haven't had a good year but they have great resources, they are set up really well and they are in the Asian Champions League." Sydney kick off their ACL campaign against Korea's Suwon Bluewings tomorrow week and also play Kashima Antlers (Japan) and Shanghai Shenhua (China) in the group phase.
ALAN BEALE MEDAL ANNOUNCED FOR CHARITY SHIELD
Spearwood Rovers and State legend Alan Beale will be recognised at this week’s Charity Shield match with the player judged best afield to walk away with a medal named in his honour. Beale’s son Brian will select the player of the match from Wednesday’s meeting of Perth SC and Stirling Lions and present him the Alan Beale Medal. “It’s just amazing to see him recognised like this, my dad was my hero,” Brian Beale said. “He was an unbelievably gifted player - he used to take corners off one step, left foot or right foot and would just score for fun. One season he scored 43 goals which is an amazing achievement and he also got over 600 in his career, he was just fantastic.”
Born in London in 1920, Beale devoted his life to local football for more than sixty years as a player, coach and administrator. He joined Spearwood Rovers as a teenager and in 1940 he was appointed team captain, a position he retained for the rest of his playing days. Beale guided Spearwood to Challenge Cup and Charity Cup success, represented the State on six occasions, and finished among the top three goal scorers in each of his thirteen seasons in the top flight. He was made a life member of the Soccer Federation of WA, was an inaugural inductee into the Football Hall of Fame Western Australia. Beale passed away on 6 May 2001. All gate proceeds from the Charity Shield clash between Perth and Stirling at Dorrien Gardens on Wednesday (7.00pm) go direct to Telethon.
LUCA BUZZING FOR NEW SEASON
Young Sorrento midfielder Adam Luca has set his sights on cementing a first eleven place with the Gulls as he moves on from a lengthy spell on the sidelines. A knee injury kept 21-year old Luca's out of action last year but with a solid pre-season under his belt and approaching full fitness the former Perth Glory Youth player is ready to make his Premier League comeback. "I'm really enjoying my football at Sorrento, there is a good buzz around the club ahead of the first league game next weekend," said Luca.
Luca labelled his injury-ruined 2010 a 'nightmare'. "I tore one of the tendons that connects the hamstring to the knee. It took the experts a while to figure out the problem and it was a very frustrating year on the sidelines for me," he said. "They seem to think it come about from me over-training during the off-season but thankfully Perth Glory physio Gary Russo sorted the problem out late last year and it's been fine since, touch wood."
New Sorrento boss Paul Price, a former professional with Luton Town, Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City, has instilled in the side a strong sense of self-belief according to Luca. "Pricey's a great boss, he's played at the top flight so he obviously knows his stuff," said Luca. "We all know exactly what he expects of us. From day one he's drilled a winning mentality into everyone and has got us playing good passing football which accommodates a lot of the ball players we have, and together with Steve Neville we're getting a good mix."
Sorrento shaped up for the coming season with a Night Series quarter final appearance which they followed with by defeating Stirling Lions in a friendly. "I thought we played well in the Night Series and our performance against the Lions was our best so far, everyone was up for it and it was a nice bonus to have a win," Luca explained. "It's still early days and we've got Jamie Harnwell, David Foster, Jared Love, James Morgan and Danny Cain to come into the squad ... we can't wait for the season to start."
This year will see National Training Centre compete in the Premier League for the first time. Luca, who honed his skills in the NTC under Kenny Lowe, says the move is a big step in the right direction for Western Australia's youngsters, and the State League. "I think they'll do well, it's a new concept in the league. We do have some class young players here in WA and the NTC is a fantastic programme with top coaching," said Luca, who played his junior days with Perth SC, ECU Joondalup and Stirling Lions.
Upon completion of his second season with the NTC, Luca stepped into the national arena with the Glory youth team for the summer of 2008/09. "My time with Glory Youth was a great experience for me and sure I would like to play in the A-League if the chance came," Luca said. "I think every player aspires to play at the highest level possible, but for the moment I'm just set on staying injury-free and establishing myself in the State League and doing well for Sorrento."
DJULBIC IS GOLD COASTS’ HERO
Gold Coast United scored a dramatic last-gasp 1-0 win after Dino Djulbic's stoppage-time header bundled Melbourne Victory out of the A-League championship race this afternoon. With a tense affair looking destined for extra time, defensive lynchpin Djulbic rose to meet a Peter Perchtold corner which headed brilliantly into the top corner of the net. "I said to Peter 'just put it on the penalty spot' and nodded to him, he nodded back and hit a beautiful ball which we'd been missing all day and I hit it in the top corner," said Djulbic, who rated the goal the best moment of his football career so far. Gold Coast will now visit Adelaide United in next weekend's round of finals.
MAROCCHI OFFERS SAGE ADVICE
Inaugural Perth Glory coach Gary Marocchi has added his voice to criticism of the team’s woeful season by calling for owner Tony Sage to heed the recommendations of an independent review to be handed over early next week. Sage will digest the findings of David Hatt’s report, which is expected to include an assessment of player recruitment, before revealing his plans for the future. Three weeks ago Sage said he would wait on the report findings before committing to a further season with the loss-making Glory.
Marocchi has urged Sage to act on Hatt’s recommendations as Glory attempt to recover from a horror campaign. “We all know there’s a problem. I just hope whatever comes up in the review is implemented by Tony Sage,” Marocchi told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “I’d like to see a local group take over the running of the football side of the club. If you look at it at the moment you’ve got a coach, assistant and football director who are all interstate guys. You haven’t got locals, who would have more passion for the game here.”
WILLIAMS NEARS BORO RETURN
The return to training of Rhys Williams has boosted Middlesbrough’s hopes of pulling clear of the English Championship relegation zone. Williams, 22, has not featured at all this season due to a pelvic problem suffered late last term, the same injury that forced him to miss Australia’s 2010 World Cup campaign. He took another step on a long road towards recovery by playing 45 minutes of a behind-closed-doors friendly with Sheffield United’s reserves. “Rhys looks like a fantastic athlete, who cruises around the pitch, so it will be great to have him available in the near future,” said manager Tony Mowbray. Middlesbrough are fifth from bottom in the Championship with 16 games to play.
BOLAND STEALS THE NIGHT FOR FLOREAT (by Peter Simcox)
A second half strike from teenager Liam Boland was enough to give Floreat Athena a 1-0 victory over ECU Joondalup in the final of the 2011 Night Series this evening at Dorrien Gardens. The big striker struck controversial 68th minute winner after Joondalup goalkeeper Andy Banks spilled a cross from Jack Allen. “I’m delighted to have scored the winner but it was a great team effort tonight,” Boland said. “We dominated early but didn’t take our chances and they came back into the game. We had a good chat at half time and we got our reward, it’s really great to get the win.”
Floreat opened brightly with their first chance on goal arriving after only 3 minutes when Miki Vujacic’s free kick found Paul Van Dongen who headed straight at Banks. Paul Van Dongen was involved again five minutes later when picked out by Jarred Smith with Banks this time pushing the midfielder’s header wide. Joondalup were struggling to cope with Floreat’s attacking approach and in the space of few minutes Boland twice had shot saved by Banks while Paul Van Dongen’s first time strike whistled narrowly wide.
Joondalup fashioned their first opening soon after, Chris Wyle combining with Jon Higgins, whose teasing cross was superbly cleared from off the toe of John Thornley by Ante Kovacevic. A quickly taken Boland free kick on the half hour released Van Dongen, whose first touch allowed Banks to get out and smother the shot. Joondalup were by now more in the game and on 37 minutes Oliver McGee’s powerful back post header from a Higgins corner was cleared off the line by Michael Van Dongen. The team from the north ended the half strongly with Scott Blackmore and Jake Benson-Cooper forcing good saves from Alex Dunn.
The introduction of Jack Allen at the break had an immediate impact for Floreat, the teenager delviering a pinpoint cross to the back post where Boland headed wide. With the game very much in the balance, chances began to open with increasing regularity at both ends of the park. Boland’s shot on the turn was saved by Banks, then five minutes later Benson-Cooper’s long-range shot beat Dunn but crashed off the crossbar. The decisive moment arrived in the 68th minute when Allen’s deep cross was spilled by Banks under pressure from Boland, who reacted by lashing the loose ball in from close-range.
Joondalup thought they had a penalty when Thornley appeared to be brought down by Dunn, but referee Mathew Cheeseman waved away all claims. It was the last play for Dunn, who exited the game with blood streaming from his face and Simon Madaschi taking over in goal. With time running out, Joondalup pushed forward in a desperate attempt to level the game. In the final minute of regulation time Madaschi brilliantly tipped around the post a shot by substitute Jordan Dodds, who deep in stoppage time was played in by McGee only to have the Floreat custodian dive full length to push away his shot.
Floreat coach Ante Kovacevic was delighted with his team’s performance. “It was a real team effort tonight. Liam scored the winner but the service from the midfield was excellent, the Van Dongen boys are as honest as they come, they are a great signing for me,” Kovacevic said. “We lost ‘keeper Alex with a nasty injury, but Simon Madaschi came on and made two great saves late on to keep us level. Like I said, a great all-round team performance, I’m delighted.”
By contrast, Joondalup coach Syd Amphlett couldn’t hide his disappoint. “We are all gutted to lose the game like that. I think 99% of the time that would have been given a free kick for a foul on the ‘keeper, but the referee saw nothing wrong with it, which was disappointing,” he said. “We were convinced we had a penalty when Thornley was brought down by the ‘keeper, but the referee saw a bit of blood and didn’t give it … to lose the game like that is frustrating.”
Floreat Athena: Alex Dunn (Simon Madaschi 75), Julian Madaschi, Jarred Smith, Miki Vujacic, Michael Van Dongen, Paul Van Dongen (Curtis Prior 80), Liam Boland, Matthew Spurling (Jack Allen 46), Garin Collins, Ante Kovacevic, Callum Fransz
ECU Joondalup: Andy Banks, Ben Kelly (Josh Brook 85), Chris Wylie, Oliver McGee, Ross Edwards, John Higgins, Scott Blackmore (Jordan Dodds 80), John Thornley, Jonathon Stynes, Jake Benson-Cooper (Max Pope 71), Ross Laing
Bookings: Vujacic (80)
Referee: Mathew Cheeseman
PERTH FINISH PRE-SEASON WITH A BANG! (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
Perth SC claimed third place in the 2011 Night Series after a comprehensive 5-2 demolition of Cockburn City in this evenings minor place play-off at Dorrien Gardens. A fantastic finish by Alex Digby put Cockburn into the early lead but Reece Loxley brought the teams level five minutes later with Greg Sharland tipping the balance in Perth’s favour before the break. David Onoforo sealed the game with three goals in fifteen minutes late in the second half, after which Rory Feely grabbed a consolation for the visitors.
Neither created much in the way of clear cut opportunities in the opening stages with Sharland’s deflected effort the only notable chance inside the first twenty minutes. But the game opened up after that and in quick succession Adrian Webster and then Anthony Pereira dragged efforts wide of the target. Cockburn’s reward came after 23 minutes when Digby picked the ball up wide on the left before cutting inside and unleashing a wonderful curling strike past goalkeeper Devon Spence.
However, the teams were back on level terms five minutes later, Perth breaking quickly down the right with Loxley smashing into the net at the near post. With this the home team lifted and they should have go in front moments later but Callum O’Connell shot straight at Dejan Aleksic after being played through. Perth’s supporters didn’t need to wait too much longer before Sharland’s brilliant 38th minute free kick crashing into the net, giving the host club a 2-1 advantage at the interval
Cockburn went on the attack quickly at the start of the second half and nice interplay around the box between Aaron Dos Santos, Feely and Pereira lead to the latter curling a low effort just wide. Moments later it was Perth should have put the game to bed but substitute Andreas Oliveira’s effort cannoned off the crossbar. Perth were enjoying the lions share of possession and creating by far the better chances, all of which went unconverted.
The Blues third goal finally arrived in the 69th minute when Antonio Naglieri’s ball over the defence allowed Onoforo to beat the offside trap to slot in at the near post. Perth continued the onslaught and six minutes later Onoforo turned the ball in after great work from substitute Robert Sciascia. Onoforo completed his hat-trick with seven minutes to play wit his teams fifth and final goal. However, Cockburn had the last say with Feely scoring in the 85th minute.
Cockburn City: Dejan Aleksic,. Samuel Carello,. Pavle Biserko,. Jason Godfrey,. Anthony Pereira (Johny Mirco 55), Aaron Dos Santos (Shintaro Ito 58) , Adrian Webster, Su Sung Yang, Rory Feely, David Araya, Alex Digby (Wesley Britz 55)
Perth SC: Devon Spence, Trent Kay, Adam Bachiller, Craig Simpson, Shaun Kilkelly, David Onoforo , Antonio Naglieri, Reece Loxley (Matt Danskin 45), Domenic De Felice, Calum O'Connell (Andreas Oliveira 45), Greg Sharland (Robert Sciascia 53)
Bookings: Webster (42), Oliveira (65), Biserko (65)
Referee: Paul Anderson
JOONDALUP AND FLOREAT PREPARE FOR BATTLE
Either ECU Joondalup or Floreat Athena will get their season off to a dream start by lifting the 2011 Night Series trophy following Saturday's evenings final at Dorrien Gardens (7.00pm). The season's first piece of silverware has long been the domain of Perth SC, but their elimination in last week's semi-finals opens the door for Joondalup to claim their first Night Series title. Standing in their way are a new-look Floreat side that has surprised many and is now on the verge of winning the pre-season tournament for the first time in over a decade.
Joondalup coach Syd Amphlett is tipping Saturday's game to be an absolute cracker. "We had two great games against Floreat at the end of last year and I'm sure this will be no different," he said. "Ante (Kovacevic) has had to bring in several new players due to an exodus, but looking at them on Sunday was surprised to see how well they had all slotted in. However, we have the nucleus of last year's side plus some key acquisitions and I believe we are a better side."
In making the final Joondalup disposed of Perth and Western Knights, the State League's two powerhouse clubs, in the knock-out phase. "The lads work rate against Perth was tremendous," said Amphlett of last weeks semi-final win. "We put them under a lot of pressure in the first half and could have perhaps been two-up before half time. Perth played some great football (in the second half) but we withstood the pressure." Joondalup veteran Dale McCulloch misses the final through injury along with import defender Charlie Comyn-Platt, who is overseas.
Taki Nicolaidis expects the Night Series decider to be very close. "Joondalup have beaten the top two teams from last year on the way to the final so it's no fluke (that they qualified)," said Floreat's assistant coach. "They are a very tall and strong team and playing with a lot of confidence. Credit to Syd and Andy (Petterson) for assembling a strong squad, I know we will need to be on our toes for a full 90 minutes if we are to win the final. We are expecting a very tough game."
Liam Boland and Garin Collins each scored twice when Floreat over-powered Cockburn City in the semi-finals. "We were very pleased with the teams' effort against Cockburn, especially after going a goal down early. We kept on playing and stuck to our game plan and it was a very disciplined team effort," Nicolaidis added. Defenders Jack Allen and Jarrad Smith are expected to return to the Floreat line-up after being absent for the Cockburn game, however, James Isaia remains sidelined with an ankle complaint.
TRIAL FOR THE STATE SCHOOLS TEAMS
Preparations for the 2011 Schools National Championship will ramp up next month with the commencement of trials for the Schoolboys and Schoolgirls squads. Western Australia has a strong record at the annual tournament with both teams being amongst the medal winners in recent years and State team coaches Alf Debono and Nicola Williams have plans to take their teams into the upper reaches of the table once again this year.
Competition for places in the Schools teams is always intense and Schoolboys manager Tony Campbell encourages all players to attend upcoming trials. "We know there are a lot of quality players out there and want them to trial as we really need the best of WA to compete," Campbell said. "New South Wales often have A-League youth players in their squad so this is a great chance for WA's youngsters to show what they can do."
WA has a strong track record at the Schools tournament. The Schoolboys have collected four medals - two silver and two bronze - in the last seven years while in 2009 the Schoolgirls claimed silver for their best ever placing. During that same period 23 West Australians have been selected to represent the nation at Schoolies level, amongst them Perth Glory Women trio Carys Hawkins, Jaymee Gibbons and Sadie Lawrence.
Initial trials for this year's Schools teams, who will travel to Adelaide in mid-August, start on 23 March at venues both north and south of the river. Players are encouraged to attend both sets of trials to maximise there chances of selection. Trials are open to all students attending high school and TAFE who are 19 or under as of 31 December 2011. Further information, including trial dates and venues, is available from School Sport WA.
FLOOD FRIENDLY CANCELLED
This weekend’s Flood Relief Appeal charity match between the Western Australia State team and Perth Glory has been cancelled due to predictions of extreme weather in Carnarvon. The decision to cancel the three-day trip was made by event organisers in consultation with the Bureau of Meteorology and Fire and Emergency Services Authority. “Our thoughts and best wishes are with all residents and businesses affected, some of which we have been dealing with closely and have come to know personally over the last few weeks planning this trip,” said Football West chief executive Peter Hugg. Football West and Glory are currently assessing alternative options to provide support to the Carnarvon and Upper Gascoyne regions.
JOONDALUP WON’T FALL AT THE FINAL HURDLE: MCGEE
Import defender Oliver McGee is the first to admit he doesn't know a great deal about Floreat Athena but remains confident nonetheless that ECU Joondalup will come out on top from this weekend's Night Series final. "I haven't seen much of Floreat so I don't really know what to expect but we are concentrating on our performance," said McGee. "If we play to our strengths then we should have a very good chance of coming away with the trophy. We haven't come this far to fall at the last hurdle, I can tell you that."
Joondalup qualified for their pre-season finale by upsetting Perth SC 2-1 in the semi finals. John Thornley continued his goal scoring run by firing Joondalup into the lead but just before the break that was negated by Greg Sharland. "In the first half we were on top and it was disappointing to concede the goal on the stroke of half time," said McGee, who was grateful for Max Pope's late winner. "Second half, Perth probably were the better side but we stuck to our guns, defended well and got a goal on the break."
Signed during the summer from Division One club Bunbury Forum Force, McGee has slotted neatly into the back four at Joondalup. "The setup is great and they're a good bunch of lads so I couldn't have asked for much more really," 23-year old McGee said of his new club. "The whole team are playing well but the back four plus Andy Banks, were pretty much strangers to each other before the night Series. We have gelled together from the word go as if we have been playing for a long time with each other."
The addition of McGee to the back four has brought added stability to the side according to coach Syd Amphlett. "Last year we conceded the most goals (in the league) so we had to reinforce the back four and have been delighted with the acquisitions we have made," the coach said. "Ollie is a tremendous player with a great attitude and has already been selected for the State team. Charlie Comyn-Platt is yet to play a game, so we now have competition for places and defenders whose first priority is not to concede goals."
One of Bunbury's star players last season, McGee says he didn't have to think too long when Joondalup came along with an offer to move up to the Premier League. "I loved playing with Bunbury and we should have been promoted (last season)," he said. "The chance to move to the Premier League was my aim this year and I think I made the right decision to join Joondalup. Also I'm looking at obtain a permanent visa to keep me in Perth/Australia which I'm still working on, but hopeful I will get."
McGee has enjoyed his introduction to top flight football in Western Australia and feels confident Joondalup have it in them to finish a little higher up the Premier League table than the fifth place gained last season. "Our squad is good and we look to have strength in depth, two players in each position, so it keeps players on their toes," reasoned the defender. "It's a good mix of youth and experience and I believe we should be up there competing come the end of the season."
COLLINS SEEKS REDEMPTION
Victory for Floreat Athena in this weekend's Night Series finale will go a long way towards helping Garin Collins erase the bitter memories of his last appearance in the finale of the pre-season tournament. Three years ago Collins, 31, was part of the Floreat side that went down to Perth SC in a penalty on a nght the 31-year old striker would much rather forget. "It's a massive game for me on Saturday, I owe the club one," he commented. "I cost Floreat the Night Series in 2008 by missing a penalty with not long to go in normal time. That still haunts me to this day. I hope I can help repay the club by making sure we win it this year."
With a injury-plagued 2010 with ECU Joondalup behind him, Collins is enjoying his second spell with Floreat. "It's great to be back at Floreat and get a second chance that I never thought I would get. It's a great atmosphere with very good players and you need to be at your best or you'll miss out on a spot," Collins said. "Last season was one to forget for me. I had a cartilage clean up on my knee and then did my hammy towards the end if my time with Joondalup. Both are fine now, but age is starting to take its toll along with shift work and it's taking longer to recover after a game."
Collins scored a brace last weekend to help Floreat get past Cockburn City 4-1 in the semi finals. "It's always great to get on the score sheet but they were put on a plate by Paul van Dongen and Liam Boland, they did the hard work and I was in the right place at the right time," said Collins. "Cockburn played some of the best football I've seen this year and are a very good side. Luckily our defence and midfield were up to the task and we took our chances. The sending off (of Paul Natale) played a big part and I'm sure it will be a lot closer the next time we meet."
Taki Nicolaidis, Floreat's assistant coach, is delighted Collins will once again call Litis Stadium home and hopes the striker can continue to bang in the goals. "With a lot of new faces to the club this year we wanted to balance up the list with some experienced guys along with some young blood. Garin has settled in to his second stint with us as if he hadn't left. His 'winner' mentality is rubbing off on the squad and has showed some very good leadership," commented Nicolaidis.
Collins has no doubt coaches Ante Kovacevic and Nicolaidis have got the mix right for the season ahead. "The squad is looking good, AK and Taki have put together a team as opposed to individuals. The changes have brought a freshness and new hunger and I think that has already shown on the pitch," said Collins. "They (Kovacevic and Nicolaidis) know the game inside out and make sure the players are always learning and improving. You can't rest on your laurels though, because they're the first to tell you to pull your finger out. They demand high quality and hopefully we can deliver it."
A QUESTION OF HONOUR (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show)
Last July the 'Not the Footy Show' questioned the selection of visa players in the Western Australia State team. We went on record as saying that if non-residents are to be selected in representative Western Australia teams then that side should be called a 'State League team'. This belief based on the fact that you are failing to honour the rich history that the Western Australian State team has built up over 100-plus years, and also as you should at least be a resident of Australia to be afforded that honour. It seems that those charged with running the game here feel very differently, or maybe it is a case of them being totally out of touch with the game's history and tradition.
It was Thomas Jefferson who said "nobody can acquire honor by doing what is wrong" and sadly this will be reflected in the game being played this weekend. Coach Robbie Dunn is taking what many view as a 'State League Select XI' to Carnarvon to play Perth Glory, yet Football West has advised that this team will go down in the history books as an official State team. Without taking anything away from those who have been selected, this is quite simply wrong. Floreat Athena and ECU Joondalup are contesting the Night Series final on the same night and therefore players from those teams were not considered. In addition two local Carnarvon players will play for the 'State team', players the coach has never seen play and did not select. It is time that State team became the honour it always was with only residents of Australia eligible for selection, and games organized when all the best players are available.
HISTORY FAVOURS PHOENIX SAYS WARD
Nick Ward has tipped Wellington Phoenix to shrug off the travel factor and get the better of Adelaide United in tomorrow's A-League elimination final at Hindmarsh Stadium. Ward said Wellington would be confident of setting up a semi final showdown against his former club, Melbourne Victory, despite going to Adelaide as the underdog. "We'll be confident against Adelaide because we've beaten them twice this year," he said. "The boys played well in the last game and I just feel pretty comfortable playing against Adelaide."
Despite having experienced a heavy travel schedule during his Perth Glory days, Ward has felt the impact of travelling more with Wellington. "When I was with Perth I was a young kid and nothing fazes you," said Ward, who joined the New Zealand club in September in pursuit of more game time. "But it's been different this season with having to go through (international) Customs, it means you are sitting around a lot longer."
It has not been a smooth passage to the finals for Wellington, who left it late to secure their spot, while Ward, who is most suited to central midfield, has not been entirely settled in coach Ricki Herbert's team. "I've been playing on the right, which is a bit frustrating because I'm out of position. But I think I've been doing a reasonable job," he said. "In the last few games I've played centrally and I think I've been better. But it's always good to be part of the finals."
MITCHELL HITS BACK AT DESPOTOVSKI
A war of words has broken out between Perth Glory legend Bobby Despotovski and the club’s director of football, Dave Mitchell. It began with Despotovski, who won four Most Glorious Player awards and represented Australia during his ten seasons with the club, questioning whether Mitchell is the man to help rebuild the club considering his lack of on-field success across three years as Glory coach before moving into the director of football role . This prompted Mitchell to hit back, saying Despotovski is not qualified to comment on the clubs recruitment policy.
Despotovski made clear his feelings towards Mitchell. “I can only judge him by the results and the results haven’t been there. How the hell he gets another year extension and works for the club is beyond me,” said Despotovski. “It can only happen in Australian football that you’re on the bottom of the league, you spend up to four million dollars to assemble the squad and you are second bottom … We went from (a crowd of) 16,000 (in Round 1) down to 5.500 on the weekend. Not only that, we lose nine in a row.”
Mitchell didn’t hold back in returning fire. “Does he know that I was not in charge for all these comments that he has made?” Mitchell said. “I never came second bottom. I never lost nine games in a row. Fact, I was the first coach to get (Perth) into the finals. Fact, I have my coaching licence. Fact, I have won the championship as top of the League with Sydney United. Fact, I have won coach of the year … Is Bobby the answer? He has not even got his coaching licence.”
STATE SQUAD NAMED FOR GLORY
Western Australia coach Robbie Dunn has selected a 14-player squad to play Perth Glory in the Flood Relief Appeal charity match in Carnarvon on Saturday night. Dunn and his assistant Andy Thorburn based their selections on Night Series performances with Western Knights the best represented team with four players named. The squad also features two players from Carnarvon, Andrew Andreoli and Yarren Raven, who are expected to start on the bench.
Dunn says his players will be looking to prove a point against Perth Glory, who defeated the State team 3-1 when they met last July. “There is a mix of youth experience and a bit of speed so hopefully the boys will give a good account of themselves,” said Dunn. “We only managed to squeeze in one session but the enthusiasm shown by the players to make themselves available at such short notice is fantastic.”
The friendly will be played at Festival Grounds in Carnarvon, with all profits going directly to the Flood Appeal. “Everyone is really excited to be able to represent Football West and show the Carnarvon people that we have been thinking about them down here in Perth,” added Dunn. “The players just want to put on a good show and do their little bit to support them where they can.”
The Western Australia squad to play Perth Glory on Saturday 19 February is Daniel Micevski, John Migas (Balcatta), Andrew Andreoli, Yarren Raven (Carnarvon), Marc Anthony, Adrian Webster (Cockburn City), Jeff Bright, Phil Straker (Mandurah City), Adam Bachiller, Ian McMurray (Perth SC), David Perich, Michael Pugliese (Stirling Lions), David Annall, Luka Jukic, Callum Roberts and Simon Versaico (Western Knights).
GARCIA ON ROAD TO RECOVERY
Richard Garcia faces a fight for his spot at English Championship club Hull City as he prepares to return from injury. A minor operation on his knee in December forced Garcia out of Australia’s Asian Cup squad, however, the 29-year old attacker is now close to full fitness and expected to return to action towards the end of this month. “Vito (Mannone) and Garc have been training outdoors,” Hull assistant boss Craig Shakespeare said. “I would expect both to be a week or two away now which is good because we want competition for places. It might cause a few headaches in certain areas but from the club’s point of view we can’t wait to have them back.”
FOUR GO AS GLORY SWING THE AXE
Four more Perth Glory players have received the chop as the club goes about rebuilding for the summer of 2011/12. Defender Naum Sekulovski, who joined Glory for the inaugural A-League season, along with youngsters Brent Griffiths, Howard Fondyke and Anthony Skorich were informed this morning by coach Ian Ferguson they would not be required next season. "I'd like to thank these players for their contribution at Perth Glory," Ferguson said. "Given the performance of the team this season, changes need to be made." In the past two months ten players - Aleks Vrteski, Andrija Jukic, Michael Baird, Andy Todd, Tando Velaphi and Jamie Harnwell - have now parted company with Glory.
Glory have already recruited defensive trio Danny Vukovic, Dean Heffernan and Evan Berger for next season. "We are now in a rebuilding phase and the three signings we have already made for next season are exciting," commented the coach. "All three players have represented Australia at various levels and we will continue to make tough decisions with our squad to turn around an unacceptable season." Glory have also agreed terms with Adelaide United captain Travis Dodd and are understood to be close to signing New Zealand striker Shane Smeltz, a two time A-League Golden Boot winner, from Gold Coast United.
STATE LEAGUE CUP DRAWN
There’ll be plenty of giant-killing opportunities in the opening round of the 2011 State League Cup, which was drawn on Friday at the Football West offices. Amongst the highlights of round one are Forrestfield United’s home fixture with Sorrento, amateur club Joondalup United verses Armadale, and Division One champions Bayswater City against a new-look Balcatta. There are two other all-Premier League games with Inglewood United meeting Cockburn City, and Mandurah City taking on ECU Joondalup.
Sunday League side Fremantle Croatia faces a difficult assignment against Perth SC, likewise Spearwood Dalmatinac who meets Cup holders Stirling Lions at Macedonia Park. Floreat Athena have home ground advantage over Division One side Ashfield, and Western Knights journey to Swan United. State League newcomer Shamrock Rovers are pitted against Belmont Villa, Gosnells City hosts Morley Windmills, and Canning City take on Dianella White Eagles.
Kingsway Olympic will fancy their chances on home soil to Fremantle Spirit. There won’t be much separating UWA-Nedlands and Bunbury Forum Force, while Murdoch University are drawn against Wanneroo City. Queens Park, who dropped down to the Sunday League last year, will match skills with Rockingham City. All Round One State League Cup games are scheduled for the afternoon of Monday 7 March. The 2011 State League Cup final is pencilled in for Saturday 20 August.
BRISBANE CONTINUE SEASON DOMINATION
Brisbane Roar have won critical acclaim from the rest of the A-League for their sensational season by dominating the Professional Football Association’s team of the season. Seven Brisbane players were selected in the starting eleven with Ange Postecoglou picking up the Coach of the Year with more than 70% of the vote, which is made by the competitions’ players. In finishing top of the A-League table Brisbane lost just once in 30 outings, and will enter this weekends finals series unbeaten in their past 25.
Former Australia striker Mark Viduka became just the fourth recipient of the Alex Tobin medal, the PFA’s most prestigious honour, joining Johnny Warren, Joe Marston and Craig Johnston. Newcastle Jets defender Ben Kantarovski, retiring Perth Glory veteran Jamie Harnwell and former Socceroo Ross Aloisi were all awarded PFA scholarships in recognition of their success and determination in preparing for a career outside of professional football. Matthew Breeze was named Referee of the Year.
FOWLER WANTS TO COACH GLORY
Robbie Fowler has put his hand up for a coaching role at Perth Glory next season. Glory ended their worst-ever campaign with another thrashing last night, going down 4-0 to Newcastle Jets, and Fowler, who is in talks over a new deal to stay on a player, wants to do his bit to help turn things around. "I've said for years that I want to keep playing for as long as I possibly can, but I've also started looking at coaching. I've got my B licence and I'm looking to get my A qualification," he said. "It would be good to help out in an assistant coaching role of some sort at Perth Glory."
Glory won a paltry five games from 30 this season, with Fowler finishing top scorer with nine goals. "We can make all sorts of excuses for what went wrong this season but results don't lie. Perth Glory have finished the season second last on the table because results have not been good enough," he said. "Expectations were very high before the season and we failed to live up to them. On a personal level, I've been relatively pleased with the way I've performed this year. Admittedly, I haven't scored as many goals as I would've liked, but I feel like I've contributed to the team."
FLOREAT DEMOLISH TEN-MAN COCKBURN
Floreat Athena booked their place in next weekend's Night Series final with an emphatic 4-1 defeat of Cockburn City in the twilight fixture at 6PR Stadium. Liam Boland and Garin Collins each scored twice to put Floreat within 90 minutes of their first Night Series title in over decade. However, the win was not without controversy after Cockburn were reduced to ten men with the dismissal of defender Paul Natale a minute before half time.
Cockburn could not have dreamed of a better start, Rory Feely capitalising on Ante Kovacevic's defensive error by wrong-footing goalkeeper Alex Dunn and coolly slotting into the net with only 5 minutes gone. Michael Van Dongen had an almost instantaneous response for Floreat but his header was narrowly wide from a deep Jarred Smith cross. However, parity was soon enough restored with Boland slamming his penalty kick straight down the middle after referee Kevin Taylor ruled handball against Adrian Webster in the 13th minute.
Play had only just resumed when Dejan Aleksic made sure there'd be no quick second goal for Floreat, the young 'keeper's sensational save thwarting a drive from outside the 18-yard box by Boland. Floreat attacked relentlessly for the remainder of the half and should have had another but Boland sprayed a golden opportunity well wide of the upright. Cockburn's hopes were dealt a savage blow a minute from the break when referee Taylor sent off Natale, ruling the defender struck Boland on the face during a heated confrontation.
The second half was two minutes old when Floreat made the most of their numerical advantage, Boland's powerful shot on the turn clipping the glove of Aleksic on its' way into the net. With Cockburn a man and now also a goal down, captain Webster attempted to inspire his team with some quality distribution from the middle of the park. With their team in the box seat, Collins and Paul Van Dongen continually put pressure on their opponents defence as Floreat sought to add to their tally.
The result was put beyond doubt in the 69th minute when Miki Vujacic turned the ball over in midfield and played through to Boland whose centring pass was crisply despatched into the net by Collins on the half-volley. The icing was put on Floreat's cake three minutes later when some great lead up work by brothers Paul and Michael Van Dongen had the latter squad to the back post where Collins vicious first time strike gave Aleksic no chance.
JOONDALUP UPSET PERTH TO MAKE FINAL (with Jordan McArdle, Football West)
Teenage attacker Max Pope came off the bench to snatch ECU Joondalup a 2-1 Night Series semi-final victory over Perth SC in this evening's late game at 6PR Stadium. John Thornley fired Joondalup into the lead midway through the opening period only to have Greg Sharland equalise in first half stoppage time. It was looking as though the game would go to extra time when Pope conjured an 87th minute winner and give Joondalup the opportunity of getting their hands on the Night Series trophy for the first time in the club's history.
Joondalup attacked from the opening whistle with striker John Thornley creating a number of opportunities as he ran rings around the Perth defence. David Onoforo had Perth's best chance midway through the period but after getting past two defenders goalkeeper Andy Banks proved up to the task with a fine save. Thornley broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute, wrong footing 'keeper Devon Spence to net his eighth goal of the tournament. The break was just moments away when Sharland unleashed a sensational strike to send the teams in at one-all.
Perth came out for the second half with all guns blazing. Sharland fired agonisingly wide of the target and Onoforo was thwarted by Oliver McGee's superbly timed tackle as Banks showed his class between the posts with a string of important saves. Joondalup were playing chiefly on the counter attack with the run of Jon Higgins and Jake Benson-Cooper causing the opposing defence some headaches. With three minutes of regulation time left Pope settled the tie with a spectacular strike that deflated Perth's hopes of a sixth consecutive Night Series crown.
Post-game, Joondalup coach Amphlett praised star striker Thornley, who has now scored eight goals in five night Series outings. "John is going to play A-League, I keep saying that, but not quite yet," Amphlett said regarding 23-year old Thornley. "He's an in-form player but he can't score these goals without the efforts of his teammates. I think the work rate of young Benno (Jake Benson-Cooper) and Higgsy (Jon Higgins) has been phenomenal." Joondalup will meet Floreat Athena in the 2011 Night Series final next weekend at Dorrien Gardens.
BURNS HAILED THE MOST GLORIOUS
Perth Glory captain Jacob Burns has been crowned the Most Glorious Player in front of more than 500 guests at last night’s club awards ceremony. Burns finished with 28 votes after picking up maximum votes from seven games this season to finish ahead of departing goalkeeper Tando Velaphi, who came in runner-up with 20 votes. “It’s really very humbling to win the MGP but special praise must go to all the members in the squad,” Burns said. “Football is a team game and without the support of my team mates nothing is possible.”
Scott Neville finished third in the main award but didn’t go away empty handed. The 21-year old, whop captained the side on several occasions in Burns’ absence, picked up trophies for the Supporters’ Player of the Year, the Players’ Player of the Year and Clubman of the Year. Midfielder Adriano Pellegrino was awarded the Volunteers Player of the year while Robbie Fowler collected the Bobby Despotovski Golden Boot as the club’s leading scorer with nine goals.
NILSSON WINS GLORY WOMEN’S TOP AWARD
Perth Glory Women defender Alexandra Nilsson scooped the pool at last night’s club awards ceremony. The Swedish international capped a superb debut season in the heart of defence by winning the Most Glorious Women’s Player and Player’s Player of the Year trophies. “I have to thank everybody involved in the team to help me do this,” the 24-year old said. “Good players, good coach, good staff - everybody has been fantastic and I’ve loved being in Perth. Now I will head back to Sweden, but I have no regrets from my time in Perth and maybe I’ll be back again next season, but we will see.”
Coach John Gibson says Nilsson was the stand out player for his side this season. “Alexandra was a consistent performer over the course of the season and a fabulous acquisition to the group this year,” he said. “She (Nilsson) is very professional and coachable - a quality person who has been an absolute delight to have with Perth Glory. “Alexandra was recruited and recommended via Kate Gill and there is no doubt that she is a deserved winner of the Most Glorious Player award.” The Golden Boot was shared between Kate Gill and Sam Kerr, who each netted three times in season 2010/11.
DE VANNA DELIGHT IN GRAND FINAL WIN
Brisbane Roar consolidated their position as one of the W-League’s powerhouses by defeating Sydney FC 2-1 in this afternoon’s Grand Final at Campbelltown Stadium. Perth-born striker Lisa De Vanna came off the bench to break the one-all deadlock in the 65th minute, giving Brisbane their second Grand Final win three years. “I am so proud of my girls, they pulled through and we deserved this one hundred percent,” said Brisbane captain Clare Polkinghorne. “We came out here and showed what football we can play and full credit to the girls.”
Brisbane Roar made the early running and in the 10th minute that approach paid dividends with Tameka Butt guiding her header past goalkeeper Dimi Poulos from a Lana Harch cross. Kyah Simon and Kylie Ledbrook’s weren’t far from putting Sydney back on level terms, while at the other end Harch placed wide with only Poulos to beat. Sydney equaliser in the 34th minute through Ledbrook, whose shot from distance rebounded off the far post and into the net. Injury to Harch saw De Vanna make an earlier than expected entrance just before the break.
An end-to-end start to the second period had Dumont deny Simon and Ledbrook in between a De Vanna attempt that was saved by Poulos. With 65 minutes on the clock Brisbane edged in front with De Vanna getting the better of Danielle Brogan before beating an exposed Poulos with a cool finish. Brisbane built on that momentum but a third goal eluded them despite good openings for De Vanna and Kennya Cordner. The drama continued right up to the end as Sydney won a trio of stoppage time corners, all of which went unconverted.
RICH FOUNDATION BUT POOR OUTCOME FOR GLORY (with Jonathon Cook, the ‘West Australian’)
Perth Glory’s appalling 2010/11 campaign proved that money alone does not guarantee success, even just a slither. Owner Tony Sage says he has lost about $7 million on the club since beginning his football venture in 2007, and this season he spent more than ever in search of an elusive title. “We’ve spent more on our football department than any other club,” Sage said. “So to sit through some of those games was extremely frustrating and disappointing.”
Robbie Fowler’s arrival in Perth was seen as a marketing coup and more than 16,000 fans flocked to nib Stadium to watch his first game. It was also hoped Fowler, who is believed to have earned about $600,000 for the season, would provide the goals needed to turn Glory into genuine title contenders. Instead, Glory slumped to second last and by the end of the season the average attendance was 8488, down from 9209 the previous season.
Fowler, 35, finished the season with nine goals in 28 appearances, including three penalties and a hat-trick against Melbourne Victory in November. Sage, who is yet to decide whether he will continue with the club next season, was pleased with Fowler’s contribution and will spend time in Thailand with the striker next week to discuss a new deal, which could include an assistant coaching role.
On his return from Asia next week, Sage will also digest the findings of a review into the club by former Fremantle Dockers chief executive David Hatt before plotting the way ahead or pulling the pin. “Every position in the club will be looked at in the review,” Sage said. “I can guarantee there will be a Perth Glory next season but I can’t 100 per cent guarantee my involvement.”
Sage has spoken to potential investors but his preference is to go alone if he sticks around. “To fix this, I need Football Federation Australia on side, I need the State Government on side and I need the fans on side,” he said. Sage has clashed with the FFA before, often over Glory’s travel and accommodation bill. He complains, too, about the cost of playing at nib Stadium and the absence of adequate administration facilities.
Meanwhile, the football department is based at AK Reserve. It is hardly a recipe for success and the club’s off-field status has been reflected in team performances. After starting the campaign unbeaten in five games, Glory slid from early leaders to second last on the A-League table. It was the club’s worst season in so many respects. The ten red cards Glory collected was the most any team had received in a single A-League season.
The seven straight losses, which had started during Dave Mitchell’s reign as coach and prompted his move to the newly-created position of director of football, was the worst sequence in the club’s history. Under Ian Ferguson, who has a handshake agreement with Sage to continue next season, the horror spell continued. Thursday night’s 4-0 capitulation at Newcastle was Glory’s fourteenth successive away game without a win by a team that often lacked the mobility and pace to threaten in attack.
There have been so many lessons to be learnt, many of which will be highlighted in Hatt’s report. The recruitment of ageing players on long, expensive contracts has put Glory in a difficult position for next season. Australian marquee player Mile Sterjovski, 31, who has failed to live up to expectation, often-injured midfielder Victor Sikora, 32, and rarely-used striker Branko Jelic, 33, have a year to run on their deals.
If Glory are to achieve longer-term improvement, they must make better use of local youngsters, which will also help the bottom line financially. Teenage striker Adam Taggart’s emergence late in the season, the regular appearance Josh Risdon (18) and the persistence of Scott Neville were among the few highlights this season. Generally, though, Glory’s image has taken a battering and the perception is unlikely to improve in the coming months as Jamie Coyne seeks compensation after being suddenly dropped.
FOUR TO BECOME TWO IN NIGHT SERIES RACE
The Bam Creative Night Series field has been slimmed to four teams and by the end of the weekend only two will remain in the hunt for the first piece of silverware for 2011. Floreat Athena and Cockburn City (5.00pm) lock horns in the opening semi-final on Sunday at 6PR Stadium. David Houston came off the bench last week to score Floreat's stoppage time winner against Sorrento and assistant coach Taki Nicolaidis knows his team will once again be pushed to the limit. "Cockburn are a very good team filled with a good balance of experienced and young players," said Nicolaidis. "They have been in great form during the competition and we will need to be at our very best to get past them."
Cockburn edged out Stirling Lions last week with Rory Feely and Johny Mirco scoring at either end of an exciting contest. Assistant coach Richard Francisco watched Floreat last weekend and knows they aren't to be taken lightly. "Floreat will be a real test for our lads .. they are hard to break down so we'll have to be at our best," said Francisco, who is keen to re-establish Cockburn as a major player on the local scene. "It gives us a chance to be taken seriously as a club again, it's no secret that our last two seasons have not been good. So a good performance here will go a long way to doing that."
The late semi final has Perth SC, who are shooting for a sixth successive Night Series trophy, up against ECU Joondalup (7.15pm). The Blues thumped Inglewood United 7-1 in the quarter final round and coach Ronnie Campbell says Joondalup presents a new challenge. "It will be a difficult game as ECU are playing well and are scoring plenty of goals," Campbell said. "The last two games we have been scoring goals and the most pleasing thing is it wasn't just the strikers scoring them. I've also been delighted with the defence, I've tinkered with the formation and the guys have responded terrifically."
Joondalup coach Syd Amphlett, whose team accounted for Western Knights last weekend, is looking forward to playing Perth. "I regard them as the benchmark of everything good in the league," said Amphlett, who made it clear the time has come for Joondalup to get their hands on a trophy or two. "I hope Perth are aware that this is a new ECU Joondalup side, we have the same desire we have always had but with a new determination. We are striving to be more professional in all aspects and are looking to finally win something, rather than accept mediocrity."
A-LEAGUE IS ONE OF GARCIA’S OPTIONS
Socceroo Richard Garcia may sacrifice a return to the Premier League if a suitable A-League offer is forthcoming. After playing professional football for the past fourteen years in England, 29-year old Garcia says he'd be more than happy to return to Australia. "It's crossed my mind and home's home, so if the right offer came I would look at it," said Garcia, who is out of contract at seasons' end. "I want to be able to go back with something to offer, not at 34 or 35 when I'll be over the hill. I feel like I'm just starting to hit my peak, so hopefully that continues for the next few years and it can help my club and the national team. But I want to go to a club that is ambitious and wants to win the league."
With Hull sitting seven points outside the Championship playoff zone, Garcia admits he'd love another shot at playing in England's top flight. "We're doing not too bad and I'm still ambitious and would love to play in the Premier League again," said Garcia, who will resume training next week following time on the sidelines with a knee injury. "But I've got to see what's best for me and my family. Regardless of where I end up, I'll always be hungry. I've been ambitious to be at the top and be the best I can be. That will not change."
Garcia started out with Perth SC and at the age of 15 joined the academy program at West Ham United where he made only a handful of senior appearances during a five-season stay. The attacking midfielder established himself as a first team at Colchester United, where he played three seasons, before signing with Hull in 2007. Garcia finally returned to the Premier League in 2008 with the Tigers, making his Socceroos debut the same year and since consolidating himself as a green and gold regular. He was part of Australia's squad at last years World Cup but was ruled out of their recent Asian Cup campaign by injury.
THORNLEY WANTS TO BURST PERTH’S BUBBLE
ECU Joondalup striker John Thornley has struck a rich vein of form with successive hat-tricks to take his club into this weekend’s Night Series semi-finals. He backed up a thee-goal haul in the final group phase outings with Swan United by bagging all the goals in last weekend’s 3-2 win over Western Knights, a result Thornley says served as good preparation for their round of four meeting with Perth SC on Sunday. “It was a great win against the Knights. We were underdogs but we proved even with five players out we can still beat any team in the league,” Thornley said. “Perth’s going to be a big test, if we take our chances we have a good chance of winning.”
You might think the off-season defection of Jamie Watt and Phil O’Callaghan, both to Stirling Lions, will leave Joondalup a little light on in the final third but that’s far from the truth according to Thornley. “Phil and Jamie definitely left big shoes to fill but we have a few young players like Jake Benson-Cooper and Max Pope who can do a job up-front. They now have a chance to make a name for themselves,” commented Thornley, who considers his pre-season run of goals a bonus. “I’m glad to keep scoring - each week I’m trying to get fitter and sharper the goals are just a bonus - but I’m more happy with the way the team is playing.”
Joondalup leaked goals at an alarming rate last season and to make sure that doesn’t happen again coach Syd Amphlett has bolstered his defensive options. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Charlie Comyn-Platt, Chris Wylie and Jon Higgins this year will be new arrivals Oliver McGee, Ross Edwards and Ben Kelly, who’ve been signed from Bunbury Forum Force, Cockburn City and Armadale, respectively. “All three were excellent last week (against the Knights),” Thornley said. “They have come straight into the side and look comfortable as ever. They are big lads with good pace and passing, I’m very glad to have them at our club.”
In addition to astute recruitment, senior coach Amphlett and assistant Andy Petterson have promoted from with the clubs youth ranks with Jonathon Stynes and Josh Brook giving good accounts of themselves in pre-season. “No club in the league brings young players through like ECU,” Thornley said. “With the older heads such as Dale McCulloch, Charlie Comyn-Platt, Jon Higgins and Scott Blackmore we have a perfect mix of youth and experience. All the players have a tremendous respect for both Syd and Andy, which is important. They have brought in the right players and also kept good players.”
As a teenager Thornley trialed with English club Birmingham City and last season turned out for Altona Magic in the Victorian Premier League. The talented striker is hopeful his knack for turning chances into goals will lead to further opportunities, be it interstate or overseas. “I’d definitely take any chance to play full time as it’s something I still wish to do,” said Thornley, before confirming his allegiance this season to Joondalup. “But at this stage I play for ECU and that’s all I’m thinking about. I turned down a lot of clubs over the summer to stay at ECU because I love the club. I believe we can win the league, otherwise I wouldn’t have stayed.”
VICTORY EASIER SAID THAN DUNN
If Alex Dunn does his job this weekend Floreat Athena will be on the cusp of their first pre-season trophy in over a decade. However, the Floreat goalkeeper is well aware there’s a lot of hard work ahead if his team are to get the better of Cockburn City in Sunday’s Night Series semi-final at 6PR Stadium. “It will be a really tough game. Cockburn have looked the goods so far, they have a good midfield and Johnny Mirco and Rory Feely seem to be linking up well together,” said Dunn. “It’s a chance for both teams to make the final and we will all have to be on our game to keep (former team mate) Mirc’s from scoring against us.”
Dunn, 24, had no complaints with the manner in which Floreat ground out a 1-0 win over Sorrento in last week’s round of eight. “Sorrento is always a tough opponent and with Paul Price coaching there we knew they would be even stronger in defence and well organised,” Dunn commented. “The windy conditions didn’t help either team and I think the pitch is at least three weeks away from being ideal, so it was a scrappy game with not many chances. Luckily the one clear cut chance we have, Dave Houston was able to finish it.”
It’s been a new-look Floreat line-up that has kicked off 2010 with a four-game unbeaten streak. “We lost eight from our starting side from last year, for any team that is a massive loss. But we have moved on and AK (coach Ante Kovacevic) and Taki (Nicolaidis) have been very busy building a team that will be competitive,” Dunn explained. “It’s always good to get new faces into the club to freshen things up and bring different elements to the game. But being undefeated in the Night Series is just a bonus. We are not getting ahead of ourselves - it’s a long season.”
Dunn has been particularly been impressed by new striker Liam Boland, returning attacker Garin Collins and 16-year old defender Jack Allen, who steps up from Floreat’s youth team. “Jack has started all four games for us and played brilliantly,” commented Dunn. “Liam has been great for us so far, his enthusiasm is great to see and he’s always looking at improving his game. Garin is no stranger to Floreat - he’s back for his second stint. He is a good character to have around the club and he brings a little bit extra to the team on game day.”
Nicolaidis, Floreat’s assistant coach, believes Dunn, who has represented the State at Schoolboys level, has a big future in the game. “WA has produced a number of quality goalkeepers in the past and Alex is no exception,” he said. “I have worked with him since he was sixteen and admire his willingness to listen, learn and continually work hard at improving him game. If he continues to improve it won’t be long before he becomes one of our States League’s best ‘keepers.”
It’s looks like being an interesting season in the goalkeeping department at Floreat where Dunn is coached by Vas Vujacic and has number two Simon Madashi breathing down his neck. “Vas has taken on a coaching role again. He was an awesome ‘keeper with great experience he can pass onto me. But he can be a bit more of a hard-arse and push me because he knows he doesn’t have to do it anymore.” Dunn joked. “Simon has come back to Floreat, he made the Amateur State squad last year and will keep me on my toes while also providing us with good back-up.”
NEWCASTLE TAKES ALL THE GLORY
Perth Glory’s miserable season has come to a close with this evening’s 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Newcastle Jets at EnergyAustralia Stadium. A solitary strike by Labinot Haliti was all that separated the sides after half-time, after which the home side put their foot down with Jeremy Brockie doubling the margin before veteran Sasho Petrovski came off the bench to score twice and keep alive Newcastle’s slim finals hopes.
After a lively opening Newcastle grabbed a 13th minute lead when Tarek Elrich floated a cross to the top of the 18-yard box where Haliti tamed the ball before unleashing a right-foot drive that cannoned into the net off the far post. The hosts attacked again moments later with Jeremy Brockie and Ali Abbas combining to make space for striker Marko Jesic whose shot was straight into the arms of Tando Velaphi.
Glory worked their way back into the game a blistering long-range effort by Howard Fondyke forced Ben Kennedy into a fine diving save. The visitors continued to press and went close to equalising through Adam Taggart, who worked his way inside the area only to shoot into the side netting from an acute angle. Newcastle had late chance when Abbas fired at the near post but Velaphi showed good positioning to capture up the shot.
There were openings at both ends of the park early in the second half. On 51 minutes Brockie sent clear Haliti but his shot from 9-metre was well saved by Velaphi, then Robbie Fowler placed his header straight at Kennedy from Scott Neville’s cross. Newcastle’s lead was doubled in the 55th minute when Jesic slid a lovely through ball for Brockie, who stepped around Neville before sending a low shot just inside the far post.
The introduction of Petrovski on the hour mark had devastating consequences for Glory. Petrovski, playing his last home game for Newcastle, calmly converted from the penalty spot in the 68th minute after handball by Brent Griffiths. The game had barely restarted when Petrovski pounced on an error by Griffiths and took the ball inside the area where he threaded a trademark low shot inside the far post to cap a remarkable couple of minutes.
Petrovski almost grabbed his hat-trick a few moments later when he was put through on goal by Abbas but Velaphi was able to block the shot and deny the veteran. Glory almost pulled one back when Fowler slide a lovely ball through for Tommy Amphlett whose low shot was pushed around the post by Kennedy. Glory’s season was pretty well summed up by the game final play with Fowler shooting wide.
YOUNG QUITS MANDURAH
The sudden resignation of coach Stuart Young has caught Mandurah City by surprise. Young cited 'personal reasons' in announcing his decision to split from the Dolphins following training on Tuesday. "The club was disappointed with the news, however, we fully understand the reasons why," said Mandurah secretary Jim Webb. "Stuart said it was for personal reasons and nothing to do with players, staff or any one else connected to Mandurah City." Young, who played professionally in England, Singapore and Australia, took over as Mandurah coach in August 2009. His assistant, Mike Brazil, will now be in charge of first team matters.
TAGGART'S EARLY START ON THE ROAD TO GLORY (courtesy the 'West Australian')
Adam Taggart can't remember the first time he watched Perth Glory play, but he is unlikely to forget their most recent game. The 17-year old, whose father Ron started taking him to Glory matches in the club's inaugural season in 1996, earned a place in the starting line-up for the first time last weekend and responded with a goal in a 2-1 loss to Gold Coast United. It has been a miserable season for the club, but Taggart's contribution offered a glimmer of hope.
Taggart, who played first team for ECU Joondalup at the age of 14 and joined Glory from the Australia Institute of Sport in December, made four brief appearances off the bench before getting his chance in the starting eleven. "I was a little bit nervous but I felt better starting than when I was coming off the bench," said Taggart, who latched onto Jamie Harnwell's knock-down to fire home Glory's consolation. "I felt better each week and getting a start was even more of a confidence boost."
Taggart had not expected to crack the starting line-up this season, but Glory's depressing form left coach Ian Ferguson with little choice but to look to the alternatives. "Coming from the AIS, I was just hoping to get a few games coming off the bench," Taggart said. "The next step is to get more starts and to keep trying to improve as a player." Taggart is one of four young West Australian players contracted for next season, along with Scott Neville (22), Tommy Amphlett (22) and Josh Risdon (18).
PETKOVIC TO GLORY?
Michael Petkovic may be tempted to join Perth Glory next season amid rumours he's set to split from Melbourne Victory. Out of contract in June, Petkovic has been in discussions with Victory over a new deal which would keep him at the club beyond the group phase of the Asian Champions League. However, it now appears that is unlikely with the veteran goalkeeper showing an interest in heading back home to Perth to be with his family. While there has been no formal approach from Glory, Petkovic would be seen as good cover for Danny Vukovic, who recently signed a two-year deal with the club.
MIRCO ALERT TO FLOREAT’S THREAT
Livewire attacker Johnny Mirco will come face to face with former team mates when Cockburn City takes on Floreat Athena in this weekend’s semi-final of the Night Series. Mirco has been nothing less than sensational on his return to Cockburn and is determined to continue in much the same fashion when he meets the club he played eighteen months with. “It’s going to be a tough game against Floreat, and it will also feel a bit strange playing against my old team mates,” said the 33-year old. “The game could go either way as both teams have the players that can turn games.”
Goals in each of the Cockerels Night Series outings have singled Mirco out as one of the players of the tournament. “I’ve popped up with a few goals which is always good, but the service has been unbelievable which has allowed me the opportunities to score the goals,” commented Mirco, who grabbed the sealing goal in the quarter final defeat of Stirling Lions. “It was a great win for us against Stirling - a great team effort. We defended very well and took our chances when they came, and we will have to do the same on Sunday (against Floreat).”
Mirco has played much of his career out of Dalmatinac Park and could not be happier about being back home. “It’s great to be back at Cockburn. I have really enjoyed the return and been welcomed back by everyone at the club,” said the striker who made his senior debut as a teenager in 1997. In addition to the eight seasons he’s won Cockburn colours, Mirco has enjoyed spells with Inglewood Falcons, Fremantle City, where he collected a Premier League winners medal, and most recently Floreat, who he represented at State level.
Assistant coach Richard Francisco, who has taken charge of the Cockerels in Tony Castiello’s absence, says Mirco’s contributions both on and off the field will be key to the clubs fortunes this year. “Johnny has been in very good goal scoring form and it’s great to have him back at the club. He’s very good at training and has the right attitude,” said Francisco. “Johnny and Rory Feely are forming a great partnership which as a club we will see the benefits of as the season goes on.”
Cockburn were rocked by recent news experienced defender Shane Nunes would miss the season with a knee injury. “Shane will be a huge loss for us and will be sorely missed. He is one of the best defenders in the state and we all wish him a speedy recovery (from knee surgery),” commented Mirco, who has every confidence Cockburn are on the right track to erase their disastrous 2010 campaign. “Tony (Castiello) and Richard (Francisco) are great to work with, and they have us working well together. We have a great team down at Cockburn.”
SHARLAND BACK IN THE SWING OF THINGS
With a solid pre-season under his belt Greg Sharland is looking forward to helping Perth SC add to their trophy cabinet. Sharland, 28, missed much of last season with a knee injury but showed last weekend that he has lost none of his sharpness by scoring a hat-trick in the Night Series semi-final defeat of Inglewood United. “It was a great win for the boys against my former club, that is now fourteen goals in two games,” Sharland said. “With a new formation we seem to be very tight at the back and free flowing in attack. My hat-trick was nothing compared to Simmo’s (Craig Simpson) strike though, or Trent Kay’s new hairdo (aka Kramer). But seriously, I was delighted to finally play 90 minutes after nine months on the sidelines.”
No one is more glad than Sharland that 2010 is over. “It was a very frustrating year for me. It took about three months to get a confirmed diagnosis, then once we realised what the problem was I needed another six months off,” Sharland explained. “I had severe tendonitis just above my right knee. I still feel it and will probably have to manage it from now on but my body is feeling great otherwise, it’s great to be able to kick a ball again. Two physio’s have helped me get back to playing and definitely deserve a mention - Trinc’s (Simon Trinca) and Paul Van Dongen, thanks guys.”
New Perth coach Ronnie Campbell is delighted Sharland is back to full fitness and firing on all cylinders. “He has really impressed me and he made a huge difference last week. You can see he’s played at high levels with Charlton Athletic and Wollongong Wolves, he has a lot of quality,” said Campbell, who has taken up the reins following Graham Normanton’s step into retirement. “I spoke to Greg when I arrived at the club and he’s been great for me. I played him up-front last week, which might have surprised a few people, but he ended up with a hat-trick and he was my man-of-the-match, which was great.”
Sharland is a big fan of his new coach and the brand of football Campbell wants Perth to play. “I have known Ronnie for a few years now through football circles and nearly went to the Knights when he was coach there,” Sharland said. “With the time the team has had with him this year, he is a very organised and tactical coach who is pushing us to play good football and be very tight at the back. As you can see with the results we have had, it has been quite a steady transition for him and the players. Hopefully we can continue this for the rest of the Night Series and set us up for another big year.”
There’s no doubting the quality of the Perth squad and for the new season it has been enhanced with the recruitment of Jason Dos Santos and Adam Bachiller, formerly of Cockburn City and Floreat Athena respectively. “Bach has slotted into the defence like he has played with the team for years. He has a great engine and football brain and I am looking forward to linking up with him on the best side of the pitch,” Sharland joked. “Jason has been on the sidelines after recovering from shoulder surgery but he had a hit out in training last week and doesn’t seem to have lost any of his magic. It’s great he’s another south of the river boy - car-pooling has worked out for me too!”
Perth are the undisputed kings of pre-season football with a record eighteen Night Series trophy wins since the tournament was introduced in 1961. In the past ten years alone they’ve lifted the trophy on eight occasions, and in 2011 will attempt to become the first team to win six Night Series’ in a row. But before getting that shot at history they must first see off ECU Joondalup in Sunday’s semi-finals. “ECU game will be very tough to beat,” said Sharland. “They looked very big and strong (against Western Knights) and Johnny (Thornley) up front seems to be travelling quite well. If we stick to our game plan and play the way we have been then I am sure it will be a great match for everyone involved.”
VELAPHI INKS TWO-YEAR DEAL WITH VICTORY
Tando Velaphi will stand between the posts for the last time as a Perth Glory player on Thursday after signing a two-year contract with A-League rival Melbourne Victory. Velaphi, 23, will join his new club at the end of the season and in time for their upcoming Asian Champions League campaign. "I've enjoyed my time at Perth Glory, but when the opportunity to move to Melbourne Victory came up, it was too good to refuse," Velaphi said. "They've got a really good mix of experience and youth, so I can't wait to get involved and stake my claim. Having been to AAMI Park a couple of times this season, the prospect of training and playing in a world class facility like that is very appealing."
Gary Cole, football operations manager at Victory, considers Velaphi a 'keeper of immense potential. "We're delighted to have signed a young keeper of Tando's quality and while he's been a regular for Perth over the past couple of seasons, we feel he still has plenty of upside about him," said Cole. "He's represented his country at both under-20 and under-23 level and has really come of age over the past twelve months with some outstanding performances." Velaphi, a former Perth SC junior, will make his 74th Glory appearance when they travel to Newcastle Jets on Thursday.
NEVILLE AND FOWLER SHORTLISTED FOR TEAM OF THE YEAR
Stand-in captain Scott Neville and star import Robbie Fowler were Perth Glory's best players this season, according to a players' union team of the year shortlist published yesterday. Neville, who wore the captain's armband in Jacob Burns absence, and Fowler, scorer of nine goals in 27 appearances, were the only Glory players in the 33-man selection. The Professional Footballers Australia asked members to vote for the eleven players - in a 4-3-3 formation - they felt had performed best this season, as well as nominating five substitutes. The final selection will be revealed at the PFA's Alex Tobin Medal dinner in Melbourne next Monday.
STATE TEAM TO MEET GLORY IN FUNDRAISER
The Western Australia State team and Perth Glory will go head-to-head later this month in a fundraiser for those affected by recent flooding in the Gascoyne region. The friendly, to be played at Carnarvon's Festival Grounds on Saturday 19 February, is part of a host of activities over three days in which State team and Glory players will be involved in school visits, club training sessions and other community promotions.
Bob Kucera, chairman of Football West, says a full weekend of football activities provides a perfect opportunity for Perth to show that the regions are not forgotten. "Over the last few months we have all witnessed the devastation and heartbreak that the elements can bring to communities," he said. "I am sure I speak on behalf of the complete WA football community when I say that we will not forget our players, spectators and supporters in the outlying towns and cities and we will do we can to bring some relief through the sport and all it has to offer."
Robbie Dunn has once again been given the reins of the State team, which will include guest spots for players from Carnarvon. The State team have beaten Glory once in six previous meetings, the last of which was in July 2010 when the A-League side score two late goals to earn a 3-1 victory at a packed Litis Stadium. The WA-Glory friendly at the Festival Grounds in Carnarvon on Saturday 19 February kicks off at 6.00 pm and is preceded by a curtain raiser featuring local teams.
GLORY FANS GIVEN GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE
Young guns Adam Taggart, Tommy Amphlett and Josh Risdon have given Perth Glory loyal supporters hope of a brighter future. The locally produced trio showed they have what it takes to play A-League football with strong performances in yesterday's loss to Gold Coast United, Glory's sixteenth of the summer. "I think Fergie (coach Ian Ferguson) made it very clear a few weeks ago that, that was going to be the future of the club and just really give these guys, Adam Taggart, Tommy Amphlett, Josh Risdon, [a chance] to see what they can do," assistant coach Stuart Munro said. "And they've all shown very, very well that they could be the future of Perth Glory."
Taggart was promoted to the starting line-up for the first time against Gold Coast following a handful of appearances off the bench. The 17-year old striker, who started out in the State League with ECU Joondalup, acquitted himself well by scoring Glory's late consolation in the 2-1 loss. "I thought Adam was terrific. His movement up forward was very good and he'll get better; he's obviously just a young lad," said Munro.
Amphlett, 22, came off the bench on the hour and almost immediately unleashed a powerful strike that forced a save from goalkeeper Glen Moss. "Tommy Amphlett came on and sparked things as well, we know he can do that so we now need to try and bring these guys into a better environment because to try and bring three young players when the team's not doing well is not ideal," the assistant coach added.
Munro hopes next season will bring more success for Glory and that a strong pre-season program is going to be crucial to get the best out of the inexperienced players. "So obviously pre-season and next season going forward, (the goal is) to get the young players into a team that's doing better, hopefully and winning games," Munro said. "Being positive will help them with their development and they'll be good players for the future of the squad."
THORNLEY THE HERO AS JOONDALUP PROGRESS (with David Cameron, Football West)
John Thornley single-handedly sent ECU Joondalup into the last four of the Night Series by scoring all three goals in his teams pulsating 3-2 defeat of Western Knights at 6PR Stadium this evening. The game looked destined for penalties when Thornley put away the deciding goal, having twice earlier helped Joondalup recover from finishes by Simon Versaico and Branimir Mikulic.
The first half was a very cagey affair, both teams lacking any real coherence and quality in the final third. Joondalup entered the break courtesy of a 45th minute penalty converted by Thornley after referee Hugh Best picked out a handball against a Knights defender as he attempted to block Jonathon Stynes cross directed towards the back post.
The game only sparked to life late in the second half when both teams scored twice, all four goals arriving in quick succession. In the 74th minute Callum Roberts tamed a long ball on the edge of the 18-yard box which he then laid off for an unmarked Mikulic to send into the bottom corner and beyond the reach of goalkeeper Andy Banks.
Joondalup were back in front just three minutes later with Thornley sending Fraser Siddall the wrong way from the spot after being brought down by the trailing leg of a defender. The Knights hot back immediately, Versaico drifting away from his marker to receive the ball just outside the area, and with a combination of fine close control and quick feet the attacker beat three opponents before drilling past Banks.
Both teams were seemingly resigned to a penalty shoot-out with neither willing to commit too many players forward over the closing stages. However, in the third minute of stoppage time a sloppy pass out of defence was seized on by Thornley who showed great composure in coolly slotting into the net in a one-on-one with Siddall.
SHARLAND HAT-TRICK SINKS INGLEWOOD (with Michael Barr, Football West)
Three goals by returning striker Greg Sharland helped Perth SC thrash Inglewood United 7-1 this evening at 6PR Stadium. Sharland, who missed much of last season through injury, lead Perth's charge towards a sixth successive Night Series crown with strike partner David Onoforo, defenders Craig Simpson and Adam Bachiller along with substitute Ian McMurray also on the scoresheet. The Blues will face ECU Joondalup in next weekends four of four, whereas Inglewood will be left to lick their wounds and prepare for the regular season.
The writing was on the wall for Inglewood as early as the 5th minute when Onoforo blasted in from the penalty spot after being brought down while attempting to tame a bouncing ball inside the 18-yard box. Inglewood almost had an immediate reply through Darko Ilomanoski, who found a way around the defence before playing to the feet of Ndumba Makeche whose powerful strike was blocked on the line by a defender. Perth capitalised on their dominance with a second goal in the 12th minute when Sharland chased down a long ball to go one-on-one with goalkeeper Oliver Taseki, who the striker side-stepped before lashing into an empty net.
Although two goals down, Inglewood continued the good fight and three minutes later a Brendan Craig corner was captured by the wind and floated over 'keeper Devon Spence, who was unable to prevent the ball from sneaking inside the far post. Sharland restored his teams buffer in the 20th minute by pouncing on a loose ball inside the area which he guided under Taseski. The two sides traded attacks for the remainder of the half with neither able to break down their opponents defence. A moment of magic by Ryan Clarke saw go past three players only for his cross from the right to be intercepted by Shaun Kilkelly.
Simpson sealed a Perth win in the 54th minute when his spectacular volley from 22-metres curled into the back of the net, crushing any hopes of an Inglewood comeback. The floodgates were now open and nine minutes later Sharland completed his hat-trick from a free kick, and two minutes later a scrambled Adam Bachiller strike blew the gap out to four goals. Not even the dismissal of captain Robbie Puca moments later could stop the Perth juggernaut. The rout was made complete seven minutes from full time when McMurray sent his teams' sixth goal into Taseski's net.
GOLD COAST SPOIL HARNWELL’S PARTY
New Zealand striker Shane Smeltz scored a penalty in each half to guide Gold Coast United to a 2-1 win over Perth Glory tonight at Perth Oval. Young gun Adam Taggart pulled a goal back for the hosts with fifteen minutes left but it wasn’t enough in Glory veteran Jamie Harnwell’s farewell match. “We weren’t good enough. We weren’t keeping the ball or doing anything and that has summed up our season,” Harnwell said following his 256th and final game for the club. “I’ve had plenty of good luck and unfortunately today wasn’t a good luck day.”
A drab opening spells was notable only for the lack of genuine chances on goal. The game finally burst into life with 33 minutes gone when Smeltz converted from the spot after Golgol Mebrahtu went down under the challenge of Harnwell, leaving referee Jared Gillet little choice but to point to the spot. Appeals for a second Gold Coast penalty were dismissed minutes later when Harnwell brought down Michael Thwaite. Adriano Pellegrino went within inches of levelling before the break with a swerving shot that flashed past Glen Moss was fizzed just wide.
The second half opened with Glory on the attack and half chance for Taggart and Scott Neville. Just as it looked like the home team would draw level Josh Mitchell up-ended substitute Adama Traore inside the 18-yard box and Smeltz again scored from the spot. Glory’s focused remained unchanged and although Taggart escaped the attentions of Dino Djulbic and rounded Moss but his shot lacked direction. Kristian Rees last-gasp intervention prevented Tommy Amphlett’s low cross from reaching an unmarked Fowler on 68 minutes, and from the resulting corner Todd Howarth shot high after latching onto a mis-hit clearance.
The introduction of Brent Griffiths soon after allowed Harnwell to spend the final twenty minutes in attack. The move paid off in the 75th minute when Harnwell headed on a Mitchell through ball that allowed Taggart to nip in and bring the gap back to a single strike. Glory continued to press and two penalty appeals in quick succession against Djulbic were dismissed by the referee, Taggart half-volleyed just high from distance before Harnwell’s header drifted wide from a Neville cross. But there’d be no fairytale finish with Gold Coast holding on for three deserved points.
COCKBURN TAME THE LIONS
Cockburn City out last seasons ails well and truly behind them with this evenings 2-0 Night Series quarter final victory over Stirling Lions. Rory Feely put the Cockerels one-up shortly after kick off with Johnny Mirco scoring a controversial second goal in the 76th minute to secure the win. Post-game Cockburn assistant coach Richard Francisco was delighted with side’s performance. “We battled really hard tonight and we had to. We created a number of chances and we should have really put it away in the first half,” said Francisco, before praising young goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic. “Dejan made some crucial saves in the first half to keep us in the game and was in the right place in the second half too.”
Swirling winds at Litis Stadium presented problems for both teams throughout the game. Cockburn needed just 8 minutes to go in front, Jonathan Davite’s ball into the 18-yard box finding Feely who headed up and over stranded goalkeeper Cory Hugo. Stirling worked hard to get back on level terms but Jamie Watt flashed a header wide and, just before the half hour, Roberto Lujan’s shot was blocked by Aleksic who then brilliantly denied Corey Cullen’s powerful follow-up from 7-metres. Feely should have doubled his teams lead soon after but fired wide in a one-on-one with Corey Hugo as the Stirling defence stood appealing for offside.
Cockburn emerged for the second half determined to finish the job they had stated. Feely’s snap shot from 6-metres flashed narrowly over the bar and moments later Adrian Webster’s long-range attempt was deflected wide. Stirling returned fire with a Phil O’Callaghan shot blocked by Jason Godfrey with Watt putting the follow-up past the post. The game was now opening up and on the hour Watt headed straight at Aleksic from Jamie De Abreu’s delivery, while Feely sent clear Mirco but his low shot was saved by Hugo. Webster, who was dominating midfield, put the ball with Marc Anthony whose volley was also kept out by Hugo.
Cullen and De Abreu fashioned an opening for Stirling with the latter’s cross to the far post was met by Lujan whose header stretched Aleksic with Paul Natale clearing the loose ball. Cockburn’s second goal arrived in bizarre circumstances after referee Paul Anderson awarded Stirling a free kick. James Davis rolled the ball back to Jason Gavin, who was to take the free kick, but before the big defender could react Mirco had stolen possession and was racing towards goal. Mirco’s low shot was blocked by Hugo with the rebound falling to Feely, who unselfishly pulled it back for Mirco to blast in at the second opportunity from 6-metres. Cockburn almost added a few more late on but Anthony fired wide and Webster’s long-range effort was held by Hugo.
HOUSTON, WE HAVE LIFT-OFF (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
David Houston came off the bench to blast Floreat Athena into the last four of the Night Series with a stoppage time strike to see off Sorrento 1-0 this evening at Litis Stadium. With extra-time seemingly only moments away, Houston fired in from close-range to settle what in truth was a largely disappointing game. “The conditions didn’t suit for both teams, the pitch is still a few weeks away from being perfect,” conceded Floreat assistant coach Taki Nicolaidis. “But for us it’s a win and a semi-final next week and that’s what it’s all about.”
It took a long time for either team to come to terms with the windy conditions and a bumpy surface. In fact it took until the 20th minute for either goalkeeper to be called into action with Curtis Aspden comfortably holding onto Callum Fransz’s chip from the edge of the 18-yard box. Miki Vujacic, who’d by this stage come off the bench to replace an injured James Isaia, fired in a low volley from distance that fell to the feet of Liam Boland who sliced his shot horribly high of the crossbar.
Team-mate Jarrad Smith went closer after 32 minutes, pouncing on a flick down the left and hitting a low angled drive that flashed across the face of goal and just past the far post. Sorrento’s first chance had Kyle Moran header over the bar, but play soon return to the other end where Garin Collins twice in minutes failed to get the ball past Aspden. Todd Harnwell could have put Sorrento ahead in stoppage time but after being picked out by Stuart Banks’ superb cross field ball but the striker’s first touch let him down.
Opportunities were scarce after the break, the first arriving just before the hour when Brodie Martin’s spectacular volley was over the bar after meeting a Banks cross. Cameron Yorke headed an Adam Luca free-kick high, then on 70 minutes Jack Doyle’s ball in from the left was just out of Harnwell’s reach as Sorrento’s search for the opener continued. With four minutes left Paul Van Dongen latched onto a pass from Michael Van Dongen but angled his shot past the far post. The game had just entered stoppage time when Houston pounced by hammering a loose ball into the roof of the net from 6-metres.
GOLD COAST DOWN GLORY YOUTH
Gold Coast United Youth put one hand on the National Youth League premiership trophy following a convincing 3-1 win over Perth Glory Youth this afternoon at 6PR Stadium in Inglewood. Elliot Ronto scored twice to send Gold Coast into the break with a deserved lead, which was halved early in the second half by Al Jovic. Bobby Russell had the win safe thirteen minutes from time, sending Gold Coast six-points clear of Central Coast Mariners at the opt of the table with just three games to play.
Gold Coast started promisingly and almost hit the front on the quarter-hour but Ben Halloran’s effort was turned around the post by goalkeeper Tim Doyle. Halloran created the opening goal after 23 minutes, teasing the home defence before prodding the ball into the path of Ronto who expertly lifted the ball over Doyle from the tightest of angles. Gold Coast doubled their advantage ten minutes from half time when Halloran won possession before slipping a pass through for Koh Satake whose low cross into the 18-yard box was converted by Ronto at the near post.
The second period was only minutes old when visiting ‘keeper Jerrad Tyson saved a Sebit Oyet penalty kick awarded for Ben Wearing’s foul on substitute Stephen Walmsley. Glory Youth needed wait only a few more minutes before getting on the scoreboard with Jovic ghosting in through the defence to head in a ball from Walmsley. The home side looked to have equalised just before the hour when captain Sam Mitchinson nodded in from a Cameron Edwards corner, however, the flag was already up for offside.
Glory Youth custodian Doyle did well to keep out a close-range effort by Mitch Cooper in the 66th minute, and soon after Russell hit the upright after a driving run that took him the length of the field. Down the other end, a brave Tyson bravely denied substitute Sahr Musa by diving on top of the ball just as the home forward shaped to pull the trigger. Russell delivered the sealing goal in the 77th minute by bursting of midfield and evading two tackles before firing in.
SMELTZ GIVES GLORY CONSIDERATION
New Zealand international Shane Smeltz is giving some thought to joining Perth Glory next season. Smeltz, who’ll turn put for Gold Coast United tomorrow in Glory’s final home game of the 2010/11 campaign, is coming out of contract and has already had several A-League clubs table offers. "I've spoken to other clubs as well (as Glory) including Gold Coast," Smeltz, 29, told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "In terms of my future, it's undecided. I'll do the right thing by Gold Coast and perform as well as I can towards the end of the season and then make a decision."
Smeltz is contracted with Gold Coast until the end of the season after re-joining the club in January from an unsuccessful spell at Turkish club Genclerbirligi. "More than likely, I'll stay in the A-League now," said the two time A-League Golden Boot winner. "I enjoy myself here and I've got family to think about as well. I wouldn't discourage anyone else from going overseas but I see myself in the A-League. That's the plan at this stage." Smeltz, who also won the 2008/2009 Johnny Warren medal, boasts an incredible A-League record having scored 43 goals in 67 matches.
IT’S QUARTERS TIME!
The business end of the 2011 Night Series commences with Saturday quarter final showdown between Stirling Lions and Cockburn City at Litis Stadium (5.30pm). Stirling, fresh from a five-goal mauling of Bayswater City, have been well served by Roberto Lujan, American import Corey Cullen and Jamie Watt with each capable of turning a game in the blink of an eye. Johnny Mirco has been in outstanding touch in front of goals for the Cockerels, and with Paul Natale and Jonathon Davite operating down the flanks they have good reason to go into the game confident of making the last four.
Saturday’s late game has a new-look Floreat Athena on home turf to Sorrento (7.45pm). Paul Van Dongen, James Isaia and Liam Boland are shaping up to be key figures this year where Floreat as player/coach Ante Kovacevic has the task of remodelling the line-up. English import Curtis Aspden showed good form between the posts last week for Sorrento, who will rely on the midfield partnership of David Price and Brodie Martin to provide the forward momentum.
Poor scheduling means Sunday’s round of eight fixtures clash at 6 PR Stadium clash with Jamie Harnwell’s final farewell outing for Perth Glory. The opening Night Series game has Western Knights up against ECU Joondalup (5.00pm). Goals flowed freely for Callum Roberts and John Thornley last week and another haul from either will go a long way towards deciding the tie. That means the like of David Annall, Duncan Hind, Oliver McGee and Ross Edwards will need to be on top of their game for their team to succeed.
The last of the semi finalists will be decided when Inglewood United hosts neighbouring Perth SC (7.15pm). Inglewood will look to midfield pair Sandi Loncar and James Sammut for drive with Dannie Richman and Ryan Clarke providing both pace and width for the team. Andreas Oliviera scored a brace in Perth’s big win over Wanneroo City last time out and how much influence he and Greg Sharland can assert in the final third will be crucial, likewise the defensive efforts of Trent Kay and Shaun Kilkelly.
DESPOTOVSKI PAYS TRIBUTE TO HARNWELL
Former Perth Glory striker Bobby Despotovski has praised Jamie Harnwell for his contribution to the club ahead of the veteran's final national league outing. Harnwell will make his 256th appearance for Glory on Sunday afternoon, farewelling fans after more than twelve years in the purple jersey. "Jamie has been great for the club since he joined," said Despotovski, looking back on Harnwell's Glory career. "Being sort of a quiet boy, with a lot of players that have already played two or more years in the national league, he was very quiet, but sometimes the quiet achievers (are the most effective). I'm glad he stuck with the club through thick and thin. He got records at the club, he played for the club he loved, supporters love him, so he deserved everything that he got."
Despotovski, whose own club record of 240 matches was overtaken by Harnwell earlier this season, urged Glory's players to draw inspiration from the 33-year old defender's example this weekend. "He worked hard and he gave, all the time, 150%, it's never less than that," Despotovski said. "He captained the club that he loved and played so many games for that club. So I think Glory players at this current Glory squad should actually look to Jamie Harnwell, not for inspiration, but to sort of learn how to conduct themselves and how to actually give 150% every game." Farewell Harnwell on Sunday afternoon when Glory host Gold Coast United at Perth Oval, kick off 5.00pm.
HASSELL GETS FFA SKILLS GIG
Brad Hassell has vacated the coaching seat at Armadale to take up a youth development role with Football Federation Australia. Hassell, a former Perth Glory and Adelaide City player, has been appointed FFA’s Skills Acquisition Coach in Western Australia as part of the continued progress towards implementing the National Curriculum.
The Skill Acquisition Program is a nationwide joint initiative of the FFA and member federations, including Football West. It aims to identify and assemble the most talented 9-13 year old boys and girls in order to teach them perfect functional game skills, and to provide the necessary technical tools to be able to play at the high possible level in years to come.
Hassell played almost 300 national league games with Adelaide and Glory, winning three National Soccer League championships and an Australian under-23 international. Amongst his first tasks in the FFA role will be to join the Skills Acquisition Coaches from other states and territories in Sydney for a briefing on the roll out of the program nationwide.
DE ABREU LOOKS TO RE-ESTABLISH
Stirling Lions midfielder Jamie De Abreu can’t wait for the season proper to commence after putting a horror year behind him. The livewire 20-year old has been one of his clubs top performers in pre-season and is looking forward to staying free of injury and playing his part in Stirling’s push for top honours. “After an injury hampered 2010, I want to get as many games under my belt as I can. I want to cement my spot in the starting eleven and contribute to the team as best I can, either by scoring or setting up goals.” De Abreu said.
It was around this time last year that De Abreu was struck down by osteitis pubis, an inflammation of the pelvis. “I missed most of 2010. It was disappointing because I thought I had a pretty good pre-season and Night Series but after the first four or five games something wasn’t right and I was advised to have some time off to let it rest,” De Abreu explained. “I ended up having five and half months off my feet which was really difficult … Thankfully I’m fully over my injury and got my fitness level back up to a good standard. My touch still isn’t where it should be but with more games I think it will come.”
De Abreu has started all three of Stirling’s Night Series games, scoring in last weekend’s big win over Bayswater City, but knows his early season contributions are no guarantee of ongoing game time. “We have a squad with a lot of depth and most players can play more than one position so it’s not going to be an easy task,” he said. “Personally it’s just great to be back playing after a long time on the sidelines. I’ve been happy with my performances but still have a lot of work to do. I’m getting a lot of help from the coaching staff so, hopefully, everything comes together sooner rather than later.”
There was a fair degree of change in the Stirling camp over the summer, changes De Abreu says have made the team stronger. “The squad is looking really good at the moment. I believe we have one or two more to come in which will complement what we already have,” commented the midfielder. “Jamie Watt and Phil O’Callaghan are going to be really important, they seem to know each really well and their movement is going to give any defence trouble … I think we have a really balanced squad which should be in contention for some silverware come the end of the season.”
De Abreu moved to Stirling in mid-2009 from Cockburn City, and it’s that club he faces this weekend in the Night Series quarter finals. “The two times I’ve played them since joining the Lions we have won I’ve scored a couple - hopefully the trend continues,” De Abreu said. “I know most of the Cockburn boys and they got some really good players, like Adrian Webster, Marc Anthony and Paul Natale just to name a few. So it’s not going to be an easy game. As a team we know that and as always we will prepare well and focus on doing the things that have been working for us and we should get the right result.”
GLORY CONSIDER OVERSEAS IN ATTEMPT TO CUT COSTS
Struggling Perth Glory could slash their wages bill by encouraging players to bridge the long gap between A-League seasons with overseas loan opportunities. Although coach Ian Ferguson will make sweeping changes to his squad, a number of players, including captain Jacob Burns, Mile Sterjovski, Chris Coyne, Scott Neville, Victor Sikora and Branko Jelic, are contracted for the next campaign. And with an expected eight-month break before the start of the 2011/12 season, some players are likely to look to Asia and possibly the United States' Major League Soccer to fill the long gap. Any moves would also save Glory money as loan clubs would be required to pay player wages.
VRTESKI ENJOYING LIFE AFTER GLORY
One-time Australian youth international Aleks Vrteski has been given a new lease of life by linking up with Solo FC for the inaugural Indonesian Premier League season. Vrteski, 22, has played all three opening round games for the club and last weekend made his home debut in front of 35,000 people. “We beat Bandung 3-1, the atmosphere was indescribable,” he explained. “We were down 1-0 at half time and when Dave Micevski scored a penalty to level the game, I’ve never heard a ground erupt like that in my life. It was a real buzz which spurred us on to get the win.”
Playing in Indonesia signals the end of a couple of frustrating years for Vrteski with Perth Glory, who he split from in December. “My decision to leave was solely due to lack of opportunity,” commented Vrteski, who made just five appearances in close to two seasons with the club. “I really enjoyed my time at the club and I’ve left a number of good friends there. But it was obvious Fergie (coach Ian Ferguson) didn’t see me in his plans and I didn’t see myself playing under him and therefore it made my decision to leave black and white.”
Vrteski isn’t alone in Indonesia with his former Glory team mate, David Micevski, also on the books of Solo this season. The goalkeeper is delighted to be playing alongside Micevski, who has made a positive start to his time in Indonesia. “It’s great to have Dave here, the moment he arrived he stepped up with his best foot forward and hasn’t looked back since,” said Vrteski of a player he rates very highly. “I’m glad he has had an opportunity to play at a professional level again because that’s where he deserves to be.”
Solo have made a strong start to the season, picking up maximum points from two of their first three games in what coach Branko Babic has made clear is an establishment season for the club. “Branko advised everyone that this season will be used as a preparation to have a strong tilt at the title next season,” said Vrteski, who is impressed with how far the team has come since he joined in late December. “When I first arrived the team was a bit out of shape and our coach had a lot of work on his hands with only about four weeks to go to the start of the season.”
Vrteski, whose State League career includes stints with Sorrento, Stirling Lions and Wanneroo City, is planning to remain in Asia’s newest league for some time. “I see the Indonesian Premier League as a massive revolution in Asian football and I hope I can be a part of it for the next few years,” he said. “I’m contracted at Solo FC in 2012 so I’m looking to establish myself with a solid season and build on from there … but who knows what the future holds, unless Manchester United come in for me to replace Van Der Sar I think I’ll be here.”
GIRLS' NTC LAUNCHED
West Australia’s best young female footballers will be given the best possible opportunity to reach their potential following the launch of the Girls’ National Training Centre. The program, run by Football West, aims to provide local talented and elite players with the chance to develop their skills and ability through structured technical and tactical development programs. It aims to provide a pathway to potential State and national team representation, and be part of pathway towards a professional football career.
Following in the footsteps of Lisa De Vanna, Collette McCallum and most recently Sam Kerr, the program will help ensure the future success of women’s football. “WA has shown it can produce international stars like Sam and Lisa, and for Australia to be able to compete with the best, it’s all about providing the opportunities to identify and cultivate more like them at the grass roots level,” said Penny Tanner-Hoath, chair of the Women’s Standing Committee. “Football West have shown the willingness to tackle the female side of the sport like never before and the introduction of the new NTC program is a critical part of this development pathway.”
The Girl’s NTC program will consist of two squads - Under-15’s and Under-17’s - which will play in the Women’s Reserve League and Women’s Premier League competitions respectively. Each squad will offer up to 18 full time positions and trials will begin on Monday, 7th February, with registration forms provided at the sessions. Female players aged between 12 and 17 are encouraged to attend the selection trials being held at Celebration Park in Balga. For more information, please contact Jessine Bonzas (Under-15’s) on 0400 228 121 or Nicola Williams (Under-17’s) on 0403 127 722.
GLORY LEGEND HARNWELL ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
Jamie Harnwell will play his 256th and final game for Perth Glory against Gold Coast United at Perth Oval on Sunday, more than twelve years after making his debut for the club. Harnwell, 33, confirmed yesterday he would not carry on next season and will bow out following the club’s final home game of the season. “I can’t describe the honour and pride I’ve felt while representing this club over the past thirteen years,” said the big defender. “Playing football for a living is the best job in the world.”
Harnwell, who has overcome knee, hamstring and calf problems in recent times, said he was no longer enjoying the daily grind of training. “I’ve not been enjoying myself. You should go to training with a smile on your face and I’ve done that in the past even when this club has been struggling,” commented the big defender, whose career began in the State League with Sorrento. “But this season it’s all become a little bit too much and it’s time to move on.”
An emotional Harnwell said the red card he received against Central Coast Mariners twelve days ago had been the catalyst for his decision. “After I’d been sent off I was frustrated with myself. I was frustrated with the team, the way we’d been playing,” he said. “I was sitting at home and I just turned to my wife and said ‘that’s it, I think I’m done.’ But obviously you don’t make those decisions on the spot like that and I had a lot to think about and a lot to talk to the club about.”
Glory’s director of football Dave Mitchell has long admired Harnwell’s battling qualities. “He’s a winner and he will put his head where it hurts,” Mitchell said. “He’s been a soldier for the club. He would be the first to admit he’s not the most gifted player but his determination is a real driving force. Everyone who plays alongside him plays well. He has a lot of knowledge and he is a bit of a dying breed because he’s a player who talks and communicates. He’s a great organiser.”
Harnwell made his Glory debut in November 1998 and was an established part of the first eleven under coach Bernd Stange and Mich D’Avray. He played his part in the club finishing top of the National Soccer League table three times between 2000 and 2004, and featured in the Grand Final wins of 2002/03 and 2003/04. “I’ve been lucky enough to have been part of this club at its peak, playing in four grand finals in five years and will always treasure its history and the players that made Perth Glory great,” said Harnwell.
While Glory are yet to scale those same heights in the A-League, Harnwell has nonetheless remainder prominent. He captained the club into the first two seasons of the new national competition and, following a move to the forward line, scored the league’s first hat-trick, was twice Glory’s top goal scorer and last October eclipsed Bobby Despotovski’s club record of 241 games. Harnwell also played on loan with English club Leyton Orient (2003) and Liechtenstein-based FC Vaduz (2008), who play in Switzerland.
VELAPHI TO JOIN MELBOURNE
Melbourne Victory are on the verge of confirming the recruitment of goalkeeper Tando Velaphi from Perth Glory. Velaphi, 23, will leave Glory at the completion of the season to link up with Melbourne where he’ll provide competition for current number one Michael Petkovic. With Danny Vukovic heading to Perth next season, Velaphi sees it as a good chance to make a fresh start after five seasons with Glory. Velaphi has emerged as one of the most talented young ‘keepers in the A-League, notching up a dozen appearances for Australia at youth level on his way to playing in excess of 70 games at club level.
HAWKES RELISHES NEW BALL GAME
Three-times Olympic hockey gold medallist Rechelle Hawkes will join Football West next month as part of a restructure of the organisation. Hawkes steps into the new position of general manager of football having previously worked in a sponsorship role for the Fremantle Dockers and as a special projects consultant with Perth Glory. "There are a lot of similarities between soccer and hockey, from grassroots to State representation, so it's a very good fit for me," Hawkes said.
Chief executive Peter Hugg, who is seven months into his stint at the helm, said Hawkes was the ideal person for the general manager role. "Some people might say she's not a football person, but she doesn't need to be," he said. "Her job is not to teach people how to kick a ball. It's to ensure that there's an environment to allow others to be able to do their job to the ultimate level."
Hugg said his own honeymoon period was over and he now wanted to make changes that would significantly benefit Football West. "I think this appointment shows a desire to think outside the square and look to other sports," he said. "We shouldn't be too proud to look to other sports for possible solutions. Women's hockey has had a huge amount of success in WA and Rechelle has played an important role."
FERGUSON IN FOR THE LONG HAUL
Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson has vowed to fight on despite admitting he can't wait for the season of hell to finish. Ferguson conceded there was little left to play for in the remaining two games after watching his team slump to a 2-0 loss to Sydney FC on Saturday night. Glory have posted just two wins and six draws in 19 games under Ferguson's watch but the 43-year old has no intention of walking away from his post. "I'm determined and I'm looking forward to the challenge next year," Ferguson said. "I never shirk away from any challenges, I always go in head first. "I'll never quit, I'll always keep going (and) hopefully do the right thing and get this club up and running."
Sydney pair Nick Carle and Bruno Cazarine found the net on the weekend to condemn Glory to their 15th loss of the season, with Ferguson rating the defeat as one of the club's worst performances of 2010/11. "We have probably dismantled again what we built up twelve weeks ago. We are back to where we were basically," Ferguson said. "So we've got two games to go and the sooner the season goes, the better for everyone. We are not going to achieve anything now. We are going to sit second bottom now ... because we can't even catch Sydney I don't think. So we've got a bit of pride for this club and a bit of pride for ourselves (to play for) and hopefully try to get the last couple of victories."
DRAW ENOUGH FOR SORRENTO
Sorrento progressed to the knock out phase of the Night Series after fending off a dominant Balcatta to record a 0-0 draw from tonight's encounter under light at Percy Doyle Reserve. The point gained was enough to keep Sorrento second in Group C, one point ahead of Balcatta who entered the game knowing anything short of victory would bring their pre-season campaign to a halt.
An opening minutes Ashley Rosindale free kick was the first of many shots on goal for a Balcatta side that seemed destined to find the back of the net. Sorrento's first chance came in the 16th minute when a corner went to feet and in the goalmouth scramble that ensued Balcatta managed to get the ball away to safety. Eleven minutes later the hosts should have had the lead but Lewis Italiano saved Brodie Martin's spot kick after the goalkeeper's foul on Todd Harnwell.
Balcatta upped the tempo for the second half but still could not beat Curtis Aspden between the posts for Sorrento. Adam Tong pushed into attack and from a free kick he unleashed a cracking shot that rose just high of the crossbar. Daniel Micevski and Matt Italiano brilliantly weaved around the opposition defence but both were prevented sticking the ball in the net before referee Paul Anderson brought proceedings to a close.
Peter Vatistas, Balcatta's manager, lamented his team's ability to make more of their chances while tipping his hat to Sorrento's defensive resilience. "We dominated most of it in patches and came out hard at them but to their credit, they defended very well," he said. "They had a couple of good opportunities and we had a couple of good opportunities, then we changed the set up in the second half but they really defended well."
COCKBURN PROGRESS DESPITE MOUNTING INJURY TOLL
An injured-riddled Cockburn City cruised into the last eight of the Night Series with a 3-1 victory over Bunbury Forum Force this evening at Hyundai Stadium. David Araya and Paul Natale had Cockburn in the box seat a the break, and although Gino Comito reduced the deficit Johnny Mirco's fourth goal in three game secured the win. "Johnny is a quality player and he is scoring goals so I couldn't be happier with the way he is going," Cockburn coach John Castiello commented post-game.
The Cockerels, missing six first team regulars due to injury, produced some impressive football to continue their unbeaten Night Series run. Mirco was brought down inside the 18-yard box during the opening minute of play with referee Joe Fusari having no hesitation in awarding a penalty. Paul Natale stepped up to the spot only to for goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery to pull off a sensational diving save to keep the teams on level pegging.
However, it wasn't long before Cockburn opened their account courtesy of Adrian Webster's incisive pass to David Araya who, from just outside the 6-yard box, coolly slotted past Montgomery in the 12th minute. Bunbury were within inches of an instant reply with Rory Binnie's cracking strike from 8-metres flashing just wide. In the 35th minute Natale made amends for his earlier miss with a sensational left foot strike to give the Cockerels a two-goal buffer at the break.
Joe Page, who replaced regular 'keeper Dejan Aleskic for the second half, was tested early by an energetic Bunbury outfit focused on pulling a goal back. Their reward came when Comito netted a neat Josh Harvey cross in the 55th minute to bring the difference back to a single goal. A stunning double save on the hour by Montgomery kept the team from the south west in the game. Mirco delivered the knock out blow with his 73rd minute strike to seal a deserved victory.
Castiello is confident of getting a number of key players back in time for next weekend's blockbuster quarter final showdown with Stirling Lions. "We should have at least three of four players back for the quarters so the squad should strengthen greatly," said Castiello, whose team finished second to Western Knights in Group A. "I still believe Cockburn can win this competition. On our day we are certainly one of the best (in the Premier League)."
ROBERTS DAZZLES AS KNIGHTS MARCH ON (with Michael Barr, Football West)
Summer signing Callum Roberts scored five times to lead Western Knights to a 6-0 thrashing of Mandurah City in the late game at Hyundai Stadium. Roberts had his hat-trick by the 16th minute then added a fourth before Simon Versaico found the target, taking the margin to five goals by the break. With the job done, the Knights eased off in the second period but Roberts was not yet finished and just prior to the final whistle put away his fifth goal.
The onslaught began in the 10th minute when Stuart Montgomery's cross found the head of Roberts, who nodded in his first of the night. Roberts doubled the lead three minutes later with a sensational strike from 12-metres. Mandurah didn't even have time to catch their breath when Roberts struck again and put the game out of the hosts reach with little over quarter of an hour played.
A gaping hole in Mandurah's defence was exploited by Roberts in the 27th minute, the livewire striker skipping into space and coolly slotted his fourth past goalkeeper Tim Smith. To the despair of the home crowd, the net bulged again seven minutes later when Montgomery slid another excellent ball to the feet of Versaico, who complimented with a classy finish.
Mandurah were a much different proposition early in the second half courtesy of a more resilient back four and some exciting runs out wide that led to opportunities on goal. Their new attitude almost paid off in the 50th minute when Jake Loreto chased a long ball into the 18-yard box where Knights custodian Frazer Siddall came quickly off his line to snuff out the chance.
The momentum soon enough shifted back in favour of the Knights with Callum Roberts setting up substitute Branimir Mikulic whose volley was across the face of goal. Ryan Shackleton embarked on a run down the left before centring to an unmarked Luka Jukic but his shot from the edge of the box was just high. The Knights ended their second half drought four minutes from the end of regulation time when an unmarked Roberts guided his header into the bottom corner of the net.
SOCCEROOS EXTRA-TIME HEARTBREAK
Australia’s dream of winning the Asian Cup came to a cruel end when substitute Tadanari Lee scored deep in extra-time to hand Japan a 1-0 win from an epic final in Doha last night. The triumph secured a record fourth Asian Cup for Japan who have now won four of the past six editions of the tournament. “We have seen a very exciting game between two very good teams,” Socceroos coach Holger Osieck said. “I’m very proud of my players, their performance and their attitude. I give them credit and really feel sorry for the boys that they didn’t get the reward for their efforts.”
The Socceroos settled first at the Khalifa Stadium with Harry Kewell forcing a save from Eiji Kawashima and Matt McKay blazing high inside the opening couple of minutes. Japan almost took the lead after 8 minutes in bizarre circumstances, Keisuke Honda’s chip sailing over an unguarded net after Mark Schwarzer appeared to injure a knee trying to prevent a corner. Kawashima produced a crucial save ten minutes later when David Carney’s out-swinging corner found the head of Tim Cahill and took a slight deflection off Kewell.
On 27 minutes, Luke Wilkshire picked out Kewell with a fine cross but the striker’s header was just over the bar. The Socceroos went close again on the half-hour when a Lucas Neill cross was nodded into the path of Kewell who could only volley into the side netting. Japan constructed the best attack of the game nine minutes before the break when Honda played a great ball inside the 18-yard box for Yasuhito Endo, he laid it off to Ryoichi Maeda who lifted his shot high.
The second half opened with Kewell found free inside the box but Japan captain Makoto Hasebe was on hand to block his effort. Australia thought they had scored after Wilkshire’s cross came off the bar, took a deflection off Cahill and appeared to cross the line, although replays showed Maya Yoshida intercepted the ball just in time. A precision cross from Yuto Nagatomo found Okazaki inside the box but the striker headed was just wide with Schwarzer beaten. Kawashima twice thwarted Kewell as the Socceroos attempted to finish the game in regulation time.
The first period of extra-time produced some of the most exciting football of the match. Substitute Brett Emerton fired wide, Robbie Kruse was denied by Kawashima’s acrobatic save and on the counterattack Keisuke Honda shot drifted just wide of Schwarzer’s post. Japan took the lead four minutes into the second period when Nagamoto get down the left and played a pinpoint cross to an unmarked Lee, who lashed his superb first-time volley into the net. Despite piling on the pressure in the closing stages, Australia could not find an equaliser and were left to ponder what might have been.
SYDNEY CLAIM VICTORY OVER LACKLUSTRE GLORY
Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson has savaged his players following this evenings 2-0 capitulation to Sydney FC at Perth Oval. Just 5,576 fans turned up to watch Nick Carle and Bruno Cazarine find the net and keep alive Sydney’s slim hopes of making the play-offs. “I think since I’ve been here that’s probably the worst I’ve seen us play in a long time,” Ferguson declared. “We’ve got two games to go and the sooner the season finishes the better for everyone.”
Sydney adapted better to stifling heat and humidity by seizing the initiative from the get go. Tando Velaphi tipped a shot from 22-metres by Carle over the crossbar before Cazarine headed narrowly high after climbing highest to meet a Scott Jamieson corner. The visitors continued to press forward and on 9 minutes Carle looped a header over the advancing goalkeeper that found the net after playing a tidy one-two with Cazarine.
Having been awoken from their slumber, Glory forced their way into the contest but Jacob Burns, Adriano Pellegrino and Scott Neville failed to capitalise when chances presented. Sydney, however, were still enjoying plenty of possession in midfield where Carle was pulling the strngs. The only other opportunity of a largely forgettable first half had Velaphi react smartly in blocking Dimitri Petratos’s close range effort.
The opening passages of the second period had Sydney back on top. Their lead was increased on 53 minutes when Sung-Hwan Byun released Petratos down the right from where the youngster clipped the ball on to Cazarine who calmly side-footed under the Velaphi as he raced from his line. To their credit, Glory almost halved the deficit four minutes later with Mile Sterjovski unselfishly dragging the ball back for Robbie Fowler whose low shot fizzed just wide.
Howarth almost embarrassed Ivan Necevski in the Sydney goal with a cross-shot that curled over the flat-footed ‘keeper before landing on the roof of the net. The home side continued to throw men forward and on 67 minutes Pellegrino split the defence open to release Sterjovski whose shot past Necevski was agonisingly wide of the far post. Those close calls led Sydney to adopt a more cautious approach with Glory only other chance being a low drive by substitute Adam Taggart that Necevski proved equal to. The result leaves Glory four points clear of last in the eleven team competition.
GLORY YOUTH SUNK BY MARINERS
Striker Mitchell Duke bagged a first half double to orchestrate Central Coast Mariners a 4-0 win over Perth Glory Youth this afternoon at Pluim Park in Gosford. Duke opened his account early and added a second shortly before the break before being replaced early in the second half with his team well in control. The first half was totally dominated by the home team who could easily have scored six or seven goals with Glory Youth struggling to maintain possession. Duke found the net in the 5th and 40th minutes, either side of a 23rd minute own goal, to send the Mariners into the break well on top.
Glory Youth were a completely different proposition in the second half, creating some promising chances and putting pressure on the home backline. The Mariners, however, did not shut up shop and Bernie Ibini-Isei twice failed to hit the target from good positions, while in the 82nd minute Max Glanville was thwarted by a resolute defence. The Mariners fourth goal arrived in the shadows of full time when captain Sam Munro pushed the ball over the line after a goalmouth scramble. Despite the loss, Glory Youth remain just two points outside the top four in sixth place.
CANBERRA KNOCKS OUT GLORY WOMEN
Canberra United stole all three points from this afternoon’s encounter with Perth Glory Women with a late Ashleigh Sykes header earning the home team a 1-0 win. Players from both teams appeared confused when referee Kirralee Gardener awarded Canberra a free kick with just two minutes remaining, but Emily Van Egmond didn’t hesitate to put in a dangerous cross which was headed in by substitute Sykes. The result means Glory Women finish the 2010/11 regular season in fifth place, only two points outside the finals spots.
First half possession was relatively evenly shared but neither team was able to finish in the final third. Sam Kerr’s heavy touch on route to goal spoiled an early chance for the 17-year old striker, who later in the half was had the target in her sights when Canberra captain Ellie Brush slid in to win the ball. Brush then was working hard at the other end of the field and nearly found the back of the net with a powerful header, only to be denied by a goal line clearance from Jaymee Gibbons.
Glory Women lifted for the second half and Kate Gill was inches away from the opener. Controversy erupted in the 64th minute when Gill put the ball in the net, however, the goal was disallowed after referee Gardener deemed the striker to have kicked the ball out of goalkeeper Lydia Williams’ hands. Substitute Monnique Kofoed attempted to lift her team with an inspiring run forward but her pass through to Gill was shot over the crossbar. Then, just minutes from the end, Sykes popped up to end a promising season for Glory Women.
JOONDALUP HIT SWAN FOR SIX
ECU Joondalup marched into the Night Series quarter finals with a 6-0 mauling of Swan United 6-0 in this evenings early fixture at Macedonia Park. John Thornley bagged a hat-trick with central defender Oliver McGee grabbing a double and Jake Benson-Cooper also on the scoresheet as the northern suburbs outfit totally overwhelmed the opposition. The win ensured Joondalup finished the qualifying phase without loss, but edged out from top spot in Group B by just a single goal to Stirling Lions.
With the temperature still in the high 30’s when kick off arrived, it was hardly surprising the opening passages were somewhat subdued. In fact the first real chance on goal didn’t eventual until the 17th minute when Benson-Cooper’s shot from 16-metres was saved by Swan goalkeeper Jordan Howell. The black and whites fashioned an opening of their own seven minutes later, John Monterosso heading wide after Tom Shepheard was sent away down the right by Niall Hughes.
The game started to open up as the teams became accustomed to the oppressive conditions. Rory Hollingum flashed wide from long-range with Jon Higgins doing likewise at the other end just moments later. Joondalup opened their account after 37 minutes with Thornley sending Howell the wrong way from the penalty spot following Jake DeRe’s foul on Jonathon Stynes. That lead was doubled in stoppage time with McGee heading powerfully into the net from Josh Brooks’ corner to the back post.
Joondalup took control complete of the game after the turnaround, adding two goals in five minutes to leave Swan reeling. Jordan Dodds was immediately in the thick of the action, the substitute crossing from the left for Benson-Cooper to fire in at the back post. Sixty seconds later McGee made it four-nil by rising to heading in from 7-metres. Andy Banks denied Rob Monterosso a consolation goal by saving the Swan captain’s penalty kick awarded after Trent Wood was fouled by Chris Wylie, who was issued his second yellow card.
Playing a man down didn’t seem to phase Joondalup who maintained the momentum and pressed for further goals. The margin blew out to five goals in the 71st minute, Thornley picking himself up after being felled inside the 18-yard box by Rob Monterosso to converted his second spot kick of the night. A minutes later Thornley completed his hat-trick and the scoring by applying a clinical finish after Swan gave the ball way in the middle of the park.
Joondalup assistant coach Andy Petterson has been particularly pleased with how his clubs young players have performed throughout the pre-season. “The young lads in our squad are standing up when they get an opportunity … if they keep this form up it will give the coaching staff some selection headaches,” he said. “We ground out a 2-0 lead at half-time (and) made a few changes at the break. The second half we totally dominated, even when we went down to ten men.”
STIRLING SHOW BAYSWATER NO MERCY
Bayswater City was issued a harsh lesson in the realities of top flight football when thrashed 5-0 by Stirling Lions tonight at Macedonia Park. Jamie Watt and Jamie De Abreu struck in the first half with Corey Cullen adding the teams third before Roberto Lujan chimed in with a late double to give Stirling top spot in Group B. “There was some quality finishing tonight and we worked hard for each other,” coach Paul Lincoln said. “Paul Dugdale was excellent and it’s great to see Roberto Lujan pop up with a couple of goals after struggling with injury last season.”
Gavin Knight could have given Bayswater a dream start but, after robbing David Perich in the middle of the park, the striker’s low shot was saved by James Tuvill. Stirling were slow to get going and didn’t threaten until the 13th minute when Watt headed wide a free kick by Dugdale. Both teams continued to create openings with Watt lifting narrowly high from close-range before Carlos Lopez’ clever flick was blocked by Turvill.
Bayswater should have had the lead on the half hour after Josh Tumoe’s ball into the 18-yard box crashed into the base of the upright after taking a deflection off defender Jason Gavin. Stirling responded to that close escape immediately with Watt curling a superb shot into the top corner from 18-metres to punish a Bayswater defence that failed to clear their lines. Going ahead had a galvanising effect on the hosts who seven minutes later doubled their advantage, De Abreu winning possession on the right and outpacing Nathan Diaz before firing past Gianni Papalia.
The attacking nature of both teams was carried over into the second stanza. A free kick from 18-metres by Phil O’Callaghan dipped the wrong side of the crossbar, then Bayswater’s Damien Catalano fired narrowly high as the sides traded attacks. Stirling posted their third goal in the 67th minute when American import Corey Cullen lashed in his first goal for the club from the edge of the area after captain Michael Pugliese had played Watt down the left flank.
Cullen turned provider four minutes later when his superb through ball put Lujan into space with pacey winger firing past Papalia from 11-metres. To their credit Bayswater’s refused to conceded the game and a fine Catalano shot beat Turvill but flicked the outside of the post. Lujan completed the scoring eight minutes from the final whistle with a low shot from the edge of the box. The remaining minutes were played without incident before referee Josh Mihevc brought proceedings to a close.
FLOREAT BLITZ FORRESTFIELD (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
Floreat Athena are through to the last eight of the Night Series after scoring three times in sixteen minutes to see off Forrestfield United in tonight’s early game at Alfred Skeet Reserve. Liam Boland netted twice and Garin Collins added the other as Floreat maintained their unbeaten record with relative ease, despite a consolation strike from Anthony Lynons. The win puts Floreat at the top of Group D, ahead of Inglewood United courtesy of superior goal difference.
The match started positively as Paul Van Dongen ran onto a James Isaia header only to be superbly denied by Martin Barnes. Twice in the space of a minute Forrestfield threatened to take an early lead, Warren Grieve’s shot on the turn was sent wide for a corner, and from Graham Herd’s delivery Jamie Burns headed high when found unmarked. Those misses were compounded six minutes later when Michael Van Dongen’s exquisite through ball released Paul Van Dongen who unselfishly squared for Boland to drill in.
Floreat tightened their hold on the game fourteen minutes with a second goal, Boland crashing a loose ball into the net from inside the 18-yard box. Forrestfield were effectively put out of the game two minutes later when Boland held the ball up on the right before delivering a superb cross for Collins which headed in from 9-metres. Delgarno prevented Paul Van Dongen from adding a fourth to Floreat’s tally, while going the other way Grieve was denied by a great save from Alex Dunn.
Forrestfield came out for the second half with renewed confidence and nine minutes in Lynons sent a header over the bar after getting on the end of a Herd free kick. Lynons made amends shortly after by tapping in a Burns’ cutback following his winding run down the right. Floreat custodian Dunn pulled off a terrific double save on the hour to keep out successive attempts by Lewis Costley and Lynons, maintaining his team two goal buffer. This near-miss seemed to kick Floreat’s backline into gear and time and time again they stifled the Forrestfield attack. The closest the team in yellow came to scoring a second was when Burns dinked over the ‘keeper but narrowly wide with just ten minutes left.
INGLEWOOD GRANTED PLACE IN FINALS (with Jordan McArdle, Football West)
Rory Grant’s brilliant double booked Inglewood United a place in the Night Series quarter finals with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Armadale at Alfred Skeet Reserve. Grant, who has battled injury for much of the past couple of years, struck early in each half to earn the praise of coach Shane Pryce. “He’s worked very hard this year,” he said. “His mobility and the combination he has got with Ndumba (Makeche) is fruitful for us at the moment.”
Inglewood were rewarded for an attacking approach after just 3 minutes when Grant capitalised on a magnificent Dannie Richman through ball which he sent past goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock. Ndumba Makeche nearly doubled their lead moments later but was denied by an excellent save from Sharrock. Ross Diamond made a meal of Armadale’s first opportunity, spraying a free kick well wide, while Oliver Taseski kept Inglewood’s lead in tact with a terrific double save after some fancy footwork from Daniel Paredes.
Tom Robinson gave Armadale’s supporters something to cheer about four minutes into the second half with a sensational strike to square things up at one-each. The hosts then went within inches of a surprise lead when Michael Grigo flashed a shot just over the crossbar. The deciding goal came on 61 minutes when Grant made no mistake with his penalty kick awarded after Makeche was brought down by Steven McDonald. Both teams stung together some promising moves in the remaining half hour but with neither able to convert it was Inglewood that emerged victors.
Post-game, Pryce made no secret that his club’s future depended on the development of players from within the club. “We’ve got to start bringing our youth through the system, and give them a taste of first team football,” Price said. “The (Night Series) provides a great opportunity to do this. I’m proud of the boys, they will give me everything no matter who we are playing.” The loss brings to a close a disappointing pre-season campaign for Armadale, who finished with just one point from three starts.
IT’S ALL UP FOR GRABS IN THE NIGHT SERIES
All eight quarter-final berths will be decided by the final round of Night Series group fixtures. This evening at Alfred Skeet Oval has an as yet unbeaten Floreat Athena against Division One underdogs Forrestfield United (6.30pm). A draw will be enough to send Floreat through to the knock-out phase, however, Forrestfield have no intention of finishing bottom of Group D and without a win so you can be guaranteed they’ll be pulling out all the stops in an attempt to spoil their opponents party.
The late game brings together host club Armadale and Inglewood United (8.30pm). The Reds’ campaign has been blighted by injury and suspension but if Steve McDonald, Tom Robinson and Jason Goodwin can get firing they might just cause an upset. Ndumba Makeche is out to score for the third successive week for Inglewood who, with the likes of James Sammut and Brendan Craig pushing for a starting berth, enter the game as strong favourites to progress.
ECU Joondalup need only draw with Swan United (6.30pm) to progress to the finals from Group B at Macedonia Park. John Thornley, Jon Higgins and Chris Wylie have been in fine touch and their influence going into the final third will be vital as the team from the far north attempt to finish in top spot. Swan sit just 90 minutes away from certain elimination but that’s not going to stop Diego Garcia, Tom Shepheard and Trent Wood from giving it their all one last time.
The late game at Macedonia Park is a winner-take-all affair between Stirling Lions and Bayswater City (8.30pm). Stirling welcome David Perich into the squad and with Michael Pugliese and Jason Gavin forming a solid defensive line you have to fancy their chances of getting at least the point they need to move into the last eight. For Bayswater to go through they must win and for that to happen they’ll need to gave Josh Tumoe, Cisco Jorquiera and Gustavo Marulanda back in the line-up.
Perth SC should book themselves into the quarter-finals by taking what they need from an as yet pointless Wanneroo City (5.00pm) on Sunday at Percy Doyle Reserve. Ronnie Campbell’s team is beginning to find their feet with David Onoforo and Antonio Naglieri on target in last week’s vital win over Balcatta. Jake Lennox and Nick Timmings gave good accounts of themselves when Wanneroo pushed Sorrento all the way last time out before succumbing to a couple of late strikes.
The late Group C fixture brings together Sorrento and Balcatta (7.00pm) in what looms as the pick of the round. Brodie Martin, Stuart Banks and Danny Cain will be key figures for the host club as they attempt to remain unbeaten and qualify for the play-offs. Balcatta, however, have other ideas and must win in order to end the Gulls pre-season campaign. Captain Adam Tong has been displaying some terrific form and along with Jason Barrera and Geneveo Human must again turn on the style to get Balcatta over the line.
Group A comes to a close on Sunday at Hyundai Stadium, where first up its Bunbury Forum Force verses Cockburn City (5.00pm). A point will send Cockburn through but with Jonny Mirco, Adrian Webster and Marc Anthony firing they have more than just a point in mind. This is the last hurrah for Division One club Bunbury and they’ll want to go out with a bang. Homegrown goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery looks like being an important player for them this season along with Jayden Prossor and Rory Binnie.
The odds are stacked firmly against Mandurah City who must beat Western Knights (7.00pm) by a sizeable margin to make the play-offs. Captain Andy Brown and midfield pair Matt Stares and Jordan Rhodes must be on top of their game for the Dolphins to stand any chance of causing an upset. The Knights have the best goal difference in the group and with Luka Jukic and Glen Thomas pulling the strings it is going to take something special to stop them.
MICEVSKI GOING SOLO
Gold Medal winner David Micevski has opened a new chapter in his career by signing with Solo FC in the newly formed Indonesian Premier League. Micevski, Western Knights star performer of the last three season, jumped at the opportunity to play professionally again. "The move happened quite quickly," explained Micevski, who was on the books of Perth Glory for eighteen months. "Aleks Vrteski, who has also signed with the club, got in contact with me and asked me to send over my CV and highlights. Both the coach and CEO were keen to have a look at me and get me over, so I flew to Indonesia within a week and they signed me."
Indonesia's new independent league kicked off a few weeks back and Micevski, who missed his teams opening game due to paperwork delays, has been blown away with what he's so far seen. "I wasn't cleared to play the opening game of the season which was at home in front of a packed stadium - 35,000 were at the match with people climbing on walls to watch," Micevski said. "People are football-crazy in Solo. The atmosphere is incredible. At our training session before the first match we had over 1000 fans present."
Micevski got his first taste of the new league in last weekend's 2-1 win at Batavia Union. "The stadium we played at was probably one of the worst in the league, the pitch was extremely muddy and wet but that's to be expected at some stadiums here in Indonesia," he said. "Thankfully our home ground is one of the better ones in the league and we also have one of the best if not the best support base in the league. I'm already looking forward to playing my first game at home against Bandung FC this Saturday in front of another packed stadium."
Solo FC are based in the city of Surakarta, home to 600,000 people, in Central Java. "It is a quiet city compared to other places in Indonesia such as Jakarta and Bali. That's a good thing because it lets me concentrate solely on playing football," he said. "The league is new and the whole reason behind it is to start a new revolution in Indonesian football. It is well run and funded so the signs are looking up for the LPI (Liga Primer Indonesia) to take off. The media coverage is exceptional and there are several live games every week."
Football is a full-time job for the players of the Indonesian Premier League. "Training during the week is full on," Micevski said. "If we play on a Saturday we usually have Sunday as recovery and Monday is a jogging/gym session. Tuesday we have a double track session, Wednesday is one session, Thursday we have another double session and Friday is light training before we play the next day. Our coach Branko Babic is held in high regard all over the world and has won trophies in the J-League (Japan)."
Although the Indonesian Premier League is still in its infancy Micevski says the standard of football compares favourably to the State League. "It is difficult to compare the standard between the WA Premier League and here because the style of play is different, and players here are technical but perhaps not as physical," commented Micevski, who sees a big future for the fledgling competition. "The league has brought in a lot of foreign coaches from all around the world and will only get stronger as the years go by."
Micevski is enjoying his time in Indonesia and isn't ruling out extending his time there. "I always wanted to play overseas so I'm happy that I am finally here. It will be an experience of a lifetime. Whether playing over here will bring interest from A-League clubs doesn't concern me at the moment, I'm just concentrating on playing well for my current club, Solo FC," Micevski said. "As for next season if I'm enjoying myself over here I see why I wouldn't stay in Indonesia for another year. Everyone at the club has been extremely welcoming and our supporters are fantastic."
MAKECHE AT HOME IN THE WOOD
A desire to be playing regular first team football was a major factor in teenager striker's Ndumba Makeche summer move to Inglewood United. The switch has paid immediate dividends for 18-year old Makeche, who has been a strong contributor to his new clubs unbeaten start in the Night Series. "I've settled in great at the club. The boys welcomed me with open arms and having played with Darko Ilomanoski, Daniel Stoitis and Jake Geddes at the Lions made it much easier," Makeche explained. "I've managed to score a couple of goals and having Rory's (Grant) experience helps me, he is very professional and easy to work with."
After struggling to break into Stirling's starting line-up last year, Makeche felt the time was right for him to seek greener pastures. "There were other clubs who contacted me about next season, but after talking to Inglewood I was sure they were the ones I wanted to play for," commented Zambia-born Makeche. "Macedonia Park was my home for five years means I had to leave lots of friends behind. That made the decision to leave very tough, because the five years I spent there were priceless."
Inglewood coach Shane Pryce has been pleased with Makeche's first few outings with the club. "He's settled in very well. His attitude and temperament is a credit to him, his ability to beat a defender one-on-one is his biggest asset and his pace gets him into great positions," said Pryce, who is hoping Makeche's partnership with Grant will reap rewards. "That combination should be a fruitful one. Rory is looking fitter this year and is injury-free so all is well at the moment. And we still have Jake Geddes to come back as well."
Having closed the door on his time at Macedonia Park the teenager is now focusing on helping Inglewood move up the table after an indifferent 2010. "We have a talented squad, mixed with youth and experience. This is good because there is competition for first team places," said Makeche, who is looking forward to the challenge of establishing himself at Inglewood. "It's a big test for me. I hope to score as many goals and help the team finish as high as possible, with the quality we have at the club the goal is to make the top five."
FORM BEHIND AXING OF COYNE: FERGUSON
Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson insists former captain Jamie Coyne's axing from the side is solely related to form rather than a clause in his A-League contract. Coyne, who hasn't featured since 3 January, needs to play just one more game this season to trigger a clause in his contract guaranteeing him another year with the club. The Australian Professional Footballer Association has leapt to the defence of the 30-year old, believing he has been unfairly overlooked for selection for almost a month due to no fault of his own.
However, Ferguson said the only issue was Coyne's form, despite the defender playing 23 of 24 games before his omission. "It was nothing to do with anything that Jamie's suggesting, it's just basically down to form and as I said, I'm taking a different direction and want to just try somebody else in those positions," Ferguson said. "Jamie, I sort of left out because I felt like I wanted to go a different direction. If you look at Jamie the last four or five games ... certain goals have came in and certain things have happened from his side - that was the reason he's been left out."
CLUB AND COUNTRY REWARDS SPUR ON LOWRY
Shane Lowry is determined to do his bit to move Sheffield United away from the wrong end of the English Championship table, and in the process improve his prospects with both parent club Aston Villa and the Socceroos. The 21-year old agreed to join the Blades on loan for the remainder of the season as one of several additions made by new boss Micky Adams in the January transfer window. Lowry already knows his way around Yorkshire having enjoyed two loan stints at Leeds United last season when he helped that club win promotion from League One.
Although many are tipping the fourth-from-bottom Blades for relegation, Lowry insists their low placing gives a false impression. "At the moment I feel like they are at the wrong end of the table," Lowry said. "A club like Sheffield United needs to be pushing for the play-offs or automatic promotions. Hopefully I can come in and help them get the results. It's important we do that, so hopefully we can all stick together, get a few good results, and get us moving up the table."
Lowry made his Blades debut against Coventry City (0-0) and also featured in the weekend loss to Coventry City. "The lads and the gaffer have welcomed me and everyone has made me feel quite settled. I've really enjoyed it so far," Lowry told yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk. "From what I've seen so far the quality is good. They have got a lot of options all over the pitch which is going to give the gaffer a headache with the team selection. That's why players like me are here, we've made a few signings this transfer window and it's only going to mean competition for places."
Lowry knows full well the size of the task in hand, both with the Blades and at Villa. He joined the latter in early 2005 and has risen up through youth and reserve team levels to be on the fringes of senior football. Although he's featured in several high-profile pre-season friendlies, competitively Lowry has been limited to just three first team appearances as a substitute. The defender penned a new two-year contract with the Midlands outfit in May and very much hopes his long-term future lies at Villa Park.
Even so, Lowry has no idea what may lie ahead and is taking his Blades loan spell very seriously. "Its tough being at a Premiership club with a couple of players in front of you when you're trying to break through," said Lowry. "I signed a deal in May towards the end of last season so I'm contracted for another eighteen months, but it's always hard and you are just waiting for an opportunity up against players like those. These are the types of move you have to make if you want to prove to people that you can player at a higher level."
A successful loan could take Lowry a step closer to his first Socceroos cap. "Obviously I want to play for the Australian national team and it's a massive goal of mine," he said. "I went to the warm-up squad for the World Cup and just missed out on the 23, so obviously my next goal is to get my first international cap and to play for Australia in the new future. At the same time my club form is important to that and if I can play well for Sheffield United I might get the recognition to get into the Australian national squad."
SOCCEROOS MARCH INTO ASIAN CUP FINAL
The Socceroos delivered an Australia Day present with a stunning 6-0 demolition of Uzbekistan from the Asian Cup semi-final at Khalifa Stadium in Doha. Australia turned in a ruthless performance in front of 24,836 fans with Harry Kewell, Sasa Ognenovski, David Carney, Brett Emerton, Carl Valeri and Robbie Kruse all scoring to earn Australia’s first shot at the continental trophy. But star of the show was midfielder Matt McKay who brilliantly set up three goals in a man-of-the-match performance.
It took Australia just 5 minutes to unlock their opponents’ defence, Kewell playing a neat one-two with Matt McKay whose superb turn played his team mate into space to fire beyond goalkeeper Timur Juraev. Uzbekistan were very much in the game during the first half but their smart build up play was constantly thwarted by a stingy Socceroos defence. Australia continued to find plenty of space and doubled their lead when Ognenovski hammered a low shot past the ‘keeper after picking up the scraps of 35th minute kick free by Carney.
Mark Schwarzer, in his record equalling 87th ‘A’ appearance for Australia, was called into action only once with a diving save to deny Odil Akhmedov in the second half. Goal number three arrived in the 64th minute when Kruse fed McKay who played the ball through for Carney to coolly slot into the net. Any hopes Uzkebistan had of clawing their way back into the game evaporated minutes later when Ulugbek Bakaev was issued his second yellow after scything down Luke Wilkshire.
The floodgates were now open and the result was slightly embarrassing to the Uzbekistan side who had performed strongly throughout the tournament. Kruse squandered several opportunities but unselfishly played the ball across to Emerton who put the ball in the back of the net in the 73th minute. Australia’s fifth came about though a clever flick by Kruse to McKay who set up Valeri to blast in at close-range. With seven minutes to go Kruse finally added himself to the list of scorers when his tame shot trickled into the net after an error by Juraev allowed the ball to slip under his body.
KUCERA SETS HIGH STANDARD
Former State Government Minister Bob Kucera is the new chairman of Football West. Kucera will serve a four-year term after being voted in by the associations Board yesterday, replacing Kevin Campbell who retired from the position last month. “I’m very proud and privileged to be voted in as the Chair and am excited for the future of this organisation and WA football,” said Kucera, who has served on the board for the past eighteen months.
Kucera has set his sights on giving the local game a new sense of professionalism. “I’d like to see the people who play soccer, administer it and have enormous passion for it, convert that into professionalism,” he said. “Often things are not done in the best interests of the broader game. We want to see not just a passion for the game but a passion for actually growing the sport. Then we will have achieved something. I think you convert that passion by persistence; by showing that the professional way of doing things is the right way to go.”
Kucera also wants to oversee continued improvement to local competitions and development pathways, the establishment of a new home for the game and a strengthening of Football West’s relationship with Perth Glory. Despite Glory’s fall from grace this season, Kucera believes stronger association between the local football community and the state’s A-League representative would put the sport in a better position to engage local and State Government and encourage better relationships with the corporate sector.
Football West chief executive Peter Hugg said Kucera was the natural choice to succeed Campbell and his election had been unanimous. “Bob is an ideal appointment with his wealth of knowledge and his position within the Perth and WA community,” Hugg said. “From my perspective, I look forward to working with Bob and utilising that knowledge and his contacts to drive the sport forward.” Hugg thanked Campbell for his tireless work since the formation of the Football West board in 2004.
GIVING YOUTH A CHANCE HAS NEVILLE’S BACKING
Scott Neville believes the weekend loss at Wellington Phoenix could prove to be a blessing in disguise for some of Perth Glory’s youth brigade. With a host of first team regulars absent, including marquee striker Robbie Fowler and captain Jacob Burns, coach Ian Ferguson handed first eleven places to Tommy Amphlett, Howard Fondyke and Josh Risdon with Brent Griffiths, Adam Taggart and Cameron Edwards coming off the bench. Although overwhelmed 4-0 by their more experienced opponent, it provided Ferguson a possible glimpse of the future.
Neville, 22 and already wearing the captain’s armband, feels the youngsters will benefit greatly from their run against Wellington. “(The A-League) is tougher than a lot of them think. It’s hard out there,” said Neville. “Wellington showed today, with the experience and the side they’ve got that our young boys are going to have to work a lot harder to get up to the standard that they are at. It may be was a good thing today because they showed us where we have to be because they are at a different level.”
The next few weeks will be about giving the younger players the chance to push for contracts next season according to Ferguson. “They will be given a chance at A-League level and they’ll be judged on that. At youth team level they’ve obviously done something and they look pretty reasonable and comfortable at that level but I want to try them now at A-League level. It’s a totally different game,” said the Glory boss. “There are some good players in there and some good young kids coming through. Hopefully we can add a few for next season and we can get Perth Glory back in winning ways.”
HERD INSPIRED BY BEST MATE LOWRY
Chris Herd wants to follow up his English Premier League breakthrough by earning a call-up for Australia, and he’s using best mate Shane Lowry as his inspiration. Lowry got a taste of the international scene when he made the Socceroos' provisional World Cup squad last year and Herd is keen to take that same path after breaking in to Aston Villa's first team squad and penning a new three-and-a-half year contract. "It would be a great honour to play for my country and I'd love to play for them," he said. "Shane has been involved and he said it is brilliant every time he has been there."
Lowry, 21, just missed out on Australia's squad for the Asia Cup but remains hopeful of an international call-up in the not too distant future. "They had a provisional squad and I was in that," explained Lowry, who played for the Republic of Ireland at youth level before committing his senior international career to Australia. "I didn't make the final cut but hopefully in the next few games I can get involved. My main aim at the moment is with Aston Villa but if I can get into the Australia squad that would be a bonus."
Herd has maintained a close friendship with Lowry since the pair played together for ECU Joondalup. And he admits their mutual support for each other has played a big part in their development. "I was born in Melbourne and then I moved to Perth so I have known Shane since was 11-years old," said Herd, who joined Villa with Herd almost six years ago. "We came through the same academy back home together and have been mates ever since then. It was a great help coming here with Shane and coming through together. He is one of my best mates over here."
FERGUSON SHARPENS THE AXE
The axe is set to fall on a host of Perth Glory players as coach Ian Ferguson assesses a forgettable season. Several players will be told they will not be re-signed in the days leading into Glory's final game of the campaign on 10 February. Star recruit Robbie Fowler, loyal servant Jamie Harnwell, Adriano Pellegrino, goalkeeper Tando Velaphi, Howard Fondyke, Anthony Skorich, Naum Sekulovski, Josh Mitchell and Brent Griffiths are all coming out of contract at seasons end. There are promising signs for the clubs youth team players with Adam Taggart, Josh Risdon and Cameron Edwards all featuring in yesterday's loss at Wellington Phoenix.
QUALITY LEFT BACKS ARE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN: LAZARIDIS
It wasn't all that long ago that Australia had a wealth of classy left sided players who could defend, run up and down the sideline for 90 minutes, put in a decent cross and even score the odd goal. With names such as Stan Lazaridis, Tony Vidmar, Danny Tiatto and Scott Chipperfield, Australia had an ample supply of a rare commodity in world football. It was a golden era in which the Socceroos were spoiled for choice. Sadly, however, as we have seen with the Socceroos of late, those days are well and truly over.
When left back David Carney went down injured during the Asian Cup tie with South Korea, Australia coach Holger Osieck was left scratching his head for a replacement before settling on midfielder Matt McKay, who was clearly uncomfortable in the role. "I thought it was unfair to use McKay in that role," Lazaridis told Ray Gatt of 'the Australian' newspaper. "Don't get me wrong. He is a great player and I have a lot of time for Matty, but he is a midfielder, a classy one at that. It wasn't his fault but I could see he got himself into a bit of bother at times."
Lazaridis, capped 60 times, says Australian football is going through a new cycle and that the left back position has been seriously affected. "We had a great period there for a long time when we had Viddy, Danny, Chippers and myself," he said. "But look at the Socceroos squad in Qatar now. Osieck has two players, even three for the goalkeeping, in every position bar left back. It is a tough one because who is around? There is a definite dearth at the moment with our guys overseas and here. The good left backs here in the A-League are imports, so that is no use to us."
Lazaridis, who played over 300 games in England for West Ham United and Birmingham City, has thrown out a challenge to the young players of Australia. "I guess the younger guys like the excitement of playing closer to the action up front, but I implore anyone who has got a good left foot to consider their options," he said. "I would suggest having a go at playing at left back. It could open up many doors. For a start, there is obviously a great opportunity with the Socceroos, and overseas clubs are always on the look out for left-sided players … that's how I got my start in England, purely because I could play that role."
UNION CRIES FOUL ON COYNE'S CONTRACT
The Australian players' union is investigating the circumstances surrounding Jamie Coyne's sudden exclusion from the Perth Glory team, alleging a breach of the players' contract. Professional Footballers Australia chief executive Brendan Schwab has spoken to Football Federation Australia about the matter and hopes to negotiate a solution. Coyne, one of Glory's longest servants after 152 games, has been left in the cold since edging to within one appearance of triggering a new one-year deal.
Coyne featured in 23 of Glory's 24 games but was dumped for last weekend's clash with Melbourne Heart and the mid-week fixture against Central Coast Mariners. Coach Ian Ferguson claimed Coyne was omitted so Josh Mitchell could be tried at left back. But his absence from the travelling party for Sunday's game at Wellington Phoenix has cast doubt on the club's motivation, especially with Robbie Fowler and Chris Coyne injured, Adriano Pellegrino and Jamie Harnwell suspended, and Jacob Burns remaining in Perth because his wife is expecting to give birth soon.
The PFA warned clubs late last week against leaving out players because of their contracts. "A professional footballer has a legal right to work which is implied into his contract of employment and forms a fundamental part of it," Schwab said. "To satisfy this legal obligation, clubs must act in good faith to their players and consider them for selection on merit." Schwab said a club breached a player's contract if it did not pick him on merit and that a violation would entitle a player to terminate and seek compensation.
KNIGHTS HIGH FIVE
Western Knights have moved closer to a place in the Night Series finals after whipping Bunbury Forum Force 5-0 at Hyundai Stadium. Stuart Montgomery got the show on the road with the Knights opener before Simon Versaico tallied up a double and effectively end the game as a contest. The second half continued in similar fashion with the more experienced Knights adding further goals through Montgomery and Daniel Trim.
The opening exchanges had Bunbury on the attack and Sebastian Bell unleashing the first shot on goal. However, the Knights were soon enough on the scoreboard when Duncan Hind's long ball from the back found Versiaco who skipped past two defenders and cut inside before laying off for an unmarked Montgomery to slide past the goalkeeper. Bunbury wanted a quick equaliser and almost got one through Brian Maybin whose rose well but headed just high in meeting a Jayden Prosser corner.
That miss was compounded in the 18th minute when Versaico leapt highest to nod in a cross by Montgomery. Not content to sit on their two-goal lead, the Knights piled on the pressure and rained shots down on the Bunbury goal where Montgomery kept his team in the game with several quality saves. The 'keeper was finally beaten two minutes from the break when Daniel Trim's header from a Luka Jukic corner was cleared off the line and Versaico lashed in the loose ball.
In an attempt to prevent their opponents from tallying up a cricket score Bunbury tightened things up defensively for the second half. Even so, Montgomery broke through in the 67th minute by latching onto Glen Thomas' superb pass and skipping past one opponent before firing into the net in a one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Only two minutes more passed before Jukic pumped a free kick deep into the area where Duncan Hind rose highest to head goal number five in at the near post.
Bunbury refused to give up hope but Kieran Quinn was denied a consolation goal when Fraser Siddall kept out his header from a Prosser cross. Nigel Wilcox, coach of Bunbury, had no complaints with the outcome, saying his young team will learn a lot from playing the back-to-back premiers. "The Knights are champions and they're champions for a reason," said Wilcox. ""They are a good side and it is good experience for us, you take on board what has happened today and we'll be better for it."
COCKBURN GET HOME
A fast paced game played in wet conditions at Hyundai Stadium ended in a 2-0 win to Cockburn City over Mandurah City. Cockburn captain Adrian Webster posted his teams first goal shortly before half-time with Johnny Mirco sealing victory late in the second half. The game's first drama came after only a few minutes when an error by goalkeeper Phil Straker presented Cockburn with an open goal, however, a last gasp tackle prevent the visitors from getting a clean shot on goal. Aaron Dos Santos' strike was brilliantly saved by Straker in the 21st minute as Cockburn began to get on top. The deadlock was eventually broken after 44 minutes when Webster's shot crashed into the net, giving Cockburn a deserved half-time lead.
The teams emerged for the second period raring to go with both testing the other's defensive metal. Matt Stares was denied a golden opportunity to equalise in the 69th minute when by Dejan Aleksic's diving save that sent the ball around the post. The game was made safe eight minutes later by Mirco whose brilliant touch allowed him to tame the ball then lash it into the net from the corner of the 18-yard box. Mandurah tried deseperately to pull a goal back in the remaining minutes but could find few holes in their opponents defence. The win positions Cockburn well to qualify for the tournaments' knockout phase.
JOONDALUP HOLD OFF BAYSWATER (by Jordan McArdle, Football West)
ECU Joondalup kept at bay a spirited second half performance by Bayswater City to register an impressive 3-1 victory from the opening Night Series fixture at Macedonia Park. Jon Higgins struck early and John Thornley converted a penalty to give Joondalup a handy two-goal buffer at the break. Oliver McGee pout away their third goal following the turnaround before Damien Catalano grabbed Bayswater a consolation. "It was great to get our first win on the board and hopefully we can carry that form into our next game against Swan United and finish top of our group," said Thornley. "The boys gelled together really well in just our second game of the season."
Joondalup seemed to have the ball on a string throughout the early passages of play. It took them just 7 minutes to open up their account when Higgins blistering free kick from just outside the 18-yard box flew into Francis Allen's net. There'd be no let up for Bayswater who narrowly escaped conceding a second goal when midfielder Jake Benson-Cooper found some space. As it was, the team from the northern suburbs need wait only until the 17th minutes for Thornley to net from the spot after Benson-Cooper was brought down by defender Goran Radiniovic.
The half time whistle could not come soon enough for Bayswater who struggled to get into the game. Joondalup resumed the attack upon the start and on 53 minutes McGee headed in a sensational Higgins free kick to make it three-nil. There was finally some relief for Bayswater on 72 minutes when Catalano scored from the penalty spot after strike partner Gavin Knight was brought down by substitute Ben Kelly. A stunning save from Andy Banks denied Bayswater a second goal, the goalkeeper miraculously tipped Knight's scorching free kick over the crossbar.
SWAN NO MATCH FOR HUNGRY LIONS
Stirling Lions moved clear at the top of Group B after mauling Swan United 5-1 this evening at Macedonia Park. Swan made a positive start with John Monterosso on-target early, however, it was all down hill from there with Bobby Wilson equalising soon after and Michael Pugliese netting twice to put Stirling three-one up at the interval. Jamie Watt made the game safe with a second half double to position Stirling well for the last eight.
Swan could not have dreamt of a making better start, Diego Garcia's inch perfect through ball releasing John Monterosso who struck low past goalkeeper James Turvill with only 5 minutes gone. However, the lead was to be short lived as five minutes later Wilson brought the teams' level by heading in a corner played to the back post by Phil O'Callaghan. The two quick goals had set the scene for an all-action first half loaded with chances on goal.
Daniel Agudelo recovered quickly to block Watt's shot after the Swan custodian spilled a Jamie De Abreu cross. John Monterosso should have had his second goal of the night but after rounding Turvill he blazed high from 7-metres, and Garcia sent a low shot agonisingly wide of the post. Roberto Lujan then squandered a golden opportunity at the other end, blazing wide after being picked out by Watt as the Swan defence stood appealing for offside.
Turvill came to his sides rescue with a stunning one-handed save to keep John Monterosso's long-range effort. Swan's inability to convert was punished on 36 minutes when Pugliese reacted quickly by firing in at close-range after Agudelo parried a Wilson free kick from the top of the 18-yard box. Pugliese was on hand again nine minutes later, tucking into the net after Agudelo blocked a shot from Watt.
Swan started the second half positively, John Monterosso hitting a long-range attempt past the post. But Watt made certain of the points with a couple of quick fire goals for the hosts, the striker applying a clinical finish in the 69th minute after being found by Huss Awada. Five minutes later a quick break down the right led by De Abreu saw him cross for Watt, who finished with aplomb from 6-metres. Agudelo denied Watt his hat-trick with a superb save seven minutes from the end.
Despite his teams' slow start, coach Paul Lincoln was pleased with Stirling's overall performance. "Credit to John and the Swan side they played attacking football and caught us on the counter attack a few times," said Lincoln. "We had a talk at the break and I think we over ran them at the end. Jamie Watt's goals were superbly taken, and the big win makes our goal difference healthier which is pleasing."
MELBOURNE SNATCHES POINT FROM GLORY WOMEN
The finals hopes of Perth Glory Women remain intact after this afternoon's 1-1 with Melbourne Victory at 6PR Stadium in Inglewood. The home team looked on course for a maiden finals appearance after Elisa D'Ovidio fired them into the lead just before half time. However, the lead was short lived as two minutes after the restart Stephanie Catley levelled, and with neither team able to add a second the points were shared.
Glory Women had several clear-cut chances for an early first half lead. The back of the net eluded Collette McCallum on several occasions while visiting captain Melissa Barbieri captured the ball on the line after Sam Kerr's attempt hit the post. D'Ovidio finally broke through in the 39th minute with a brilliant chip over Barbieri. Kate Gill then tried her luck from outside the 18-yard box but her effort was just wide of the target.
The second half had been under way just minutes when Catley blasted the ball beyond Tine Cederkvist to level the scores. This sparked an intense period of pressure from Glory Women during which a D'Ovidio shot deflected off a defender and was expertly palmed away by Barbieri. McCallum, Gill and Kerr all had chances to grab the headlines for the home side but were unable to finish in the final third. The result leaves Glory Women needing victory next weekend at Canberra United to seal a semi-final spot.
WELLINGTON SHOW GLORY NO MERCY
Wellington Phoenix got their top six aspirations back on track with a 4-0 mauling of Perth Glory at a wet and windy Westpac Stadium. A blunder by goalkeeper Tando Velaphi gifted the home side an early lead before a well-taken free-kick by Dylan MacAllister, a nice volley home by Vince Lia and a late header from Chris Greenacre wrapped up the three points. The win lifts Wellington above Newcastle Jets and into seventh place, and only one point behind Melbourne Heart in sixth spot.
In freezing conditions and a rain-sodden pitch, it took the hosts just a minute to fashion the chance which MacAllister headed wide from Marco Rojas’ cross. Glory threatened soon after with Mile Sterjovski slipping a quality ball through to Tommy Amphlett only to be thwarted by Manny Muscat’s well-timed tackle. Wellington hit the front after 10 minutes when an off-balance Velaphi paddled the ball into his own net under pressure from Tim Brown after Nick Ward’s header looped up into the air off the crossbar.
Wellington were unlucky not to double their lead in the 21st minute when goalkeeper Danny Vukovic’s long punt forward bounced over Velaphi, who had come off his line to clear, and came back off the bar with MacAllister fluffing the rebound. Branko Jelic soon had a penalty appeal dismissed after he appeared to be felled by Lia. On the half hour MacAllister missed an absolute sitter, pushing the ball across the face of goal from all of a metre after Lia’s shot hit the post. Todd Howarth twice went close to equalising late in the half, chipping on the roof of the net and later nodding wide a superb Josh Risdon cross.
It didn’t take long for Wellington to strike after the turnaround, MacAllister driving in a 25-metre free kick which Steve McGarry had the misfortune of deflecting past Velaphi. A counterattack on the hour saw Rojas weave his way towards goal before intelligently cutting back for Lia, who made amends for his poor first touch by lashing in on the half volley. Glory refused to lie down but Jelic’s powerful header from a Howarth cross was held by Vukovic. The game had entered stoppage time when Greenacre added the hosts fourth goal, heading in from 7-metres after meeting a Lia cross from the right.
LAST-GASP KEWELL STRIKE SENDS SOCCEROOS THROUGH
Australia will make their first ever appearance in the Asian Cup semi-finals courtesy of Harry Kewell's dramatic late extra-time goal that earned the Socceroos a 1-0 win over Iraq. Both sides wasted countless chances throughout a see-sawing encounter that seemed destined for penalties before Kewell intervened to tee up a last four meeting with Uzbekistan on Tuesday. "We had more of the game, we played solidly in defence, we had a good structure, we played up, we had good chances," Socceroos coach Holger Osieck said. "Iraq probably only had one great opportunity, the rest came from half chances … we should have done our job in 90 minutes and Iraq came on very strong in extra time."
Lucas Neill gave the Socceroos their real first sight at goal by hooking the ball into the 18-yard box where Brett Holman's prod would have found the net had it not been for the intervention of goalkeeper Mohammed Gassid. Matt McKay was the next to go close, the midfielder pouncing on Samal Saaed's poor clearance only to put his attempted chip high of the crossbar. The momentum remained with Australia but Sasa Ognenovski headed wide and McKay shot straight at Gassid. Kewell should have done better than over high after being put through one-on-one with the ‘keeper.
Iraq should have had a goal of their own after the interval when Younis Mahmoud released Emad Mohammed whose shot trickled just wide of the post. Australia hit straight back as Brett Holman, Kewell and Mile Jedinak all produced shots at goal. The best came on 65 minutes when McKay's corner was sent across goal by Neill, but Ognenovski could only direct his close-range header straight at Gassid. Holman twice tried his luck from distance with the second drawing an instinctive save from Gassid after a deflection. Iraq threatened in the dying moments with Mark Schwarzer denying Mustafa Kareem the winner.
Ognenovski had the best chance of the first period of extra-time when his bicycle kick, destined for goal, was inadvertently headed over by Jedinak. Neill was lucky not to give away a penalty for his last-ditch challenge on Alaa Abdul Zahra, while Scott McDonald twice failed to make the most of headers at the other end. Iraq had chances of their own with the best coming via a Mustafa Karim cross that Younis Mahmoud headed straight into the ground. But just as a penalty shootout loomed, Kewell benefited from a sublime ball from McKay that he nodded in after 118 minutes to send the reigning champions out of the tournament.
MAKECHE'S LATE STRIKE DENIES FLOREAT (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
Ndumba Makeche netted in the final minutes to grab Inglewood United a 2-2 draw with Floreat Athena in this evenings opening fixture of the Night Series at Alfred Skeet Oval. Floreat looked set to register their second win from last many starts after Daniel Trevisiol and Liam Boland struck in the second half to cancel out Rory Grant’s early opener. However, Makeche was in the right place at the right time to snatch a share of the points, a result that virtually assures Floreat and Inglewood a place in the quarter-finals.
Paul Van Dongen should have done better with the first chance of the evening, the midfielder heading wide when unmarked after being found by Miki Vujacic’s 5th minute corner. Makeche hit an angled drive just off target at the other end, then Inglewood goalkeeper Oliver Taseski was forced to tip a Trevisiol header over the crossbar. Inglewood drew first blood in the 13th minute, Makeche playing through for Grant who took a touch before showing great composure to slot the ball past the advancing Alex Dunn.
Floreat wanted a quick response but Michael Van Dongen’s volley from the top of the 18-yard box was narrowly wide. Brendan Craig was giving the Floreat defence plenty of problems down the left and in the 36th minute his vicious angled strike from 14-metres crashing back off the upright. Shortly after Craig tested Dunn with another powerful effort from distance. Trevisiol didn’t get enough on a glancing header from Jack Allen’s centre, then snapped narrowly over from 13-metres on the stroke of half-time.
Floreat came out looking much hungrier after the break and might have drawn level immediately but Paul Van Dongen couldn’t keep his header down from James Isaia’s corner. Grant and Craig combined well at the other end with the latter unable to steer his angled shot past Dunn. Isaia then did wonderfully well to intercept a pass but couldn’t beat the evergreen Taseski from just outside the area. Floreat was rewarded after 67 minutes when Trevisiol battled hard to win possession and took a couple of strides forward before drilling an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner.
Six minutes later Floreathit the front, a cross from the right was flicked on and Boland was on hand to head into the back of the net. Boland had a chance to seal victory with four minutes left on the clock but Taseski brilliantly raced off his line to smother the shot. That importance of that save was magnified in the 90 minute when Makeche instinctively pounced on a loose ball and from an acute fired into the net to dramatically snatch a draw. Floreat and Inglewood will enter next weekend’s final round of group fixtures sitting jointly on top of Group D and needing only a draw to progress to the last eight.
ARMADALE SALVAGE A POINT (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
Armadale and Forrestfield United played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in the late game at Alfred Skeet Oval. Michael Grigo put the hosts ahead early but two goals in the space of a few minutes from Jordan Hart and Andy Harold had the Division One club ahead at the break. Ross Diamond saved Armadale's blushes by equalising midway through the second period but the points leaves both teams facing an uphill battle to qualify for the knock-phase phase of the Night Series.
Tom Robinson was the architect of the games opening goal after 4 minutes, the midfielder exploding down the right before delivering a pinpoint cross that an unmarked Grigo headed in from 5-metres. Robinson almost made it two-nil when he beat goalkeeper Stuart Delgardo to the ball but his 18-metre lob was cleared off the line by a defender. For an extended period Armadale dominated possession but were unable to make it count on the scoreboard.
Forrestfield drew level on 29 minutes when Hart beat Sharrock with a firm header after a free-kick from the right has been flicked on. Sharrock was then forced to save a low long-range attempt by Andy Harold as Forrestfield sought the lead. Their reward came in the 37th minute when Lewis Costley's clever header back found Andy Harold on the edge of the 18-yard box from where the midfielder volleyed first time into the bottom corner.
The second half began in similar fashion to the first, Delgardo racing off his line to deny Robinson. Armadale continued to press and a poor Forrestfield clearance presented Grigo with a half chance but the striker sent his effort over the unattended goal. The hosts persistence paid off, however, in the 67th minute when Sharrock's booming clearance found Robinson who, after beating one man, crossed for Diamond whose diving header gave Delgardo no chance. Forrestfield then had an amazing escape with Grigo and Jason Goodwin both hitting the upright after Delgardo had done well to keep out Robinson's initial effort.
Goodwin sliced horribly wide from 10-metres after being teed up by Diamond as Armadale went in search of the winner. With seven minutes remaining Delgarno again kept his side in the game by spectacularly tipping Diamond's 23-metre pile driver over the bar. Forrestfield might have pinched victory at the death with substitute Anthony Lynons heading Andy Harold's cross wide, then John Hunter sliced high from just 19-metres after a scramble inside the box. The final whistle sounded soon after to signal a fair result.
AIS GIVE GLORY YOUTH THE RUN AROUND
An under-strength Perth Glory Youth surrendered 5-2 to the Australian Institute of Sport this afternoon at 6PR Stadium in Inglewood. The big was set up by first half goals by Yianni Perkatis, Aaron Peterson and Jesse Makarounas before Anthony Proia and Corey Brown found the back of the net after the break. Sebit Oyet and Al Jovic posted goals for the home side who had several key players on first team duty in New Zealand.
The AIS’s goal run began in the 18th minute when poor defending allowed Perkatis to chip into the net from just 6-metres. Four minutes later Peterson drifted past the defence and stepped around goalkeeper Tim Doyle before dribbling into an empty net. Glory Youth pulled a goal back on 45 minutes with Oyet capitalising on the outstanding creativity of Sahr Musa. However, any thoughts of a comeback were buried deep in stoppage time when Makarounas put away at the second opportunity after Doyle blocked his initial attempt.
The second period opened with the AIS still on the attack and peppering the Glory Youth goal. Jake Barker-Daish was unlucky not to add his name to the score sheet when he struck a cross tremendously but a superb save from Doyle denied him. Their fourth goal was never far away, though, and it came in the 68th minute courtesy of Proia who had no problem getting around the defence before firing into the back of the net. Brown completed the visitors scoring in the 87th minute, shortly before which Jovic bagged the final goal of the afternoon.
DUGDALE RETURNS WITH PRIDE
English import Paul Dugdale enjoyed his time in the Premier League a couple of years back so much that the defensive midfielder is back for a second helping. Dugdale will play this winter with Stirling Lions where he's reunited with coach Paul Lincoln, who was in charge of Swan IC when the 22-year old was last in town. "It's brilliant to be back in Perth. I'm excited at the prospect of playing for a club who will be challenging for titles every year," Dugdale said. "I will have to fight for my place in the starting line-up as there are some very good players in all positions at Macedonia Park, but I'm looking forward to the challenge ahead."
After only just arriving from England, Dugdale could make his Stirling debut as early as tomorrow against Swan in the Night Series. "I'm not sure how much action on the pitch I will see, if any, against Swan," Dugdale commented. "Players have been working hard for their places at Stirling for a few months now, but seeing old faces from Swan will be great. I'm not sure how many of the team are still left from when I was there as I know since Linc's left there have been quite a few changes. I had a great time at Swan; they are a fantastic club who really looked after me on my first visit to Perth."
Dugdale is looking forward to working once again with Lincoln. "Paul was brilliant to work for, he's one of those coaches that have been there and done it himself so instantly you have respect for his knowledge of the game and the league," said Dugdale. "Every training session is intense and you know that you are always going to be fighting for your place, which as a player knows brings out the best in you. He trusts his players and lets them play football. That gave me the confidence to maybe take a few more risks here and there, which with some coaches is not always possible."
It's been a busy few years for Dugdale, who played football in America while completing his studies. "I successfully graduated over in America and had four good years of football in the college system," he said. "We had a great team out there and meeting team mates like David Perich was the reason that I came to Perth in the first place. We all learned a lot from each other. Training everyday helps you to improve more specific aspects of your game, which has certainly helped me progress as a player."
Perich has also agreed to play for Stirling this season, something Dugdale is pleased about. "It's great to have David in the same team again. I think it helps both of us when moving to a new club to have somebody you are familiar with," said Dugdale, who only recently found out another former Swan team mate, goalkeeper Corey Hugo, was also at Stirling. "Corey was one of the players at Swan that was always lifting team spirit up and being positive, so to have him around again can only be a good thing."
Dugdale has already seen enough of his new club to rate them as championship material. "We want to win the league. Winning the Cup last season was good for the club, but to win the league would be a further progression for everyone. We want to be challenging for everything as the squad is in place and good enough to do that," he said. "From a personal perspective, my main aim would be to get a starting place and keep it for as long as possible."
Before that can happen Dugdale knows he has to prove himself, not only to the coaching staff but to his new team mates. "The squad is going to be really strong and nobody will be guaranteed a starting spot," commented the midfielder. "I know that it will be hard to work my way straight into the team. I believe in my own ability though and will go in there confident that I can compete for a place in the starting eleven. To have a good squad is vital, it's a long season and you need every single player."
TODD REVIEWS HIS OPTIONS DOWNUNDER
Andy Todd wants to return to the A-League next season but he is unlikely to rejoin Perth Glory. Disappointed at being released by Glory, the experienced central defender returns to England on Monday in the hope of securing a short-term deal during this month's transfer window but hasn't turned his back on playing in Austalia again. "I'd definitely come back and play in the A-League but it doesn't look like it would be in Perth," said Todd. "You never say never and I'd possibly come back and play for Perth under the right circumstances. When you're told you're not wanted it's difficult. It's not like I want to leave, but I have to for my career."
36-year old Todd does not figure in the plans of coach Ian Ferguson but has a handshake agreement with owner Tony Sage to remain at the club for another season. Todd said he would have liked to acknowledge the support of Glory's fans after Wednesday's loss to Central Coast Mariners. "It wasn't the farewell I wanted," he said. "I couldn't really go around and clap the fans for the support they've given me because it wasn't really official that I was leaving. But I do want to say a big thank you to the supporters and everyone at the club for making me feel welcome. Perth is a great place to live and I've really enjoyed my time." Todd played played 41 times during his two seasons with Glory.
NAGLIERI TO THE RESCUE FOR PERTH (by Tommy Doleman, Football West)
A late free-kick converted by Antonio Naglieri secured Perth SC a 3-1 victory over a determined Balcatta outfit in the twilight fixture at Percy Doyle Reserve. Naglieri's timely strike came just moments after Adam Tong conjured up a surprise equaliser to cancel out David Onoforo's first half header. "It's always good to get your first win and get back up towards the top again," Perth captain Robbie Puca said. "Everyone's looking to topple us over so it's very pleasing to get the win tonight, especially against a strong side like Balcatta."
The game could well have been by half time had Perth been more efficient in front of goal. A set-piece after just 5 minutes saw Puca curl the ball in for an unmarked Shaun Kilkelly, who headed high of the crossbar. Eight minutes later it was Craig Simpson's turn to miss a similar opportunity after the big defender got free of his marker to meet another Puca free-kick. Balcatta's first notable opening came soon after when Geneveo Human played in Daniel Niederberger whose shot was blocked by the defence after some nice footwork inside the 18-yard box.
Perth were looking more dangerous as the minutes ticked by. Onoforo was presented a great chance but was denied by a wonderful save from Lewis Italiano. However, on 26 minutes Onoforo finally found a way through by nodding in at close-range after Simpson headed Robert Sciascia's deep cross back across the face of goal. Onoforo spurned another chance moments later before Balcatta found some momentum towards the end of the half. Nicholas Tatasciore beat Simpson before cutting inside and lashing a shot narrowly high from an acute angle, and on the stroke of Human shot tamely with Devon Spence to beat.
The break gave Perth a chance to regroup and upon the resumption they quick resumed the attack, Onoforo blowing a couple of further chances to make the difference two goals. Those misses would come back to haunt Perth on 75 minutes when Tong rose unchallenged to nod in a deep set-piece against the run of play. But Balcatta's joy was short-lived as to just two minutes later Naglieri found the net with a dead ball and seal a deserved victory. The win positions Perth second in Group C with four points, level with leaders Sorrento and one point ahead of Balcatta.
SORRENTO EDGE CLOSER TO PLAY-OFFS (with Jordan McArdle, Football West)
Sorrento picked up their first win of 2011 and moved a step closer to the Night Series knock-out phase by coming from behind to defeat Division One side Wanneroo City 3-1 this evening at Percy Doyle Reserve. Wanneroo took the lead through Sahar Konomanyi midway through the second period, however, within two minutes Todd Harnwell had equaliser. The game looked to be heading for a draw when Kris Dennis then Brodie Martin found the net in the final five minutes to rescue the Gulls.
Sorrento enjoyed the better of first half possession but, like last week against Perth SC, the host club were unable to convert chances into goals. Wanneroo looked dangerous when breaking on the counter and in the 28th minute Konomanyi went agonisingly close to giving them a surprise lead when his shot was well saved by goalkeeper Curtis Aspden. Despite some debatable challenges, referee Mat Cheeseman kept his cards well hidden until booking Craig Bowman for a rough tackle in the 34th minute.
The football was a lot more free-flowing after the interval with the deadlock broke after 66 minutes by Konomanyi's crisp strike on the run. Sorrento's reply was almost instantaneous, Todd Harnwell netting a deflection off 'keeper Daryl Vaz to square things up. Needing to score again to keep alive their play-off hopes, Gulls substitute Kris Dennis answered the call by putting them ahead in the 85th minute. The game was made safe four minutes later when midfielder Brodie Martin added his name to the scorers and round out the 3-1 scoreline.
THINGS GET INTERESTING IN THE NIGHT SERIES
The second round of the 2011 Night Series is given a crackerjack start with traditional rivals Perth SC and Balcatta going head-to-head tonight at Percy Doyle Reserve (6.30pm). Anything less than a win to Perth could derail their hopes of achieving six straight Night Series’ titles, however, Balcatta are full of confidence after hitting six goals last time out. The game will be won and lost in midfield where Antonio Naglieri and Dom De Felice match skills with Daniel Micevski and Jason Barrera.
The late game at Percy Doyle Reserve has host club Sorrento up against Wanneroo City (8.30pm). The Gulls need to win to keep their quarter-finals hopes alive and will look to Todd Harnwell in the final third with goalkeeper Curtis Aspden and Daryl Platten vital at the back. The Roos want to put last week shellacking behind them quickly and to do that Guy McDonald, Craig Bowman and Simon Woodward need to be firing on all cylinders from the get-go.
On Saturday we’re off to Alfred Skeet Oval where victory for either Floreat Athena or Inglewood United (5.30pm) will book them a spot in the knock-out phase. Liam Boland grabbed the headlines with two goals on debut last week but there were also strong contributions from James Isaia and teenager Jack Allen. The game provides Inglewood’s front two of Rory Grant and Ndumba Makeche another opportunity to become better acquainted as Ryan Clarke, who scored twice last time out, provides the ammunition from midfield.
Eastern corridor rivals Armadale and Forrestfield United (7.30pm) provide the entertainment in the late fixture at Alfred Skeet Oval. Armadale captain Steve McDonald along with goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock and summer recruit Tom Kennedy have vital roles to play as the Reds attempt to register their first points of the tournament. Andy Harold found the back of the net last time out for Forrestfield when there were strong first up showings by Jacob Fleischmann and new goalkeeper Stuart Delgarno.
Macedonia Park is the venue for Bayswater City verses ECU Joondalup (5.00pm) on Sunday. Josh Tumoe and Cisco Jorqueira scored in Bayswater’s win over Swan last weekend when Gianni Papalia made a strong claim for the gloves. This is a must-win game for Joondalup, who are coming off a draw with Stirling Lions. Neil Chappell scored off the bench on that occasion and is pushing for a start as youngsters Jake Benson-Cooper and Shane Doyle continue to impress.
Stirling Lions have home ground advantage in the second game that brings them up against Swan United (7.00pm). English imports Bobby Wilson and Paul Dugdale are champing at the bit to come into Stirling’s first eleven with custodian Cory Hugo facing the club he kept goal for for over a decade. Scott Paterson, Scott Campbell and Mark Donnelly all come into contention for a new-look Swan whose goalkeeper Daniel Agudelo is certain to feel the pressure during his next 90 minutes on the park.
The other Sunday fixtures take place at Hyundai Stadium, the opener featuring Bunbury Forum Force and Western Knights (5.00pm). Bunbury goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery was outstanding last week and is set for another busy night, while for young attacker Jayden Prosser it’s another opportunity to test himself against top flight opposition. Carl Medica watched his team concede a late equaliser to Cockurn City in their last outings and the Knights coach won’t accept any such sloppiness this time out.
The final game of round two pits Mandurah City against Cockburn City (7.00pm). A loss by either side could end their campaign so both will be going all out to score. Jordan Rhodes and Jeff Bright provide the drive going forward for Mandurah with Ryan Townsend the key ingredient in defence. Cockburn will be sweating on the fitness of Shane Nunes, who limped out injured last week, but Johnny Mirco and Rory Feely in good touch the Cockerels have reason to fancy their chances.
FINALS WITHIN REACH FOR GLORY WOMEN
Perth Glory Women coach John Gibson says his troops are ready for the challenge that awaits them on Sunday afternoon when they host fellow finals candidate Melbourne Victory. Sam Kerr's first half brace last week earned the Glory girls a 2-1 win at Adelaide United, whereas Melbourne carved out a scoreless draw with top of the table Brisbane Roar. A win for either team will take them a step closer to extending their season with a W-League finals appearance.
Gibson took plenty of positives from his teams' performance in Adelaide. "Yeah pretty happy with the performance against Adelaide, particularly with the response from the previous week," he said. "The game was pretty much under control and us being slack allowed them to score their goal. We're just going to go out on Sunday and do what we do every week - we've trusted that all year and we're not going to change that philosophy."
The last time Glory Women faced Melbourne the game was decided by a solitary strike, that from then Glory Women newcomer Monnique Kofoed. "They're a really good side actually, really well organised, well-disciplined and they play to their strengths," Gibson of this weekend's opponent. "In every game we go into we come in with a certain amount of quiet confidence and this will be no different." Glory Women and Melbourne square off from 5.00pm on Sunday afternoon at 6PR Stadium in Inglewood.
LOYALTY KEEPS WILSON WITH STIRLING
Bobby Wilson has resisted the overtures of a number of clubs by resigning with Stirling Lions for 2011. One of his clubs’ standout players last season, the big defender is looking forward to Stirling once again challenging for league honours and defend their State League Cup title. “I have signed again for the Lions this year and I’m really looking forward to the season ahead. We had a great year in 2010 and I’ve made a lot of friends at the club, so and I’m looking forward to trying to better last year,” said Wilson.
A former Notts County youth player, Wilson was taken aback by the number of clubs that sounded him out over the summer. “I was flattered by the amount of clubs calling me and offering me different things to try and pull me away from the Lions,” said the 22-year old. “But after long talks with my dad and Lions president Don Evans, I think it’s in my best interest to stay at Stirling. Now I can just concentrate on getting sharp and fit ready for the first day of the season.”
Stirling coach Paul Lincoln is delighted to have Wilson on board for the coming season. “The resigning of Bobby is so important for the club if we are to make a tilt for the title because he is a class player,” commented Lincoln. “He was terrific last season and was instrumental in our success, his ability to score on set pieces is priceless. I expect a massive season from him and hopefully this can lead to a contract in the A-League.”
The opportunity to play at the next level in Australia will drive Wilson on to further improve his game this winter. “I was delighted last year to be selected by Peter Murphy, the State team coach, and I really enjoyed playing against Perth Glory and testing myself against the best players in the state,” he commented. “I would love to play that next level. That’s my aim, to break through into the A-League stage, but I have to perform for the Lions and whatever happens, happens.”
BOLAND MAKING THE MOST OF HIS OPPORTUNITIES
Floreat Athena’s two goal hero Liam Boland is looking forward to establishing in the first team and erasing the memory of a disappointing 2010. Boland, whose double secured Floreat victory over Armadale in last weekend’s Night Series round, struggled to hold onto his place in the Swan United first eleven last season. But under the watchful eyes of coaches Ante Kovacevic and Taki Nicolaidis he plans to take his performances up a notch. “AK and Taki have been great, they have given me a huge opportunity this year to show what I have to offer and I will do everything I can to repay their faith in me,” Boland said.
Scoring twice on debut for Floreat gave Boland a dream start with the club. “Floreat has been great so far. I’m really enjoying my football at the moment and I’m really excited for the rest of Night Series and the start of the season,” he said. “I was really happy to get off the mark on Sunday. In the first half I was probably thinking about scoring too much, but after half time I had calmed down a bit and managed to score twice which was great for me and the team. It was a good comeback from the lads; we showed a lot of character for a team that hadn’t played together before.”
Although on the outer at Swan for much of last season, Boland still managed to put away enough goals to finish as the clubs highest scorer. “Last year was a pretty frustrating year for me but I still managed to score nine goals in the league,” commented Boland, who last winter moved to Swan following a stint at Stirling Lions. “Swan gave me a great opportunity to start playing in the Premier league and I couldn’t pass it up. I enjoyed my time at the club even though I wish I could have played a little more.”
Assistant coach Taki Nicolaidis is confident Boland, who represented Australia at Schoolboys level in 2009, will be a big hit at Floreat. “Liam was our first signing and his style reminds me so much of my former team mate John Hunter,” said Taki Nicolaidis. “I’m sure if he continues to work hard at his game and keeps learning his role as a striker he will have a long and successful career, not just at State League level but even higher. I guess that’s up to AK and myself to help him get there.”
Boland could not have wished for a better start to his Floreat career and will no doubt want to add a few more goals to his pre-season tally against Inglewood United on Saturday. As for the season proper, Boland has every intention of putting the ball in the back of the net a habit. “I am looking to make the top five with Floreat and to improve my game,” the young attacker striker. “I don’t want to put a number on how many goals I want to score this year but I would like to be up around with the top goal scorers in the league.”
JAMIE IS STREETS AHEAD
Stirling Lions teenager Jamie Street has gained selection in the Australia Schoolboys squad for the upcoming tour of China and Japan. The 17-year old central defender flew to Sydney on the weekend to join his Australia team mates only hours after making his first team starting debut in Stirling’s opening round Night Series draw with ECU Joondalup. “It’s a great privilege to represent my county,” said Street, who has attracted attention from English clubs at Nottingham Forest, Stockport County and Preston North End.
Street, captain of the State team at last year’s National Championships, has put in a solid pre-season with Stirling and will be pushing for a first team spot when he returns from international duty. “I made my first team debut against Joondalup and hope to be pushing a regular spot this season, or at least make a couple more appearances,” commented the young defender. “Football is what I love so I want to play at the highest level I can, hopefully professionally, and coach once my football career is over, like my dad did with me.”
TODD GRANTED EARLY RELEASE
Perth Glory have released veteran defender Andy Todd from the final two months of his contract to allow the star defender to ink a new deal before the January transfer window closes. Last season's Most Glorious Player was limited to 15 appearances this term due to injury but the 36-year old is keen to continue playing football. "I still believe I can play and I'm hopeful of doing that back home in England," said Todd.
Glory deputy chairman Lui Giuliani said the long break between A-League seasons meant the club could not guarantee Todd a new contract. "Unfortunately because of the possible eight month lay-off we are not ready to finalise our squad," Giuliani said. "Andy is a club champion, a first class professional and we understand his desire to find a new club while the transfer window is still open. We wish Andy all the very best and haven't ruled out the possibility of offering him a new deal in later in the year."
MARINERS CLING TO VICTORY
Perth Glory had two players sent off as Central Coast Mariners snared a 2-1 win over a nine-man Perth Glory to keep their title challenge alive following this evening’s game at Perth Oval. Daniel McBreen and Matt Simon scored within minutes of each other midway through the first half shortly before Glory went down to ten with the dismissal of Jamie Harnwell. Todd Howarth reduced the deficit just prior to the break and although Glory created the better of second half chances it wasn’t to be their day, and close to full-time Adrian Pellegrino received his marching orders. The result consolidates second for the Mariners while Glory remains second from bottom with any hopes of the finals now long gone.
The teams tested each other out in a cagey opening quarter after which the visitors slammed in a couple of quick fire goals to seize control. Their first arrived on 22 minutes when Brian McGlinchey’s corner was headed goalward by local product Trent Sainsbury with McBreen reacting with a close-range header that beat Tando Velaphi. Sixty seconds later Sainsbury swept a low ball across the face of goal which the on-rushing Simon side-footed in to make it two-nil. The Mariners were presented with a golden opportunity to add another but Velaphi brilliantly kept out Simon’s spot kick after Andy Todd up-ended McBreen.
The drama was far from over as just before the half hour Jamie Harnwell elbowed Simon in the face while tussling for possession, leading referee Jarred Gillett to flash the Glory veteran a straight red card. Glory’s cause looked all but lost but seven minutes before the break Scott Neville delivered a pinpoint cross which Mile Sterjovski flicked on and Howarth, who had timed his run to perfection, rifled in his second goal in as many games. Clearly buoyed, the home side then went close to restoring parity in stoppage time, Neville teeing up Stejovski who goalbound effort was prevented from entering the net by Rostyn Griffiths’ desperate lunge.
It took until the 57th minute of the second half for either goal to be put under serious threat, Velaphi parrying an initial shot from McGlinchey and then staying alert to claim the follow up header by McBreen. Glory responded in kind with Tommy Amphlett’s fierce angled strike deflected past the post by Chris Doig with goalkeeper Matthew Ryan otherwise beaten. Ten minutes later Amphlett again went close to grabbing an equaliser, the midfielder firing narrowly wide from the top of the 18-yard box. Glory continued to force the visitors onto the back foot and on 83 minutes Neville unleashed a 20-metre rocket that fizzled just over Ryan’s crossbar.
Victor Sikora and Adam Taggart came off the bench as the home team attempted to salvage a point from the evening. The two substitutes looked lively as the Mariners struggled to hold onto their lead. Taggart had a chance to put his name up in lights with three minutes remaining but steered a half-chance straight at Ryan. The final act of a dramatic encounter saw Taggart get a shot away on the turn but again Ryan was equal to it, producing a scrambling save to his right. Pellegrino joined Harnwell in the change rooms after picking up a second yellow card for a foul on Michael Baird.
AUSTRALIA SECURE TOP SPOT
Mile Jedinak’s second goal in as many games secured Australia a 1-0 win over Bahrain and a spot in the last eight at the Asian Cup in Qatar. It was hardly a convincing victory for the Socceroos, who finished top of Group C on goal difference ahead of South Korea. “It didn’t go according to the plan that we wanted it to but as people will always tell you when they watch all the good teams in tournaments, they don’t play well and they win, and they don’t get going until the latter stages,” captain Lucas Neill said. “If we’ve still got that to come then we’ll be delighted. But at the same time we’re not going to kid ourselves, performances like that in the latter stages won’t be accepted.”
The Socceroos started off well with Brett Emerton and Tim Cahill having early chances on goal but it was Bahrain that almost went ahead through Ismael Abdullatif, who clipped the woodwork from a narrow angle. Australia broke immediately on the counter attack, Brett Holman playing through Harry Kewell but goalkeeper Mahmood Mansoor stormed off his line to deny the striker. The breakthrough came in the 37th minute, Jedinak’s powerful drive from the edge of the 18-yard box skidding off the turf and into the back off the net. Jedinak almost repeated the dose two minutes later, this time launching another fierce drive from a free-kick that forced Mansoor into a smart save.
Abdullatif almost gave Bahrain the perfect start to the second half when he forced Mark Schwarzer into a lunging stop. Cahill wasted a golden opportunity to make it two-nil by uncharacteristically skewed his header wide after being played in by Kewell. Jaycee John then created space but drove wide of the post before Schwarzer came to the rescue by palming away a well-struck Abdulla Fatadi shot on the run. In the 66th minute Abdulfatadi got clear on the left with Schwarzer diving to save with his feet. For the most part Australia was restricted in the second half to shooting from distance, the best of which came from Carl Valeri and Jedinak.
BIRIGHITTI PROVES VALUE TO ADELAIDE
Mark Birighitti has acquitted himself very well as Adelaide United's last line of defence in the past few weeks. Birighitti, 19, may have only three A-League appearances to his name but coach Rini Coolen had no qualms handing him the gloves when first choice goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic was given time off with a wrist injury. "It was a good experience playing against three really good teams," Birighitti said of his outings with Sydney FC, Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory. "It has been over two years since I played my last senior game, and to come in and play three big games, winning two of them and only conceding two goals was a pretty good effort."
Determined to make the most of his opportunities, the former Perth SC custodian kept a clean sheet when he lined up against Sydney in late December. "In the first game I was nervous but when I got that first touch of the ball it set me up for the rest of the game," Birighitti said of his first senior game in 27 months. "When you go into big games like that you're always going to be a little bit nervous and in the second half I spilt the ball but managed to grab it on the second attempt. I think that just comes down to rustiness and not having played a senior game for a long time."
A narrow 1-0 loss to Brisbane followed before a trip to Melbourne, where Birighitti had to deal with a laser being pointed into his eyes from somewhere in the stands. "I had a green laser shining in my eye and that was tough to deal with. I spoke to the referee at half time and told them the situation," Birighitti said. "I had to deal with that and some abuse from the crowd behind me, but that's football, you get that and I was just happy we got the three points."
Birighitti knew it was only going to be a three game stint before Galekovic returned, and while no player wants to relinquish their spot the Australian youth international is more than content to make way for the reigning A-League Goalkeeper of the Year to resume. "Before the three games Rini told me Eugene was coming back after the three games and now I'll just step aside and keep working hard," he said. "At least Rini has faith in knowing that if something happens to Eugene he can rely on me to come in."
BAIRD AXING PERFORMANCE RELATED: FERGUSON
Perth Glory has refuted claims by former player Michael Baird that he was released for financial reasons. Baird, who scored one goal in thirteen appearances for Glory this season, said he was axed last month to ease the club's salary cap struggles and that more players - including former captain Jamie Coyne - could also face the chop. But according to coach Ian Ferguson, Baird was told in October that he was not part of the club's long-term plans and the striker's exit was performance related.
Baird, who returns to Perth tomorrow as part of the Central Coast Mariners squad, claimed salary cap issues were behind his move. "I had a clause in my contract to play one more game (to get another year) and they don't have much money left next year, so they just said to me you can either take the clause out of your contract and play or you can do what you want and not play," Baird said. "So it was all finances and it was going to work out better for them to get rid of me."
Ferguson today made it clear Baird had known for some time that he would not be retained beyond the current season. "I said to Michael when I first took over (in October last year) he wasn't in my plans and I wanted to move on and I wanted to go in another direction," Ferguson said. "And he agreed on that. He agreed basically he had some other irons in the fire and we let him move on. I'm quite surprised at that (claim)."
There's growing speculation Coyne, who was omitted from the weekend game with Melbourne Heart and will miss tomorrow's clash with the Mariners, is also about to leave the club. Ferguson, however, refuses to be drawn on the matter. "I'm not going to discuss contracts," said the coach. "The thing with Jamie is there's obviously something building at the moment. And it's purely quite simple. I pick the team. I pick the personnel that play and at this moment in time Jamie's not in the team." Coyne is one of the club's longest serving players with 152 appearances to his credit since debuting in 2002.
HERD PENS NEW THREE-YEAR VILLA DEAL
Young midfielder Chris Herd has capped off a memorable week by signing a new contract that will keep him at Aston Villa until June 2014. Herd, 21, pens the deal just days after scoring a hat-trick in Villa Reserves’ incredible 10-1 win over Arsenal. “I am really happy,” Herd said. “I am just pleased to be here and pleased that I am going to be here for the next three and a half years. When I got offered the contract it wasn’t a difficult decision to make at all. A few of the other boys have done really well and have all signed contracts so it is nice to follow in their footsteps. All the boys stick together and are good mates on and off the pitch. We have all come through from the academy and it is nice when everyone is doing well together.”
Herd joins Marc Albrighton, Barry Bannan, Ciaran Clark, Jonathan Hogg and Gary Gardner as graduates of Villa’s academy to put pen to paper on a senior contract. “I am just going to try and get my head down and work hard in training and get into the team. When you get that taste you want more - so hopefully I can get it. It just spurs you on,” said Herd, who is grateful for the role academy staff have played in his development. “I came over when I was 15-years old. Since then they have been looking after me brilliantly, so I have got to say thanks for that as well. My game has come on loads since I first came over … obviously Tony McAndrew and Kevin MacDonald have been a big help in my career, they have been great to me.”
A GOAL ON DEBUT FOR HAROLD
Perth-born striker Chris Harold celebrated his A-League starting debut by scoring his first goal in Gold Coast United's 4-0 weekend hiding of North Queensland Fury. Harold, 18, put the icing on the cake with a confident 83rd minute finish, converting Chris Broadfoot's slide rule pass to join Bruce Djite (2) and Shane Smeltz on the scoresheet. Although born in Perth, Harold spent much of his childhood in Singapore and Malaysia before relocating to Brisbane, where he's come on in leaps and bounds over the past few seasons with the Gold Coast youth team.
SPECULATION OVER COYNE’S FUTURE
Jamie Coyne's surprise omission from the Perth Glory side that drew with Melbourne Heart on Saturday has cast doubt on his future with the club. Coyne, 30, had missed only one game this season - that due to suspension - before being dropped on the weekend, but his days with his hometown club now appear to be numbered. Former club captain Coyne is one of Glory's longest servants having made 152 appearances since being in the National Soccer League in 2002.
Coach Ian Ferguson has already started planning for next season but played down the significance of Coyne's absence, claiming he wanted to try something different by starting Josh Mitchell on the left side of defence. "I wanted to try Josh Mitchell out there and just see how he went, and I felt it went reasonably well," Ferguson said. In the past month Glory have allowed Aleks Vrteski, Andrija Jukic and Michael Baird to leave the club, and signed goalkeeper Danny Vukovic (Wellington Phoenix) and defender Evan Berger (Melbourne Victory) for their 2011/12 campaign.
STUBBORN FORRESTFIELD BUCKLE TO INGLEWOOD
Inglewood United got their pre-season campaign under way with a gritty 3-1 defeat of Division One side Forrestfield United in tonight's twilight game at Alfred Skeet Oval. Ryan Clarke scored twice to put Inglewood in control before Andy Harold pegged a goal back just before the interval. John Hunter should have brought the sides level but sprayed his penalty kick wide with Ndumba Makeche putting away Inglewood's third soon after.
Clarke was instrumental as Inglewood came out firing on all cylinders and threw their opponents onto the back foot. It took only 3 minutes for Makeche to bring a low save out of goalkeeper Stuart Delgardo after meeting a cross from Clarke, who soon after played to the far post where Rory Grant's header was hacked away by Martin Barnes. This pressure was rewarded by a 19th minute lead, Michael Baczynski playing clear Makeche who pulled the ball back for Clarke to fire past a stranded 'keeper from 15-metres.
Forrestfield wanted a quick response but Taseski held successive strikes by Jacob Fleischmann and Warren Grieves. As the game opened up Hunter flashed a blistering first time strike high after which Baczynski flicked the crossbar with a spectacular long-range effort. Inglewood's lead was doubled in the 38th minute when Clarke cut past Fleischmann and netted from 9-metres after being played in by Grant. Two minutes later Andy Harold's shot from the top of the 18-yard box deflected off a defender to wrong-foot Taseski and make it two-one.
The action continued soon after the re-start with Makeche heading over and Taseski smothering bravely at the feet of Lewis Costley inside ten minutes. Forrestfield should have been level in the 58th minute but Hunter fired horribly wide from the spot after a handball decision against defender David McNally. Having been let off the hook, Inglewood resumed the attack with Makeche and Jason Colli going close. The result was made safe in the 65th minute when Colli sped down the right and centred for Makeche, who made no mistake from 7-metres.
Inglewood coach Shane Pryce said he was pleased to get the win but not with his teams' performance. "I was really disappointed with our attitude tonight. They were up for the game but we weren't, and we had to battle hard to overcome them in the end," Pryce said. "I was pleased with some of new signings who showed a bit tonight, but we will have to better than that next week. It will be a tough test but it will show us were we are at."
BOLAND OPENS FLOREAT ACCOUNT
Two goals on debut by Liam Boland has earned Floreat Athena a 3-1 come-from-behind win over Armadale under lights at Alfred Skeet Oval. Signed over the summer from relegated Swan United, Boland scored twice in the opening minutes of the second half to inspire his team and cancel out Steve McDonald's first half opener. James Isaia sealed victory over his formed club by putting away Floreat's second midway through the second stanza.
A positive start from Floreat saw Isaia slam first time past Cyril Sharrock in the 11th minute only for the midfielder's shot to crash into the crossbar. Armadale went close themselves nine minutes later after good work on the left by Michael Grigo ended with him crossing for Tom Kennedy, whose 15-metre shot flashed wide. Ross Diamond headed past the post on the half hour after being the recipient of a pin-point cross by Kennedy.
Floreat were just as keen to take the lead and Garin Collins would rue placing wide from 7-metres after being found by Jarrad Smith's ball in from the right. That miss was punished in stoppage time when the host club edged in front against the run of play. Grigo found enough space on the right to whip in a cross which was met at the back post by McDonald with the towering defender heading past Taseski from 5-metres.
Whatever Ante Kovacevic said to his troops at the break worked a treat as Floreat quickly turned the game on its head. In the 47th minute Boland headed in a Smith cross from the left to bring the teams level, much to the delight of the travelling supporters. Six minutes later Isaia's superb through ball released Michael Van Dongen, and although he was foiled by Sharrock there was no stopping Boland as he tucked into the net.
The young Armadale side continued the fight with Grigo's free kick from distance just high on the hour. The result was put beyond doubt five minutes later when Isaia drove forward to unleash a shot that crept under the body of Sharrock. Although two-goals down, there was no chance Armadale were about to surrender but Jack Allen cleared off the line a volley from McDonald, who put the follow up high.
As the game entered its closing stages both sides created chances to add to their tallies. Smith's cross from the left picked out Daniel Trevisiol but the Floreat substitute could only watch as his shot came back off the post. With three minutes of regulation time left Simon Madaschi ensured the visitors would finish two-goals the better by diving full-stretch to keep out Marlon Ramirez's goal bound effort.
Post-game, Floreat assistant coach Taki Nicolaidis had few complaints. "We had a lot of possession in the first half and we were disappointed to go into half time 1-0 down. We had chances that we didn't finish off. But credit to the guy's, that all changed after the break with two quick goals," he said. "Liam Boland led the line well for us tonight and he will be important for us this season. It's only early in the season but it's a good win tonight."
ROSINDALE STARS IN BALCATTA ROUTE (with Michael Barr, Football West)
Balcatta got their Night Series campaign off to a flying start by demolishing Wanneroo City 6-2 in this evening's twilight game at Percy Doyle Reserve. Ashley Rosindale helped himself to a hat-trick as the Cats took full advantage of sloppy defending by tallying up five goals in the first half hour. Jason Barrera and Daniel Neiderberger also found the net during the first half with substitute Emmanuel Riviere completing the route on 65 minutes.
The avalanche of goals began in the 3rd minute after Chris Pugh's poor touch allowed Niederberger to lob the bal into the 18-yard box where Rosindale slid it past goalkeeper Daryl Vas with his second touch. The crowd didn't have too wait long for the second goal as Rosindale surged goalward after gathering an attempted clearance before tucking neatly into the bottom corner with 8 minutes played. Wanneroo responded with a rare attack in which Guy McDonald called Bobson Koroma into the action. On the quarter hour Barrera unleashed a stunning shot from 22-metres to extend Balcatta's lead to three goals.
Wanneroo's misery continued five minutes later when Rosindale completed his hat-trick by getting his toe on a dangerous ball played into the 6-yard box. Any hope Wanneroo had of getting back in the game was ended in the 27th minute, Rosindale turning his man on the edge of the area to slid the ball through for Niederberger who applied a clinical finish for Balcatta's fifth. Lady luck smiled on Wanneroo just before the break when a seemingly harmless ball across the face of goal deflected off defender Adam Tong and into the net.
A thrilling start to the second stanza presented chances on goal for each team. Riviere made the most of his in the 65th minute by touching a Nick Tatasciore pass across goal and inside the far bottom corner. Wanneroo were gifted a second goal in the 82nd minute when Simon Woodward pounced on a sloppy back pass and beat Bobson Koroma in a one-on-one situation. Amazingly Balcatta made an identical error three minutes later but on that occasion substitute Michael Hodgkins' lob over Koroma landed wide of the target. The result provides Balcatta the best possible start to the tournament, whereas it delivers a crushing blow to Wanneroo's hopes of venturing beyond the group phase.
STALEMATE AT PERCY DOYLE RESERVE (by Michael Barr, Football West)
Night Series trophy holders Perth SC and Sorrento played out a dour 0-0 draw in this evening's late fixture at Percy Doyle Reserve. Staunch defending from both teams ensured there would be very few chances for either to break through with the lack of goals a fair reflection on the game. The teams prodded and probed cautiously throughout the opening stages without ever really threatening. The first genuine shot on goal didn't arrive until Jared Love weaved between a couple of defenders on the right to hit a swerving shot that was into the hands of goalkeeper Devon Spence.
Perth had appeals for a penalty turned down in the 33rd minute after David Onoforo collided with goalkeeper Curtis Aspden while chasing a long ball into the 18-yard box. Sorrento found themselves heading towards goal in the 38th minute when a perfect ball by Brodie Martin resulted in a scramble for possession before the referee relieved the pressure by awarding Perth a free kick. The remaining minutes of the half lacked any moments of significance and the teams returned to the rooms locked up at nil-all.
At the end of a hot day, Sorrento dropped off the pace for the second half as Perth increased their control over the middle of the park. The Blues resurgence almost produced a 53rd minute reward when Andreas Oliveira found space on the edge of the area but blasted over the crossbar. Eight minutes later Adam Bachiller's piercing run ended with a terrific cross onto the head of Onoforo, who was thwarted by Aspden's superb reflex save. Aspden was called upon again three minutes later when the 'keeper moved sharply to his right to keep put Onoforo's first time shot. The two sides traded long ball blows for the rest of the half without much success. A thrilling start to the second stanza presented chances on goal for each team. Riviere made the most of his in the 65th minute by touching a Nick Tatasciore pass across goal and inside the far bottom corner. Wanneroo were gifted a second goal in the 82nd minute when Simon Woodward pounced on a sloppy back pass and beat Bobson Koroma in a one-on-one situation. Amazingly Balcatta made an identical error three minutes later but on that occasion substitute Michael Hodgkins' lob over Koroma landed wide of the target. The result provides Balcatta the best possible start to the tournament, whereas it delivers a crushing blow to Wanneroo's hopes of venturing beyond the group phase.
MIRCO HELPS HIMSELF TO A HAPPY HOMECOMING (with Jordan McArdle, Football West)
Johny Mirco scored at either end of the 90 minutes to salvage Cockburn City a 2-2 draw with Western Knights at Hyundai Stadium. Mirco, playing for the Cockerels for the first time since returning from a spell with Floreat Athena, found the net early but veteran Dale Wingell made it one each with less than five minutes on the clock. The Knights looked set to record a deserved win through Callum Roberts second half finish when Mirco popped up seven minutes from the end to salvage his team a point.
It was a disappointing result for the Knights who dominated the game from start to finish and had a far greater number of chances to score. A minute had even registered on the clock when Mirco caught the Knights defence napping to put Cockburn a goal the better. Wingell, who moved to the Knights during the off-season, celebrated his debut for the club by restoring parity two minutes later. Cormac Dawson was within inches of putting the Knights ahead late with a cracking shot from 16-metres that struck the upright. A late offside ruling denied Rory Feely a chance to put his side up in the closing minutes of the half.
Roberts gave the Knights a dream start to the second stanza with a sensational 52nd minute strike that put his team in the ascendency. Cockburn's lacklustre defence presented a number of openings for the Knights, who were unable to capitalise. Roberts was causing no end of problems for Cockburn and went agonisingly close to scoring his second, the ball whizzed just past Dejan Aleskic's post. Mirco applied a quality finish in the 83rd minute to level up the game at two-all and set up a tense finish in which either team could have stolen victory.
BUNBURY HOLD MANDURAH (with Jordan McArdle, Football West)
Mandurah City were forced to come from behind to earn a 1-1 draw with Division One outfit Bunbury Forum Force in the Group A Night Series clash at Hyundai Stadium. Jayden Prosser put the visitors ahead early in the second half with Alan Darlington grabbing the equaliser, but it was Bunbury's 20-year old goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery who starred with a series of saves that thwarted the Mandurah attack. "Ryan played exceptionally well and kept us in the game," said Bunbury coach Nigel Wilcox. "He has been playing first team football for us for a couple of years now and has really stood up."
In his first game in charge of Bunbury, Wilcox was impressed with his youthful side against a far more experienced Mandurah outfit. Much of the first half possession was held by the hosts, however, they had to be content with a nil-all half-time scoreline after being unable to get the ball past Montgomery. Andy Brown had their best chance early on but the Bunbury 'keeper thrust out a glove to tip away the header. It was a similar story after the turnaround when Tom Straker's fine strike rose just high of the crossbar.
Bunbury always looked dangerous on the counter attack and on 52 minutes that approach paid dividends with Prosser the scorer of a magnificent goal on the run. Ivan Zuvela thought he'd brought the sides level only for Montgomery to once again came to Bunbury's rescue, while at the other end Prosser went agonisingly close to doubling his teams advantage. Summer signing Darlington kept Mandurah in the hunt by finding the net after 70 minute, and although both teams created further chances there would be no further addition to the 1-1 scoreline.
GLORY YOUTH WORK HARD FOR VICTORY
Perth Glory Youth picked up their first win in a month by seeing off Melbourne Victory 2-1 on a hot afternoon at 6PR Stadium. Sebit Oyet fired the home team into an early lead with Adam Taggart doubling the advantage in the second half before Damir Lokvancic pulled a goal back for Victory. The home side were given a dream start by Oyet, who netted in just the 3rd minute. Solid defensive work at both ends of the park kept genuine shots on goal to a minimum throughout the remainder of the half. The best of these came the way of the visitors who hit the crossbar and brought a couple of impressive saves out of the Glory goalkeeper.
The second half had been under way two minutes when Taggart took advantage of a defensive lapse and scored into an open net to make it two-nil. Ten minutes later Lokancic reeled in the gap after being found by a Luke O’Dea pass. Oyet toiled away in search of his second goal and it looked to have arrived when he danced around three opponents but the striker lifted his shot into the bar. The pace quickened considerably as the game entered stoppage time and Cameron Edwards steered the ball into the side netting. The result keeps Glory Youth in seventh place, three points outside the top four with six games to play.
LOWRY BOOSTS BLADES' DEFENSIVE OPTIONS
Sheffield United has snapped up Aston Villa defender Shane Lowry on loan for the remainder of the season. Lowry, 21, attracted interest from Derby County earlier in in the campaign and was courted by a string of clubs following the opening of the January transfer window before agreeing to join the Blades. "He is young, enthusiastic, fits the profile we are looking for and I have watched him recently in Villa's reserves," said new Blades boss Micky Adams. "He had a good loan spell at Leeds United last season so coming to a club like ours won't faze him." Lowry spent time on loan at Leeds and Plymouth Argyle last term and could make his Sheffield debut in today's game at Coventry City.
GLORY HEARTS BROKEN ON NIGHT OF CONTROVERSY
Alex Terra grabbed Melbourne Heart a share of the spoils in a controversial 1-1 draw with Perth Glory at Perth Oval. Todd Howarth’s first goal of the campaign put the home team one-nil up after 34 minutes, and it looked as though they had a second just after the hour when Jamie Harnwell flicked the ball over the line. However, referee Gerard Parsons waved for play to continue and eight minutes later Terra salvaged his side a valuable point. The loss effectively ends Glory’s slim hopes of participating in this season’s finals series.
The first chance of a tentative opening didn’t eventuate until 13 minutes when Harnwell headed narrowly wide from a Mile Sterjovski corner. The visitors threatened themselves two minutes later with Rutger Worm finding Nick Kalmar whose curling shot from the edge of the 18-yard box was superbly saved by Velaphi at full stretch. The game now started to open up as both teams went looking for the go-ahead goal. Howarth’s low shot from 10-metres was blocked by Clint Bolton, then Josip Skoko flash just high from a similar distance.
34 minutes had elapsed when Tommy Amphlett surged down the right and played a one-two with Robbie Fowler, the young midfielder following on by cleverly chesting the ball down for Howarth to drill past Bolton from 7-metres. The visiting team suffered a blow soon after with Worm forced out of the game by a injury, his place taken by Terra. Glory could have gone into the break with a greater lead but Josh Mitchell’s header was held down low by Bolton, then on the stroke of half-time Fowler headed narrowly wide from another Sterjovski set-piece.
Adriano Pellegrino flashed a long-range shot just wide only minutes into the second half as Glory sounded their intention. Then on 63 minutes Sterjovski’s cross was met by Scott Neville, with Harnwell flicking it over the line before Wayne Srhoj scrambled it out. Although television replays showed the ball had clearly crossed the line, Parsons waved away Glory’s appeals to grant the goal. The decision left the home side rattled and seven minutes later Terra’s acrobatic overhead flew into the top corner after Sibon headed Srhoj’s cross back across goal.
Heart went close to grabbing a late winner on several occasions. A powerful John Aloisi header on 82 minutes was brilliantly pushed away by Tando Velaphi, and from the resulting corner Howard Fondyke was called on to clear off the line from substitute Gerald Sebon. Velaphi was tested again minutes later by another goal bound Aloisi header, then down the other end Neville’s long-range attempt was saved low by Bolton. In stoppage-time Bolton bravely saved at the feet of Neville, who later skipped around three defenders but was forced into dragging wide after the ‘keeper narrowed his angle.
KERR AT THE DOUBLE
A superb brace by Sam Kerr has enabled Perth Glory Women to defeat Adelaide United 2-1 this afternoon at Hindmarsh Stadium. Kerr’s first-half double were enough to see off a late challenge by the home side after Katrina Gorry had given them a glimmer of hope with less than twenty minutes left. Despite numerous chances to complete her hat-trick, Kerr was left frustrated as goalkeeper Kristi Harvey pulled off a string of saves.
Collette McCallum had the first real chance of the match but shot wide of Harvey’s post. However, it didn’t take long for the visitors to take the lead with Kerr controlling a delightful pass from McCallum before finishing into the bottom corner. McCallum blasted a free kick just off-target, Elisa D’Ovidio was thwarted by Christina Papageorgiou’s last gasp tackle and Carys Hawkins’ long-range landed on the top netting as Glory Women went looking for a second goal. It finally arrived in the 41st minute, another incisive pass from McCallum allowing Kerr to beat Ashleigh Gunning and chip the goalkeeper.
Adelaide crept back into the match after the break. Papageorgiou’s shot from distance needed a fingertip save from Tine Cederkvist to deflect the ball onto the bar. With 73 minutes played Adelaide pulled a goal back when Cederkvist’s attempted clearance rebounded off Gorry, who had the simple task of running into an empty net and score. Glory Women could have come home with all three points but D’Ovidio placed wide, Kerr was thwarted by Harvey and a cheeky volley by McCallum dipped the wrong side of the upright.
BAYSWATER START ON THE RIGHT NOTE
Bayswater City marked their return to top flight football by downing Swan United 2-0 in last night’s opening game of the 2011 Night Series at Macedonia Park. Alex Caniglia and Josh Tumoe found the net in a fast paced contest to give coach Mauro Marchione a dream start to life in the Premier League. “We play possession football, so that the opposition is chasing us and tonight it worked to our advantage,” he said. “Four of our senior players are on the bench due to injury and suspensions, so we played some of the younger boys and they impressed. They stepped up where it counted and I’m very pleased how the whole team performed.”
The opening exchanges were tight with the teams creating some good opportunities on goal while sizing each other up. Bayswater fashioned the best of these chances when Thomas Gooding and Anthony McStea combined to set up Gavin Knight, whose shot deflected on to the crossbar. The danger didn’t end there for Swan with the rebound falling kindly for Cisco Jorqueira but his shot was well saved by Daniel Agudelo. As it was Bayswater needed only two more minutes before breaking through, Tumoe beating a couple of opponents on the right before whipping in a cross which Caniglia knocked in at the back post. Bayswater were unlucky not to add a few more to their tally with Knight pulled up for offside while two good saves from Agudelo ensured the gap remained a single goal at the break.
Bayswater’s dominance flowed over into the second half, which commenced with Jorqueira crashing a long-range effort into the crossbar. Moment later Agudelo’s agility allowed him to pull off a stunning save that kept another Jorqueira shot from entering the top corner. Gianni Papalia had to wait until the hour before seriously being put under threat, the Bayswater custodian saving well from Michael Tronchin. Swan went close again son after via a low drive from Trent Wood which Papalia was alert to. It didn’t take long for Bayswater to reassert themselves on the game and Damian Catalano was thwarted in a one-on-one with Agudelo. Tumoe made the game safe with ten minutes left, the midfielder jinxing his way past three defenders before applying a clinical finish past Agudelo.
CHAPPELL GRABS JOONDALUP A SHARE
ECU Joondalup came from behind to pick up a 1-1 draw with Stirling Lions in yesterday’s late game at Macedonia Park. Teenage midfielder David Hunt put Stirling one-nil up on the hour but substitute Neil Chappell salvaged a point for his team by fired in from distance. “I was very pleased with the efforts of the players tonight, we’ve only had five training sessions so far but the shape was good and the new players blended in well,” said Joondalup coach Steve Amphlett, who was particularly pleased with the efforts of debutants Jon Stynes, Ross Edwards and Oliver McGee. “The team will only get better as we get fitter and the new players blend in with the way we are trying to play.”
The big crowd was treated to a cracking start in which both teams threatened to breakthrough in the opening minutes. John Thornley should have done better than skew his effort wide when well placed for Joondalup, and soon after Jamie De Abreu forced a fine save from goalkeeper Andy Banks with the rebound falling just out of Phil O’Callaghan’s reach. On the half hour Stynes, a product of Joondalup’s young system, delivered a free kick into the 18-yard box where McGee headed just wide. De Abreu made sure there was no rest for the opposition defence by bustling past Ross Edwards only to find Banks in no mood to concede. Banks was stretched once again just before the break in keeping out De Abreu’s curling shot from the edge of the box.
Jon Higgins flashed a free kick just high as Joondalup started the second stanza under full steam. However, it was the home team that broke the deadlock with a sweeping move started by Cory Hugo and channelled through Bobby Wilson and Jamie Watt before Hunt fired low past Banks. Watt went within centimetres of sealing the win with an acrobatic overhead that whistled the wrong side of the post. Parity was restored on 74 minutes when Scott Blackmore and Chappell combined to send Jordan Dodds clear down the right, the youngster cutting inside the area and setting up Chappell to fired in at close-range. Play was frantic during the final ten minutes as attacks were traded in search of a winning goal. Watt put a diving header just wide, then Hugo brilliantly saved from both Josh Brook and Huss Awada. The final chance had Chappell slam into the post.
Stirling coach Paul Lincoln had no complaints with the outcome. “The game was a tight contest as I expected it with both sides creating opportunities to score,” he said. “It took us a while to get going, but overall I’m pleased with the performance of the team. David Hunt worked really hard and was awarded with a well taken goal. Michael Pugliese and Jason Gavin had good games along with Phil O’Callaghan, who should have headed home the winner late in the game. We were thankful to Cory Hugo, who made two fantastic saves, while Huss Awada showed glimpses of what he has to offer and I feel will get better as the season goes on.”
SOCCEROOS PLACED WELL AFTER DRAWING WITH SOUTH KOREA
Mile Jedinak’s first international goal earned Australia a valuable 1-1 draw with fellow Asian Cup heavyweights South Korea in tonight’s Group C clash. The Socceroos entered the break a goal down after a lapse in concentration allowed Koo Ja-Cheol to put South Korea ahead in the 24th minute in front of 15,526 fans at Al Gharafa Stadium. Australia squandered a host of opportunities to equalise before Jedinak levelled in the 62nd minute with a close-range header. The result put Australia in a strong position to progress to the knockout stages, needing only a draw in their last match against Bahrain on Tuesday to go through.
South Korea looked superior at times but the Socceroos had as many genuine chances on goal. They could have had an early lead but Harry Kewell lifted high at close-range and a penalty appeal for a foul on Tim Cahill was dismissed by the referee before Luke Wilkshire shot straight at goalkeeper Jung Sungryong. Midway through the half Sungryong hit a long ball that Australia cleared the defence and was retrieved by Ji Dong-won who squared for Koo to rifle past Mark Schwarzer and into the far corner. Both teams created some superb openings but with neither able to find the net it was South Korea that held a slender one-nil half-time advantage.
The second half opened with Schwarzer under fire, the long-time Socceroo custodian keeping out shots from Koo and Park Ji-sung with Lee Jung-soo glancing just high in between. Australia drew level just after the hour when South Korea’s failure to properly deal with a corner was punished by Jedinak, who out-jumped the defence to head in after Lucas Neill floated a ball back across the face of goal. South Korea carved out the better chances in the remaining half hour would have stolen a late win had Schwarzer not moved sharply to push away Ki Seung-yeung’s close-range effort in the 87th minute.
2011 STARTS WITH A BAM!
The Bam Creative Night Series gets under way with double headers across all four venues this weekend. Newly promoted Bayswater City will want to make an early impression when they take on Division One outfit Swan United at Macedonia Park (6.30pm) tonight. Strike partners Gustavo Marulanda and Kailo Karpeh hold the key for Bayswater along with the midfield service of Damien Catalano. Swan boss John O'Reilly will look to Robert Monterosso and Tom Shepheard to lead a young team which includes club veteran Damian Scali, who has come out of retirement to help the black and whites this season.
The late game has Stirling Lions up against ECU Joondalup (8.30pm). With several of his squad unavailable, Paul Lincoln will use the game to expose some of Stirling's youngsters to senior football, amongst them James Street and Rick Del Basso. Joondalup made the semi-finals of the tournament last year and Syd Amphlett no doubts to improve on that this time around. New signing Oliver McGee and Jamie Kidd provide a few extra options to a side in which John Thornley's influence in the final third is going to be pivotal.
On Sunday a new-look Balcatta under Michael Roki travel to Percy Doyle Reserve to play Wanneroo City (5.00pm). Ashley Rosendale and Adam Tong will be key figures for Roki whose overhaul of the playing list has John Migas and Daniel Micevski among the clubs' nine newcomers. Wanneroo finished third in Division One last season and coach Gerry McEwan needs to have Brian Cairney, Guy McDonald and Dean Timmings on song if they are to cause an upset.
Sorrento have a difficult opening round fixture against Night Series experts Perth SC (7.00pm). Summer recruits Jack Doyle and Welshman David Thomas are expected to debut for a Gulls side that will be missing David Price and David Foster. Greg Sharland and Aaron Cole are back from long-term injury for Perth while Jason Dos Santos and Calum O'Connell add further options as the club attempts to win a historic sixth successive Night Series.
Hyundai Stadium is the venue for Western Knights against Cockburn City (5.00pm) on Sunday. The Knights have been busy in the transfer market from where coach Carl Medica has brought in Branimir Mikulic, Glen Thomas and veteran Dale Wingell. There's not been a great deal of change at Cockburn where Tony Castiello has shown his loyalty to those players that last season secured the club another year in the top flight. Johnny Mirco will spearhead the attack with Marc Anthony and Adrian Webster providing the drive from midfield.
Mandurah City's first outing of 2011 is against second tier club Bunbury Forum Force (7.00pm). Captain Andy Brown leads from the front a Dolphins side that boasts the talents of Jeff Bright, Jordan Rhodes and Ryan Townsend. The next few weeks will give new Bunbury boss Nigel Wilcox a good look at his young squad as they prepare for another attempt to lift the Division One trophy. The departure of several regulars provides Ryan Montgomery, Ryan Risdon, Rory Binnie and a host of youngsters a chance to shine.
The opening game at Alfred Skeet Oval is Inglewood United verses Forrestfield United (5.00pm) on Sunday. Shane Pryce will have on show recent arrivals David McNally, Brendan Craig and James Sammut, the latter joining Sandi Loncar and Michael Baczynski in Inglewood's engine room. Jamie Burns scored a bagful of goals last season and is confident of continuing that trend courtesy of a steady supply from Matt Harold and Jordan Hart.
Armadale will fancy their chances against a much-changed Floreat Athena (7.00pm) in the late match at Alfred Skeet Oval. Young attackers Michael Grigo and Tom Kennedy will wear Armadale colours for the first time but coach Brad Hassell will be without prize recruits Craig Young and Anthony Campbell. Floreat, who lost nine first team regulars over the summer, welcome Garin Collins, Paul Van Dongen and Daniel Trevisiol into the squad along with rising stars Jack Allen and Curtis Prior.
LADY REDS NEXT UP FOR GLORY WOMEN
Perth Glory Women fly to South Australia this afternoon ahead of tomorrow's encounter with Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium. Following last weeks big loss to reigning champions Sydney FC, Glory Women must take maximum points over their hosts to remain in finals contention. " Any team that takes Adelaide lightly are taking a massive risk as they have shown that they can play good football in patches," captain Tanya Oxtoby said. "At the moment it's just one game at a time for us and we need to win tomorrow before even thinking about next week." The Adelaide-Glory W-League kicks-off tomorrow at 12midday (Perth time) and will be broadcast from 3.00pm on ABC1.
JONATHAN COOK EXAMINES THE BURGEONING GROWTH OF HOME GROWN TALENT (courtesy the ‘West Australian’)
The Perth Glory squad could be made up almost entirely of West Australia players within five years partly due to the improvement in local player development, says the club's former assistant coach, Kenny Lowe. WA players are already excelling around the world and Lowe, who left Glory this season, believes there is more to come from the latest batch of youngsters after success at last month's national youth championships.
One of the most respected figures in WA soccer, Lowe is head coach of Football West's National Training Centre program team, which recently returned from a successful State Institute Challenge in Canberra. WA finished second behind the South Australian Sports Institute and had seven players picked in the 22-man all-star team, including player of the tournament Riley Woodcock.
The program is set for another boost this season with its players to reap the benefits of regular competitive matches after admission into the State league. "This is massively important because it means players at the top end have got a 12-month environment and can play around 40 games a year," Lowe said. Given the right approach Lowe believes could reduce Glory's interstate and overseas contingent to just a small percentage within five years, assuming some overseas-based WA players returned to Perth.
Glory's deputy chairman Lui Giuliani said the club, which has signed former NTC youngsters Adam Taggart and Josh Risdon, while Cameron Edwards has been training regularly with the squad, would push to sign more. "In the coming weeks we'll definitely be having a close look at youth," Giuliani said. "There's going to be a very focused commitment to sign young talent." About 60% of this season's Glory squad are WA players and that number should increase as home-grown talent improves.
The NTC program has not been solely responsible for improvements in player development and Lowe acknowledged the excellent work done by local clubs. Perth SC, Stirling Lions, ECU Joondalup and Cockburn City are among the development leaders, while Lowe highlighted the Noranda junior club's efforts with refugees. Glory's National Youth League team, coached by Gareth Naven, also has an important role in player improvement.
Dozens of WA players are plying their trade overseas with the likes of Socceroos goalkeeper Brad Jones (Liverpool) and Hull City midfielder Richard Garcia more advanced in their careers than Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough) and Aston Villa duo Chris Herd and Shane Lowry. Some 40 players have progressed from the NTC to the Glory youth team, while around 30 have played at international youth level.
Players have also signed deals with overseas clubs, including Julius Davies (Bayern Munich), Ryan Williams (Portsmouth), Aryn Williams (Burnley), Tom King (Liverpool), Nick Feely (Celtic) and Jack Clisby (St Johnstone). Several more are with A-League clubs with goalkeeper Mark Birighitti at Adelaide United, Eli Babalj at Melbourne Heart and Trent Sainsbury at Central Coast Mariners. Perth Glory defender Scott Neville was in the first crop of players to come through the NTC program.
YOUNG MOVING ON
It's a year to the day since Neil Young's world was turned upside down while keeping goal for Newcastle Jets. Complications to surgery for a badly broken nose, suffered while saving at the feet of Gold Coast United striker Shane Smeltz, led to several months in hospital and a further four operations for the goalkeeper, who is now finally on the mend. "On January 13 it will be a year since my last game, which is a long time," Young said. "I had watched the incident on DVD a few times to remind myself what I have gone through. I'm over it now and just want to move forward."
Young is ready to resume his A-League career after surviving a year of hell. "I'm raring to go," Young told 90 Minutes. "Health-wise there are no concerns. My weight is back up to 82 kilograms - about five less than where it was – and my core strength is as good, if not better. I still have to be sensible with what I eat but there are no other issues. I have been training with the squad for a month and have done a lot of extra Pilates work to improve my strength. Now I just want to start playing again."
Now back in full training, Young would have been part of the squad which played North Queensland Fury on the weekend had it not been for a toe injury he sustained a fortnight ago. "I bruised the knuckle in my big toe when I stuck my left foot out to make a save in a small-sided game at training," explained the 30-year old. "Physio Paul Hazell diagnosed it as a two to four-week injury but I told him I've got nine other toes, I'll be right in a week."
With his contract due to expire at seasons' end, Young knows now is the time to show coach Branko Culina that he has what it takes to continue playing national league. "I've got eight games to prove I am worthy of another contract," Young said. "I'm not sure what Branko has planned for me. But we take on Gold Coast at Skilled Park on January 22 and I'd like to at least be on the bench for that game ... It would make a good story if my first game back in goals is against Gold Coast, but only if we came out on top of them."
TOMBIDES BOYS A HIT WITH THE HAMMERS
The past couple for years have been a breakthrough period for Dylan and Taylor Tombides with the siblings cementing spots in West Ham Uniteds’ youth teams. Dylan, 17, was first to make his mark with the London club, scoring on debut for the Hammers under-18’s against Portsmouth and becoming a regular of that side before stepping up to Reserves football last month against Chelsea. Taylor, 15, is poised to follow in his brothers footsteps after some impressive showings for the under-15 academy team.
Dylan is understandably thrilled with what he has achieved since entering the Hammers Academy. “I’ve been around the club for two and half years, and I’m finding my feet well at the moment,” the striker said. “It’s been a great month personally and for the 18’s. We started the season really slowly but the last couple of month the boys have lifted and it’s showed on the pitch. We beat Arsenal, which gave us a massive lift, and like me a number of the side have pushed our way into the reserves side and I’m looking forward to getting back, working hard and looking for a starting spot in the side.”
A junior with Wembley Downs, Dylan spent time at Stirling Lions and Perth SC prior to being spotted by West Ham. His talents were further recognised last August with a place in the Australia under-17 team that competed in an international tournament in Scunthorpe. “It was a great experience for me, and to play for your country is a great honour,” Dylan enthused. “We played England, Portugal and Turkey and a couple of my West Ham teammates played for England, so I got a little bit of stick from them when they beat us.”
Dylan will add to his experience later this month when he heads to Dubai for an international tournament in which the young Hammers play Hamburger SV (Germany), Al-Ahly (Egypt) and Baniyas (United Arab Emirati). “It will be a good work out for the lads. It will be hot over there, something they aren’t used to, but they will enjoy getting away from the very cold temperatures in England at the moment,” he said. “I’ll catch up with the rest of the squad in London before heading to Dubai, so I’ve had to watch what I eat over Christmas.”
Playing for West Ham’s under-15 team has provided Taylor a sample of life as a professional footballer. “Playing at that level in the UK, week in and week out is amazing, and it’s helped my game a great deal,” he said. “In Perth you have big games like Lions v Perth but in the Premier Academy League you have games like that every week. The football is sharp and you have to be on your toes all the time. It’s a great opportunity for me at West Ham, and it’s one I want to take with both hands, but I still need to the hard work off the pitch too with my studies.”
Taylor, a Stirling and Perth junior, is slowly getting used to England’s cold, as are some of his team mates. “I’m gradually getting used to the snow and cold weather and it’s just something you have to put up with,” he said. “We have some talented African players in the squad and they find it hard to get to grips with the cold. It’s fantastic to play in the same side as these talented player’s week in and week out, and it’s improving my game all the time.”
Taylor, who still has two years of schooling to go, draws inspiration from his brothers’ move into international football and hopes that one day he too will get the opportunity to wear the green and gold of his nation. “It’s a dream to play for your country but it means a great deal of hard work,” Taylor commented. “I’ve seen what Dylan has gone through to get there, and when I get old enough to represent Australia I hope they release he has a younger brother and they look at me - that would be fantastic.”
ROBBIE DUNN MEDAL HONOURS LEGEND
West Australian legend Robbie Dunn has been recognised with the best player in the Night Series final awarded a medal in the defenders name. Dunn, capped 25 times at 'A' level for Australia, is honoured Football West have introduced the Robbie Dunn Medal. "With the naming of the best afield after me I am absolutely thrilled," he said. "The Night Series was always a great event when I was playing and I was lucky enough to win it both times I played in it with a very good Perth team. I can't wait for the Night Series Final and look forward to handing out the medal to the best afield and would like to wish good luck to all."
Dunn played locally for Rockingham City, North Perth Croatia and Perth Italia as well as in the National Soccer League for West Adelaide, Preston Makedonia and Melbourne Croatia. Along the way he represented Australia in qualifiers for the 1986 World Cup and at the 1988 Olympic Games. "Players don't play for any other reason than for the love of the game, but gaining recognition along the way and now after my playing career, being recognised with such an award is very humbling for me," he added. The Night Series kicks off this weekend with games in Balcatta, Armadale, Sorrento and Mandurah.
NEW CLUB EXCITES DOS SANTOS
Perth SC recruit Jason Dos Santos is looking forward to the challenges on offer with his new club. The midfielder, who celebrates his 25th birthday on Friday, has made it his goal to break into a traditionally strong Perth line-up and quickly cement a first eleven spot. “It’s a big challenge for me,” he said. “Ronnie Campbell has proved to be a top coach over the years and I can’t wait to work with him. There is always a strong squad at Perth every year, and I knew this when agreeing terms with the club. I am really looking forward to working hard and pushing for a regular starting spot.”
Having played his entire senior career to date with Cockburn, it’s no surprise Dos Santos thought long and hard before cutting ties with the club. “It was defiantly a tough decision to leave Cockburn. I have been around the club for a long time and got to know some really great people,” said the midfielder, who was courted by a number of clubs. “There were a few other options but I felt that the decision I made was best for me at this point of time, and felt it was time for a new challenge for me and I’m really excited about the season.”
Dos Santos broke into Cockburn’s senior line-up as a teenager and has many happy memories from his time at Dalmatinac Park. “I really enjoyed my time at the club and enjoyed going to training every night and being a part of a very strong unit team and club,” said Dos Santos, who gained State Youth honours while a Cockburn player. “I have also played under some quality coaches in my time there and I have also enjoyed that experience, and I’ve made a great deal of friends on and off the pitch there over the years.”
COYNE TO MISS THE SEASON
An Achilles tendon injury has ended Chris Coyne’s plans of playing for Perth Glory this season. Coyne, 32, had only recently become available to play for Glory following complications with his loan move to Chinese club Liaoning Hongyun. “I’m devastated to miss the final push,” Coyne told au.fourfourtwo.com. “The boys have acquitted themselves well in the past three or four weeks and I wanted to come in and make a difference. I’m very disappointed and I feel like I’ve let down a few people in Perth. I wanted to come in and re-pay them, try get some wins and put in some dominant performances so we could finish on a high, if not get into the finals.”
Coyne had a pre-existing acute Achilles tendonitis injury before a training ground accident last week inflamed the problem. “I went for a challenge on Howard Fondyke - it was two days before a game - and I might have clattered him so I pulled out of it and invariably I’ve hurt myself. I locked my heel into the turf and over-stretched it,” he explained. “The last two weeks I knew it wasn’t right. I haven’t been able to train, I’ve been wrapped in cotton wool. I’ve gone to a specialist on Friday and he said to me afterwards ‘I don’t think you’ll be playing the rest of the year because it looks quite bad in there compared to last time’. The scan has then revealed a two-centimetre tear.”
HERD HITS HAT-TRICK FOR VILLA RESERVES
Aston Villa's young Australian midfielder Chris Herd is over the moon after scoring a hat-trick in Monday's unbelievable 10-1 Reserves victory over Arsenal. Herd, 21, struck after 40, 64 and 85 minutes as Villa sunk the Gunners in front of first team boss Gerard Houllier. "I've never been involved in anything like that since I've been in England," Herd said. "It was a good feeling to get a hat-trick … All of my goals were near enough the same - from corners and free-kicks - so I just followed them in and put them away each time. I was in the right place at the right time."
The winning margin would have been even greater had Villa made more of their chances according to Herd. "It could have been more - we hit the bar as well, we created loads of chances so the coaches were happy and it was just a good team performance," said Herd, who revealed Villa's second sting were spurred on by words of encouragement from Houllier. "He came in to the changing room before the game and he helps all the boys, he encourages us and he lets us go and play football. That is what he wants to do and it is great to play under managers like that - you are learning every day."
OFFICE SQUEEZE FORCES GLORY OUT
Perth Glory will temporarily use Tony Sage's Leederville offices for their administration base after being forced from Perth Oval by a lack of space. Glory, who moved into Perth Oval when it was redeveloped more than six years ago, will continue to play at the ground but expect to have vacated the offices by the end of the week. "We are reluctant to move but we have to because there's just not enough space for us," chief executive Paul Kelly said. "We've moved our football department to AK Reserve but there's still not enough space at the stadium."
Town of Vincent Mayor Nick Catania, who wants a planned redevelopment of the venue to include administrative facilities, expressed his regret that Glory would move. "I'm disappointed to see the main users move out. Glory were the catalyst for this oval being redeveloped in the first place," Catania said. Peter Baunchop, chief executive of stadium operator Allia Venue Management, said increased demands meant Allia needed more space than when Glory first entered the A-League in 2005.
WILLIAMS DOUBLE CAN’T SAVE PORTSMOUTH
Ryan Williams scored twice but it wasn't enough to prevent Portsmouth from bowing out of the English FA Youth Cup at the hands of Manchester United. Williams, younger sibling of Socceroo Rhys Williams and a former junior with ECU Joondalup, inspired Pompey's late revival by converting in the 84th minute after fellow West Australia Alex Grant and Dan Butler combined in the lead-up. Six minutes later 17-year old Williams burst through the hosts defences to add a second, however, Portsmouth were unable to find another goal to take the game into extra-time. United had earlier opened up a three-goal buffer through Paul Pogba, Larnell Cole and Will Keane.
CAHILL ON SONG AS AUSTRALIA CRUSH INDIA
Australia got their Asian Cup campaign under way with a comfortable 4-0 win over India last night at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha. The Socceroos dominated the first half with Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and Brett Holman putting the result beyond doubt before the break, after which Cahill added his second. The final margin could have been greater had it not been for the efforts of India goalkeeper Subrata Pal, who limited the damage with some impressive saves.
While the avalanche of goals some had predicted didn't eventuate, the performance pleased coach Holger Osieck. "From my point of view it was a good start. In particular in the first half we played tactically very well," he said. "It's always a problem and difficult to break the opponent's defence when they sit and that is what they did. But I think we showed a lot of tactical discipline on our attacking side ... to start with a 4-0 all in all is good and should build the confidence for the next games to come."
It took 11 minutes for Australia to break through with Brett Emerton's sublime low centre from wide on the right slammed into the roof of the net by Cahill at point-blank range. Cahill swapped his trademark boxing kangaroo celebration for a telephone gesture, referring to the telethon in progress to raise funds for the Queensland flood victims. Climax Lawrence should have done better than shoot high and wide, while Cahill was incorrectly ruled offside after heading in from David Carney's delivery.
However, the Socceroos didn't have to wait too much longer for their second, with Kewell's vintage left-foot strike from 25-metres giving Pal no chance after 25 minutes. Pal brilliantly denied Cahill at close-range, and soon after was at full-stretch in tipping the midfielder's volley over the crossbar. But there was little he could do in the shadows of half-time when Holman powerfully headed in an Emerton cross.
The Socceroos began the second half full of confidence with Cahill and Emerton going close to scoring a fourth. On 65 minutes Cahill clinched his double by rising above a host of opponents to guide a Luke Wilkshire free-kick into the net. With the game won Osieck rested Kewell, Emerton and Mile Jedinak to give Scott McDonald, Matt McKay and Nathan Burns a run. The games' final opening had Sunil Chhetri race through after beating the offside trap only to be robbed of a shot by Sasa Ognenovski.
JONES HAS A JOB AHEAD OF HIM
Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones says he'll have to earn the belief of new boss Kenny Dalglish to ensure he stays second behind Spanish international Pepe Reina in his club's goalkeeping pecking order. Currently at the Asian Cup with the Socceroos, Jones admits to being shocked by news Liverpool had sacked Roy Hodgson despite presiding over just seven wins from 20 Premier League starts this season. "I've got to go back and make sure everyone else has got the same sort of respect for me and wants me there as much (as Hodgson did)," said Jones, who was brought to Liverpool by Hodgson in the off-season.
The final nail in Hodgson's coffin was last weeks loss to Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool's ninth of the campaign. "It is a shock. Everyone's disappointed when results don't go your way. Managers tend to pay with their jobs. That's disappointing because we're the ones who go out on the pitch, we're the ones who haven't got the results," said Jones. "We're a massive club and we're not doing well. It's disappointing but it's obviously up to the players to turn it around this second half of the season and make sure that we get the right results."
Jones, 28, is confident Dalglish, who played 515 games and scored 172 goals for Liverpool, has seen enough of him to know what he brings to the table. "Kenny's been around the club a fair bit. He's at every game and he comes to training. He's seen me and he knows me," he said from the Socceroos camp in Qatar. "I don't think it's a massive problem but obviously I'd like to be there and help out in anyway I can, but while I'm here, I'm 100% behind our (Australia's) chances. I'm sure it'll be a difficult few weeks (at Liverpool), but as long as the boys get a few results, it'll all turn around."
ALARM BELLS RING OVER LACK OF CORPORATE FACILITIES AT PERTH OVAL
Town of Vincent mayor Nick Catania is concerned the State Government's redevelopment of Perth Oval will short change football. Stage one of the upgrade includes a 10,000-seat stand with 80% roof coverage, food and beverage outlets, new toilet facilities and more than 50 wheelchair spaces. However, the Town is concerned that the $88 million proposal does not include corporate facilities.
Catania emphasised he is "over the moon" that the state is investing in Perth Oval, but without corporate boxes Perth Glory and Rugby WA could lose a significant amount of revenue and sponsorship. "The Town's proposal was to construct a grandstand with corporate facilities," Catania said. "Sporting bodies can only make money out of corporate facilities." Catania is also concerned construction had been included outside the stadium boundaries, namely on the caretaker's cottage site.
Sport and Recreation Minister Terry Waldron said the initial stage of redevelopment focuses on seating and spectator facilities with minor improvement to the ground's corporate facilities. The State Government announced in July the adoption of a masterplan for the oval that called for a 25,000-seat rectangular stadium to be delivered in stages. Construction of the new facility will take about 16 months, with building anticipated to begin in 2012.
FIVE STAR SYDNEY DUMP GLORY WOMEN
Perth Glory Women have been left shell-shocked by a rampant Sydney FC, who secured second place on the table with a 5-1 win under sunny skies at 6PR Stadium in Inglewood. Sydney hit the ground running with Leena Khamis finding the net twice inside eight minutes to throw Glory Women onto the back foot. Collette McCallum free-kick hit the post as the home team regrouped and Sydney goalkeeper Dimi Poulos was called on to push away shots Kate Gill and Samantha Kerr before the break.
The game was ended as a contest just minutes into the second half when Kyah Simon finished past Tine Cederkvist. McCallum pulled a goal back for the hosts but this was to be Sydney’s afternoon and five minutes later Simon scored her second to restore the three-goal buffer. Simon completed her hat-trick late on to rub salt in Glory Women’s wounds. The win consolidates Sydney’s grip on second spot, putting them within a point of leaders Brisbane Roar, while Glory Women slip down to sixth and one point outside the top four.
CACERES JOINS HEIDELBERG
Inglewood United attacker Adrian Caceres has signed on with Victorian Premier League side Heidelberg United for season 2011. Caceres was instrumental in Inglewood hauling themselves away from the relegation zone over the closing months of 2010 following his July release from A-League club Wellington Phoenix. He is expected to figure prominently when Heidelberg attempt to better last seasons’ fourth placing when the new campaign kicks off next month.
A strong season in Victoria could propel Caceres, 28, back into A-League contention. The attacker has three national league champions medals to his credit from a 144-game career in which he’s worn the colours of Perth Glory, Melbourne Victory, Central Coast Mariners and Wellington. Additionally, he played 44 times in England through spells with Brentford, Hull City, Yeovil Town and Wycombe Wanderers.
INDIAN STAR IN MITCHELL’S SIGHT
Indian striker Sunil Chhetri is being considered to lead the Perth Glory attack as the club looks towards new horizons for next season. David Mitchell, Glory’s director of football, has flown to Qatar where he’ll play special attention to Chhetri’s performance for his nation in the Asian Cup. “I’ll be looking at some players and Chhetri is one I’ve had my eye on for a while,” said Mitchell. “He’s a big name in India and a very good player. Mitchell was keen to sign Chhetri before the start of the current season but missed out when the 26-year old joined Kansas City Wizards in the United States.
GLORY RELEASE JUKIC
Attacking midfielder Andrija Jukic has become the third Perth Glory player to be released from the final months of a contract as the club builds towards next season. The writing had been on the wall for the gifted 24-year old for some time with coach Ian Ferguson consistently overlooking Jukic even when squad depth was tested by injuries. Jukic made 19 appearances over two seasons for Glory and will immediately join Indonesian Super League side Bogor Raya. Goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski parted company with Glory in December to join Solo (Indonesia) with striker Michael Baird following suit last week to sign with A-League side Central Coast Mariners.
GLORY HOLD LEAGUE LEADERS
A defiant Perth Glory came away from Suncorp Stadium this evening with a hard fought 1-1 draw with runaway A-League leader Brisbane Roar, who extended their unbeaten streak to a record 20 games. Mile Sterjovksi out the visitors ahead just after the half hour, a lead which they retained until Mitch Nicholls headed in the equaliser on 63 minutes. Glory, to their credit, made the most of their limited opportunities and head back to Perth with two points from as many games this week in Queensland.
Brisbane began dangerously and should have taken the lead when the ball ricocheted to Kosta Barbarouses who skewed wide from 8-metres. Robbie Fowler was involved in the visitors first couple of chances, setting up Sterjovski and Adriano Pellegrino but goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos remained untested. Otherwise it was Brisbane’s slick one-touch passing game that dominated as Glory bunkered down at the back and played on the counterattack.
With 31 minutes on the clock Glory took a shock with Sterjovski firing in from near the penalty spot after running the ball out of midfield and playing a tidy one-two with Fowler to go inside the 18-yard box. Brisbane tried valiantly to get back on level terms but were frustrated time and time again but a stubborn defensive line. In the shadows of half-time Tando Velaphi pulled off a stunning reflex save to deny Matt Smith an equaliser from a Thomas Broich corner.
Sterjovksi should have had another nine minutes after the break when found in space by Jamie Coyne, but his attempt was straight at Theoklitos. The introduction of Henrique soon after worked a treat for the hosts, the Brazilian bamboozling Josh Mitchell before delivering an inch perfect cross which Nichols got to header of his marker and headed past Velaphi, bring the teams level after 63 minutes.
Brisbane controlled the final half hour but were unable to find the sharpness required to fashion a winner. Smith went closest with a downward header which Velaphi brilliantly kept out of his net. Things became heated late in the piece with referee Jarred Gillett stepping in to break up a couple of minor scuffles. The draw keeps Glory’s faint finals hopes alive while Brisbane march on towards the regular season title, moving 12 points ahead of second-placed Adelaide United who have a game in hand over the leaders.
STIRLING TO PLAY MALAYSIAN CHAMPIONS
Stirling Lions’ take preparations for the 2011 Night Series up a notch this evening when they meet Malaysian champions Selangor in a friendly at Vasto Reserve in Balcatta. Selangor, Malaysian Super League champions for the past two years, boast no fewer than ten Malaysian internationals and should provide Stirling exactly the test they’re after just days out from the start of the local season.
Don Evans, president of Stirling, is looking forward to seeing how his team stacks up against Malaysia’s finest. “It is always a pleasure to host our good football friends from Malaysia at a time when football in the region is going through a renaissance,” Evans said. “Selangor have been and continue to be leaders in the Malaysian Super League and we are looking forward to a highly skilled encounter between our two clubs.”
Tonight’s game at Vasto Reserve, which starts at 7.00pm and to which entry is free, is the third in a week-long training camp for Selangor. On Monday the visitors went down 2-1 to Bayswater City, strikes by Cisco Jorqueria and Anthony McStea negating a goal by defender D.Surendran, while on Wednesday S.Sritharan netted late to cancel out Andreas Oliviera’s first half goal and earn a 1-1 draw with Perth SC.
GLORY WOMEN AIM TO TAKE DOWN SYDNEY
Marianna Tabain says Perth Glory Women are ready to reignite their finals aspirations by bringing down high-flying Sydney FC this weekend. Glory Women are feeling refreshed from a three-week break and Tabain is confident they can take out the points. “The break has definitely given us an opportunity to freshen up and work on our structure for this week’s game,” she said. “We’ve had some time to focus on areas where Sydney were too strong in our last match and we will be doing our best to break them down in defence on Sunday. Sydney is always a tough side to play, but if we stick to our game plan, we have a good chance of walking away with the three points.”
Tabain believes the acquisition of foreigners Tine Cederkvist and Alexandra Nilsson have been key reasons behind the teams strong showing this season. “Defensively, our performance has without a doubt improved this season,” Tabain said. “We’re a more experienced team than previous years and our new signings have added more depth to the squad. We’re going into this week’s game with confidence from our win in Melbourne and hope that momentum carries into Sunday. Of course finals are in our minds, but we're concentrating on each game as it comes and trying to perform well as a team week in, week out.” Glory Women and Sydney come face-to-face from 5.00pm on Sunday at 6PR Stadium in Inglewood.
BALCATTA SNAP UP MICEVSKI
Versatile midfielder Daniel Micevski has joined Balcatta’s ambitious quest for a maiden finals appearance in just their second Premier League campaign. Micevski listened to offers from several clubs before ending a successful three-year relationship with Western Knights by agreeing terms with Balcatta. “It was flattering to have many clubs interested in my services, and that made for a decision difficult, but I’m happy I’ll be working for Michael Roki and Balcatta next season,” he said. “I made many good friends at the Knights and I’m fortunate to have been part of such a successful period for the club.”
Balcatta’s appointment of Michael Roki as first team coach had a big bearing on where Micevski would play in 2011. “I have heard great things about Michael and I’m definitely looking forward to working with him and the challenge of working towards a new successful period for Balcatta. We have a great squad and the club has a great youth set-up, so things are really positive all around the club,” Micevski commented. “I think there will be a lot of expectations from us next season. I personally want to win the league again and I believe we have a great chance to do that.”
Roki is delighted to have Micevski, who is comfortable playing anywhere down the right flank or in central midfield, on board. “Daniel will have an important role to play for us next season and his signing adds quality and experience to the squad we are assembling,” said Roki. “Daniel is extremely driven to succeed and hopefully Balcatta can be a platform that will allow him to showcase his best soccer yet. His strengths of speed, mobility and work rate coupled with his ability to score goals are qualities not often gifted in one player, so I feel exceptionally pleased to be able to have him as part of this year’s squad.”
Micevski has many fond memories of his three seasons with the Knights, where he collected a 2008 State League Cup winner’s medal before helping the club top the Premier League table in 2009 and 2010. “There were so many great memories, results and trophies in my time at the Knights, which I’m indeed grateful,” Micevski said. “The one thing now that stands out to me was how much I enjoyed my football and training with Paul Price and Ronnie Campbell and a great bunch of footballers at Nash Field, it’s something I will never forget.”
MONTEROSSO TO LEAD SWAN
Swan United has handed long-time defender Robert Monterosso the captain’s armband for the winter of 2011. Monterosso, 27, is understandably honoured to lead the black and whites into the coming season, which will be his seventh with the club. “I am delighted to be given the captaincy for the upcoming season and I’m looking forward to leading the boys into what will hopefully be a very successful season,” he said. “Things are going well in pre-season, a few of the boys have been doing their own bit of extra training so the general fitness of the group is good, which means we are on the front foot for the Night Series.”
Monterosso has been a first eleven constant throughout his Swan career and is planning to continue that under John O’Reilly, who took up the coaching reins in late September. “I am looking forward to working with John. He has a very professional approach to all aspects of the club, both on and off the park,” Monterosso explained. “He has a true desire to see the game develop and it’s clearly evident in the changes that have already occurred around the club and those that are also still to come.”
O’Reilly is no stranger to Swan having coached the reserves to second in the league last season. The new first team boss views Monterosso as the ideal choice to lead the club back to the Premier League. “Rob was one of the first I spoke to regarding next season and I’m delighted to have him at the club and to have him as our club captain,” O’Reilly said. “Rob has been at the club now for several years, putting in a strong performance last year. His attitude and strong leadership qualities will have a big influence on the team this year.”
Monterosso believes Swan have it in them to bounce straight back into the top flight despite losing a number of experienced players. “We did expect to lose a few players and that’s just part of the game,” Monterosso said. “John’s focus is on the positives which is proving to be a great bit of motivation, all the boys are really buzzing for the coming season,” Monterosso said. “The squad is looking quite solid. We retained a core of players from last year’s squad and from the past few training sessions it looks like we may have just the right compliment of additions to make us the team to beat in the Division One.”
Clearly Swan’s expectations for 2011 have been set high and Monterosso is confident the new-look line-up will give a good account of themselves this coming season. “Ultimately the main goal is to achieve top spot and be straight back into the Premier League,” he said. “With the players that have stayed and the new recruits that have come down I’d say we are in good stead to attain that. With the style of football John is looking to play and the level of talent we have, we are definitely going to be hard to beat.”
SOCCEROOS HELD SCORELESS BY UAE
A below-strength Socceroos side was served a taste of the challenges that lay ahead when held to a 0-0 draw by the United Arab Emirates in their final pre-Asians Cup hit-out. With several of Australia’s stars rested, coach Holger Osieck handed starts to Nathan Burns, Matt McKay and Brad Jones while Nathan Coe, Robbie Kruse, Tommy Oar and Neil Kilkenny also featured. “I think they really took the opportunity very well,” Osieck said. “I was happy with that and I gained a lot of impressions from that.”
The first half going wasn’t easy for Australia who failed to break down their opponents despite a decent pitch and favourable conditions in the Al Ain. Captain Lucas Neill was paired successfully with Sasa Ognenovski at the back, while Mile Jedinak and Carl Valeri did a good job of controlling possession but Osieck admitted the Socceroos front third still needed work. Australia’s best chance of the period fell to McKay on 22 minutes when he fired first-time over the crossbar from a sweet lay-off by Scott McDonald.
Australia could have come away with a win after Neill found the back of the net in the 57th minute only for the goal to be harshly ruled out with Ognenovski adjudged offside in the build-up. The UAE forced some good late saves out of debutant Coe, who came on after halftime for Jones, while Fares Juma hit the post late with a powerful long-range shot. McKay could have snatched victory in the dying minutes but flashed a header just wide. Although the result didn’t end in Australia’s favour, it gave Osieck a chance to look at the depth of a squad that showed it has potential.
GLORY CUT LOSSES WITH BAIRD
Misfiring striker Michael Baird has been released by Perth Glory and could line-up for Central Coast Mariners as early as this weekend. Baird joined Glory at the start of the season from Romanian club Universitatea Craiova but had struggled to make an impact, scoring just once in 13 appearances. His last outing was in mid-November’s loss to Sydney FC with Baird failing to make the match day squad for Glory’s subsequent six games. Glory agreed to release the striker from the final months of his contract to join the Mariners.
WE CAN BEAT BRISBANE: NEVILLE
Perth Glory are poised to end Brisbane Roar’s long unbeaten record to a crashing end according to exciting young defender Scott Neville. Brisbane are currently eleven points clear at the top of the A-League table having not been beaten in 19 games but Neville says Glory have shown in recent outings that opposition form counts for very little come match day. “We’re confident going into any game, especially with the players we have in our team and the way we’ve been playing over the past couple of weeks,” Neville said. “Brisbane have to lose sometime and hopefully for us it will be this week.”
Glory squandered numerous chances in front of goal against Gold Coast United last time out and will have to improve considerably to trouble Brisbane. Star striker Robbie Fowler, who has netted nine times so far this term, is sure to trouble the home team who have captain Matt McKay on international duty and midielder Thomas Broich injured. “Brisbane is still strong without those players, they’ve got good reserve players,” Neville said. “So we’re still wary of the players coming through but as long as we concentrate on our own job I think we’ll get the job done … we’re looking forward to this game against Brisbane because I think we can cause a bit of an upset there.”
Neville hasn’t given up hope of Glory, who has lost just once in four games, playing in the finals. “It’s going to be hard to make the finals from here. But we’re just going to take every game as it comes and hopefully win all our home games and pick as many points up as we can on away trips and see where that leaves us,” he said. “We want to do well for the club and if we can sneak a finals’ spot that’s great but obviously we’re just trying to pick up as many points as we can towards the end of the season and see where that leaves us.”
LOWRY TO GO ON LOAN
Aston Villa youngster Shane Lowry is set to go out on loan with a number of English clubs chasing his signature. Lowry, 21, has previously spent time with Plymouth Argyle and Leeds United, and is now set to gain further first team experience with Charlton Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday the front runners to land the central defender. Lowry, a former ECU Joondalup junior, represented the Republic of Ireland at youth level but h pledged his senior international allegiance to Australia.
AUSTRALIA GETS 2015 ASIAN CUP
Australia will host the 2015 Asian Cup after its uncontested bid was rubber-stamped by the Asian Football Confederation. Football Federation Australia was the sole bidder for the event but still had to adhere to the formal bidding process by making its final presentation to the AFC’s executive committee. However, as expected, the bid earned unanimous support to ensure Australia will host its first major international tournament since joining the Asian confederation in 2006.
The tournament in Australia is planned for January 2015 and will feature the top 16 teams in Asia with matches to be played in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and the Gold Coast. It is estimated the 32 matches will attract up to 510,000 spectators with the Socceroos expected to play at least one group game in each Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. FFA has proposed Melbourne to host the opening match and Sydney to host the final.
COYNE AN OPTION AS GLORY STRETCHED
Defender Chris Coyne could be called on to make his first A-League appearance of the season when a depleted Perth Glory takes on Brisbane Roar on Friday evening. Glory must find fresh reserves of energy after griding in out a scoreless draw with Gold Coast United in oppressive conditions yesterday. Naum Sekulovski was forced off before half-time and his replacement, Andy Todd, struggled through the final twenty minutes after a collision with Adama Traore. Josh Mitchell was another defensive casualty as he succumbed to injury two minutes from the end.
Coyne had a frustrating wait for the transfer window to open on 1 January following his return in November from a loan move to Chinese club Liaoning Hongyun. Although cleared on Sunday night, he didn’t travel to Queensland because of an Achilles tendon injury but coach Ian Ferguson is considering calling on the former Socceroo. “We’ll have to get on the phone tomorrow and we’ll have to see who’s going to be available and we might have to bring one or two players over,” Ferguson said. With seven games remaining Glory sits nine points outside the A-League’s top six.
JONES EAGER FOR ASIAN CUP GLORY
Goalkeeper Brad Jones is hoping to help Australia to Asian Cup glory when the tournament begins in just under a weeks time in Qatar. The Liverpool goalkeeper joined his Socceroos teammates at a training camp in Dubai where they have a pre-tournament friendly with the United Arab Emirates before moving on o Doha on Thursday. “It should be a good experience, hopefully we can do well in the Asian Cup and I’m looking forward to it,” 28-year old Jones said.
Australia’s campaign opens against India before taking on South Korea and Bahrain in he group phase. “There are some strong teams in Asia and teams like Japan and South Korea are always going to be difficult to beat,” he added. “For the Australia national team at the minute it’s still a bit of a transitional period because we’ve had a few players retire and a few won’t be going to the Asian Cup because of club commitments. We have still got a good team and we are quietly confident.”
Jones has long hoped to become the Socceroos regular custodian but is content being second choice behind Mark Schwarzer. “Mark is the number one and deservedly so, but I will push him and help him as much as I can and try and do a good job,” said Jones. “I’m still striving myself to try and reach a level I am happy with and I am the sort of the person who isn’t happy until I get there. Obviously Mark is 38 now and is not going to go on for ever so the more time I can be around the national team the better.”
Although second choice also at club level behind Spanish international Pepe Reina, Jones is enjoying his time with Liverpool and hopes the new year will be a good one for his new club. “On a personal level I am really enjoying being at Liverpool but as a club we want to be higher up the table,” said Jones, whose team are mid-table in the English Premier League. “Things haven’t been going too well but we showed a good spirit against Bolton. Hopefully we can make 2011 a good year for Liverpool.”
POINTS SHARED ON THE GOLD COAST
Perth Glory picked up a valuable point by holding Gold Coast United to a 0-0 draw this evening at Skilled Park. Both teams struggled to adapt to the hot and humid conditions and either would have snatched a late victory had they been able to make more of their chances. “Gold Coast are no easy side, we have to be happy with the point,” said Glory captain Jacob Burns. “It was a different type of humidity (to Perth) out there. I think both teams were a little bit sluggish because of the heat, to hold on was great.”
The first half was largely devoid of highlights with chances few and far between. The first attempt on goal had Bruce Djite head wide from 7-metres in the 12th minute, and ten minutes later Robbie Fowler countered by sending a long-range free-kick wide. Glory defender Naum Sekulovski limped out of the game with a knee injury late in the half, after which Gold Coast stepped up the pace. Adama Traore’s stoppage time cross was just out of reach for Joel Porter, then soon after a free-kick by midfielder Robson was headed narrowly over by Dino Dulbic.
The game finally burst into life after the break Adriano Pellegrino flashing just wide a few minutes in. Gold Coast hit back through a superb free-kick by Robson that was glanced past the far post by Kristian Rees. A tidy one-two between Zenon Caravella and Porter ended with the later’s shot being saved by Tando Velaphi. The hosts were in control but Djite placed wide then had a shot from 15-metres saved by Velaphi before Djulbic lifted high a Caravella cross.
In the 76th minute Glory broke on the counterattack, Steven McGarry finding Fowler who cut past John Curtis but fired too close to Glen Moss. Moments later Fowler turned provider, picking out McGarry whose shot on the turn was also blocked by Moss. The visitors best chance of the game arrived with ten minutes to go, Mile Sterjovski crossing from the left for Fowler but Glory’s leading scorer snatched his shot wide from 6-metres.
As the clock ticked down either team could have gone ahead. Todd Howarth was found unmarked by a Sterjovski corner but sent his header high from 5-metres, then less than a minute later Velaphi tipped away Chris Broadfoot’s chip shot. Howarth played Scott Neville clear into the 18-yard box but the defender was let down by a poor first touch, allowing Moss to save. Gold Coast thought they had a 94th minute winner after Djite found the netted at the back post, however, it wouldn’t count as the ball was deemed to have crossed the line before substitute Tahj Minniecon crossed.
HEART PROBLEM WON’T GET NEVILLE DOWN
Young Perth Glory defender Scott Neville concedes the heart problem that saw him forced off the field a few weeks ago may be something he needs to manage for most of his career. Handed the captain's arm band in the absence of suspended Jacob Burns against Central Cost Mariners on 12 December, Neville left the field in the opening 20 minutes after feeling ill. “(It was) just an irregular heartbeat, so it’s pulsating too fast and you’re kind of short of breath and a bit wheezy,” explained Neville when asked to describe how he felt during the game with the Mariners.
Neville, 22, said he still needs further tests to determine if he needs medication to manage the arrhythmia but is confident it won’t affect his performances for Glory. “I’ve just got to get some more tests done to see what type of medications I need to take, but everything’s fine,” he added. “It’s something that comes and goes unexpectedly. The tests sometimes don’t show up when they’re going to come, (so) it could be once every six months, it could be once every three months or it might not come again for a couple of years. I’ve just got to make sure I do all the right things and go for the tests to make sure everything’s good.”
Neville was understandably thrilled to have taken on the captain’s arm band, wearing it with distinction against Adelaide United last month before his untimely exit against the Mariners. “Obviously I’m still quite young and learning the game. (But) to get that experience was great and I really appreciated it,” he said. “If the opportunity comes about I would never say no, but I don’t put myself out there to be a leader. I think it just comes natural. If the opportunity comes around I would more than happy to take it but at the moment I’m just concentrating on the team.”
INJURY RULES OUT GARCIA
Midfielder Richard Garcia is the latest Australian to be ruled out of the Asian Cup through injury. Garcia, who plays for English Championship club Hull City, suffered a recurrence of a knee injury during in his club’s scoreless draw with Crystal Palace in early December and is expected to undergo surgery shortly. Australia coach Holger Osieck has called up 19-year old Thomas Oar to replace Garcia, who joins strikers Josh Kennedy and Archie Thompson on the sidelines.
Garcia, capped 14 times by Australia, could miss up to a month of football. “He’ll have an operation on his knee to sort that out,” said Hull manager Nigel Pearson. “He’s been having a bit of discomfort for a while now so hopefully we can get to the bottom of it. It’s unfortunate because during the times when we were toiling a little bit, Garc was one of our really good performers. Whatever job we gave him, he did it without any moaning at all. He’s been a great performer for us so I’m disappointed for him.”
GOLD COAST SINK GLORY YOUTH IN TEN-GOAL THRILLER
Gold Coast United overturned a three-goal deficit to stun Perth Glory Youth 6-4 in sultry conditions at Owen Park. In one of the Y-League’s games of the season, the Gold Coast youngsters showed character and belief beyond their years to fight their way back into a contest that looked all over when Branko Jelic made it 4-1 to the visitors early in the second half. But two goals from Ben Halloran plus others by substitute Bobby Russell, captain Steve Lustica and Chris Harold secured a deserved win for the home side, who jump six points clear at the top of the table.
Despite the hot conditions, both teams started at full pace with Gold Coast fashioning four attempts on goal inside quarter of an hour. Against the run of play Glory Youth hit the front, Jelic making no mistake after sneaking in behind the defence with 24 minutes played. Eight minutes later poor defending allowed Glory Youth to double their advantage when a seemingly innocuous corner made its way through a sea of legs before being scramble over the line by Jelic. It became three-nil when Adam Taggart finished a well-crafted attack by drilling past Tim Anderson. But Gold Coast pulled one back on 41 minutes when an attempted clearance cannoned off Halloran and past goalkeeper Francis Soale.
Gold Coast renewed their attacking intent immediately after the restart with Halloran thumping a firm drive straight at Soale. But, just like the first half, Jelic latched on to a pass from midfield which he struck past Anderson from just inside the 18-yard box to complete his hat-trick. Just after the hour Russell provided the home team a way back into the game by gliding past two opponents before arrowing into the net from an acute angle. The gap was back to a single strike after Halloran applied a measured finish from inside the box in the 66th minute.
Parity was restored just two minutes later when Halloran unleashed an unstoppable 20-metre drive to bring up his first hat-trick of the campaign. Gold Coast were far from finished and with nine minutes of regulation time went ahead for the first time with Lustica converting from the penalty spot following a foul on livewire striker Harold. The points were made safe three minutes later, Harold crashing another penalty kick high into the net after being taken down for a second time. The result puts Gold Coast four points clear at the head of the Y-League whereas Glory Youth slip back to fifth spot on a very congested table.
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This page was last updated on the 6th January, 2011