MANDURAH LEAVE COCKBURN LANGUISHING (with James Wragg, Football West)
Mandurah City turned in one of their best performances of the season to date to inflict a 2-0 loss on Cockburn City at Dalmatinac Park. First half goals from Sean Dash and Christian Paschkewitz earned the Dolphins their third win of the season, a result which puts some much-needed breathing place between the club and the foot of the Premier League table. "They performed terrificly well, every one of them and I am very pleased for them," coach Mike Brazil said. "We have brought Christian Paschkewitz back into the squad this week and he has made a massive difference. He has given us a target, a focal point to aim at and he has done it exceptionally well."
Paschkewitz had the first opportunity of the afternoon when he got in behind the defence, who were caught static appealing for offside, but the striker blazed high of the crossbar. Mandurah got the goal they were after on 25 minutes, Dash beating Marco Warmt-Murray before nutmegging goalkeeper Alex Pearson to open the scoring. Cockburn’s best opening came the way of Rory Feely whose shot was tipped away by Kenny Ftynogiannis after running onto to David Araya’s through ball. With half time on the horizon Mandurah doubled their lead, the impressive Dash given far too much space to deliver a cross which Paschkewitz headed into the net.
Cockburn started brightly in the second half and should have cut the margin when awarded a penalty which Marc Anthony shot weakly into the arms of Ftynogiannis. Michael Grigo tried to lift his side with a good effort from outside the 18-yard box, then Wesley Britz had a shot saved. With Cockburn pushing high up the pitch there were plenty of opportunities for Mandurah to increase their lead. New signing Garin Collins was sent one-on-one with Pearson but a heavy touch saw the opportunity vanish. In the end it mattered little as Mandurah returned to the winners list for the first time in six weeks whereas Cockburn remain rooted to last place.
FLOREAT ON THE RISE (with Tim Lefort, Football West)
Floreat Athena continued their resurgence with a comfortable 3-0 victory over a disappointing Bayswater City at Litis Stadium. First half goals from Mark Pritchard, Liam Boland and Michael Van Dongen made it back-to-back wins for Floreat, who moves four points clear of last place. “We got the first goal and just got the momentum after that,” said Floreat assistant coach Taki Nicolaides. “That’s two (clean sheets) in a row now and that’s one thing we’re always looking for … our performances haven’t been the best up until the last couple of weeks but we’re pushing forward and just trying to get a bit of momentum now.”
Floreat started well and posted the opening goal after 12 minutes via Pritchard’s free kick which took a deflection to leave goalkeeper Gianni Papalia helpless. Bayswater almost levelled from a set piece of their own, George Tchami’s powerful header forcing Alex Dunn to get down smartly to save. Damien Catalano blazed over before Kailo Karpeh steered wide with only the ‘keeper to beat as the visiting team began to spark. Karpeh had a chance to make amends soon after but fired high from an acute angle.
Bayswater were made to rue missed chances when Boland put the hosts two-nil up on the half-hour, the striker finishing off a neat move with a low drive into the bottom corner from just inside the 18-yard box. At the other end Karpeh’s low strike was defected behind for a corner, before Pritchard sent a half volley from 18-metres just over for Floreat. But the hosts didn’t have to wait much longer to finish the contest, Michael Van Dongen pouncing on some indecisive defending to stab in from close-range.
Papalia opened the second half by blocking a shot from Boland, who was further frustrated soon after when his effort from point-blank range was deflected over the bar for a corner. Gustavo Maralunda’s forced a fine save from Dunn after 63 minutes, before Boland and team mate Daniel Trevisiol sent successive shots high. Another attempt by Maralunda was deflected behind for a corner which was half cleared to Cisco Jorquera whose sweet long-range volley was straight at Dunn. Floreat substitute Miki Vujacic had a chance to put some icing on the cake but his late free-kick flew just over.
PERTH NARROW THE GAP ON BALCATTA
Midfielder Vlad Naumovski had given Perth SC all three points by scoring on the hour to see off Armadale 1-0 at Alfred Skeet Oval. The win moves Perth to within two points of league leaders Balcatta, only a week out from the two clubs meeting at Dorrien Gardens. “It was definitely a battle out there today. The first half they kept the ball really well and they had a few chances that they couldn’t convert,” said Naumovski, struck the winning goal on the hour. “The second half we played better and got the goal. It’s great to score but it’s great for the team to get another win and keep the pressure on the league leaders.”
The early signs were encouraging for Armadale with James Robinson and Paul Lloyd unlocking the visitors defence on several occasions. But it wasn’t until the half hour that the game really came to life when James Robinson slipped the ball into the path of Parys Okai whose shot flashed past the far post. Perth returned fire two minutes later with Dom De Felice’s first time effort drifted just over the crossbar after Jason Dos Santos’s cross was only partially cleared. The loss of Dos Santos to a serious knee injury delivered the visitors a massive just before half time. Tom Robison almost snatched Armadale the lead moments later but his diving header from a Craig Young cross was wide of the target.
Perth’s positive start to the second period was rewarded on the hour when David Onoforo’s effort was blocked by goalkeeper Neil Young, Robbie Sciascia crashed the follow up into the post with the ball rebounding kindly for the winger who squared for Naumovski to fire into the net. An unmarked Tom Robinson should have done better than head straight at Devon Spence ten minutes later from a Okai cross. Armadale wasted another chance to draw level in the 86th minute with Spence standing up to Tom Robinson after he’d been played in by Okai. The hosts’ final chance of salvaging the afternoon came four minutes later when Tom Robinson’s angled strike was saved low at the near post by Spence.
Perth coach Ronnie Campbell conceded was delighted with his teams fighting spirit. “We knew it would be a hard game today and Armadale were the better team in the first half … we were lucky to be 0-0 at half time. But we improved in the second half and got the all-important goal which is great,” said Campbell. “It was good to see young Vlad pop up with the winner - we’re playing him out of position really, but he’s been scoring for us regularly and I was delighted for him today. We had to defend strongly, especially near the end, and our back five were again outstanding with another clean sheet.”
MAKECH IGNITES INGLEWOOD (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
Ndumba Makeche produced a three-goal man-of-the-match performance to orchestrate Inglewood United a 4-1 victory over Western Knights at Nash Field. Inglewood entered the break three goals the better thanks to Rory Grant’s early penalty conversion which was followed by a double by Makeche, who completed his hat-trick nine minutes into the second period. Daniel Trim struck the hosts a late consolation but it was scant reward for a Knights side than has lost two on the run.
The game started at a terrific tempo with both sides moving the ball swiftly across the small surface. The first chance on goal had Trim hit the post with a diving header from 9-metres. Inglewood took the ball straight down the other end where goalkeeper Frazer Siddall’s foul on Makeche earned the visitors a penalty, which Grant put in the net at the second attempt after Siddall blocked his initial shot. Grant should have doubled his teams’ lead ten minutes later when Makeche was again brought down by Siddall, who this time palmed away the striker’s spot kick.
Inglewood didn’t have to wait too much longer for their second goal, Makeche picking the ball up wide on the left before audaciously back heeling through his markers legs and curling a sublime effort into the roof off the net. The margin blew out to three goals on the stroke of half time when Makeche pounced on a loose ball to tap into an open net after James Sammut’s shot on the run. For all their possession the Knights created very little in the opening half but would have pulled a goal back before the break if not for Oliver Taseski, who denied Garth Lecky and James Morgan in quick succession.
Makeche put the game to bed with the first real attempt on goal of the second period, the lively attacker breaking the offside trap before applying an accomplished finish off the post to complete his hat-trick. Trim lofted a bobbling effort narrowly over the bar before Cormac Dawson’s shot from a tight angle went narrowly wide as the Knights started to find their feet. Makeche could have had a fourth but shot into the side netting having rounded the ‘keeper. The Knights improved second half performance was rewarded three minutes into stoppage time when Trim glanced into the net from a long throw in.
SORRENTO DOWN TEN-MAN JOONDALUP (with Michael Bate, Football West)
Sorrento ended the weekend in fifth place courtesy of last night’s 3-0 defeat of northern neighbours ECU Joondalup at Percy Doyle Reserve. The teams went into half time as they’d started, however, the balance tipped in the Gulls favour three minutes after the turnaround when Joondalup defender Mark Tebbutt was issued his marching order. Adam Luca rubbed salt into the wound by scoring Sorrento’s opener a minute later with David Foster and Shaun Timmins adding to the tally to secure what was in the end a comfortable victory.
In typical derby fashion, the early exchanges were played at high tempo with neither side settling on the ball long enough to create a genuine shot on goal. The first strike on target came in the 20th minute when Timmins’ effort from the edge of the 18-yard box was easily saved by Andy Banks. There was further activity in the Joondalup goalmouth three minutes later Banks moved sharply to keep out Fosters’ near post header from a Luca corner. A minute later Daryl Platten rose highest at the back post to meet another corner from Luca only to see his effort cleared off the line.
Sorrento captain Todd Harnwell fired narrowly wide of the far post with an acrobatic volley on the turn after a fine move involving Platten and Brodie Martin. At the other end of the pitch a clever ball by Jordan Withey played Ryan McDarby in but the young right back’s curling effort flew past the post. There was no let up from either team as half time drew nearer. Luca sent a free kick over the crossbar, much to the annoyance of coach Paul Price, before Ian McMurray was denied by the flag and Jon Higgins’ curling shot was held by Curtis Aspden.
The second half had been underway three minutes when Tebbutt earned his second yellow card for hauling down Ryan Pearson as drive towards the penalty area. Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Luca curled the resulting free kick over the defensive wall and into the back of the net. Jonathan Stynes’ went close to equalising but his long-range attempt was tipped over by Aspden. Sorrento should have gone two-up but Platten’s weak effort was blocked by Banks, Timmins fired into the post and Platten’s follow-up was cleared off the line by a defender.
Foster showed his team mates how it’s done in the 78th minute by heading in Pearson’s inch perfect cross at the back post. Todd Harnwell should have sealed the win when Foster put him in through one-on-one with Banks only for the Joondalup custodian to come out on top with a fine save. There was only two minutes left when the home team found the net for a third time with Timmins arriving late in the area to tap in Todd Harnwell’s cutback from the line.
NTC STRETCH BALCATTA BUT REMAIN POINTLESS (with Elle Mitaros, Football West)
Balcatta came from behind to defeat the National Training Centre 4-3 in an exciting encounter at Grindleford Reserve. Young striker Ivan Skorich scored the opening goal of the match by tapping over goalkeeper Jason Saldaris in the 18th minute. Balcatta’s attacking force surged ten minutes later with the end result of a goal to Luke Palmateer. The NTC were playing safe but fluid football when Sahr Musa slid an accurate through ball to Reece Vittiglia whose shot was straight at Saldaris. Balcatta entered the break in front after Ashley Rosindale caught ‘keeper Tim Doyle off-guard with a curling shot into the net from an acute angle.
The second half began with the NTC on the attack, Sam Mitchinson finding the net four minutes in with Skorich doing likewise sixty seconds later. Doyle courageously stopped two attempts on goals from danger man Rosindale as Balcatta sought to restore parity. It was third time lucky for Rosindale when he converted from the penalty spot after being brought down in a one-on-one with the ‘keeper. Christopher Thackray miraculously avoided a yellow card when he brought down Musa in a headlock on the hour. Three minutes later Daniel Niederberger fired into the net Balcattra’s fourth, and the games deciding goal.
NO GOALS AS SWAN DRAW WITH DIANELLA
The top of the table Division One showdown between Swan United and Dianella White Eagles ended with honours even in a scoreless draw at the Swan Italian Club. The first chance of a tight opening period came after 20 minutes when Adam Pygrum and Tom Shepheard combined to set up John Monterosso but Matt Battigelli bravely saved at his feet. A Rory Hollingham cross to the back post was headed wide by Shepheard not long after, while just before the break Brendan Knox’s powerful shot was cleared off the line by Aaron Mayo.
That same pattern flowed through into the second half, John Monterosso blazing wide after being sent clear and later the same player had his shot cleared off the line by Ognjen Kotur. Dianella went close to stealing the game with ten minutes left when Jimmy Nelson volleyed past Daniel Agudelo only for his shot to smack into the crossbar and Byron Allen was unable to convert the rebound at close range. The day ended on a sour note for Swan with the dismissal of veteran defender Rory Mouttet for a second yellow card.
MORLEY JOIN THE LEADERS
Morley Windmills are one of four teams joined together at the top of the Division One leaderboard after coming from behind to defeat Shamrock Rovers 2-1 this afternoon at Harold Rossiter Reserve. At the completion of round three goal difference is all that separates Swan United, Dianella White Eagles, Wanneroo City and Morley, who each have seven points from their first three games of the season. Shamrock, although seventh, remain in hot pursuit and only three points off the pace.
The game was given a crackerjack start with Shamrock taking the lead after only 2 minutes, Ian Stack blasting past goalkeeper Steve Grant from the penalty spot following a trip on Cathal Quinn. Morley needed only four minutes before finding a reply Mark Walsh heading past the ‘keeper after Joe Woodin’s looping free kick was nodded down by Nick Davies. As it turned out, the deciding goal arrived in the 12th minute via Luke O’Neill whose stunning free kick from 25-metres flashed past the defensive wall and Eamon Barnes on its way into the top corner.
Morley pushed on and dominated the remainder of the half, however, despite several good opening being created they were unable to find the decisive touch in the final third. The second period was a different story with Shamrock throwing everything they had at the visiting team in an attempt to draw level. And they would have done so had it not been for Walsh and Davies who worked tirelessly to keep Shamrock’s strikers at bay.
CHAPPELL FIRES BUNBURY TO VICTORY
Neil Chappell scored all three goals in Bunbury Forum Force’s 3-0 defeat of Ashfield on their visit to WesTrac Stadium. The win puts Bunbury into fifth place but only a single point off top spot on a very congested Division One table. The home team entered the break one-up after Olivier McGee’s through ball released Chappell who made no mistake beating the ‘keeper on 32 minutes.
Bunbury’s lead was doubled just after the hour, Chappell converting from the penalty spot after being brought down by a defender. The game was made safe on 79 minutes when McGee played down the flank for Rory Binnie, he slipped a pass through for Chappell who held his nerve to complete his hat-trick, much to the delight of the local supporters.
BOWMAN DOUBLE GETS WANNEROO THE WIN
Craig Bowman found the net twice to secure Wanneroo City a 2-0 win over Forrestfield United at Kingsway Sporting Complex. The home side hit the ground running and could have been a couple of goals the better had Brian Cairney and David Herety been able to make more of one-on-one opportunities with goalkeeper Stuart Delgarno. Bowman found a way through on the half hour by heading a Guy McDonald corner into the top corner of the net from 8-metres.
The margin was doubled in the 59th minute when Guy McDonald returned a partial clearance back into the danger zone where Bowman’s near post header snuck past the ‘keeper. Substitute Dean Timmings hit the post with a low attempt, the ball rebounding to Brad McDonald whose shot from the edge of the 18-yard box was straight at Delgarno. Bowman was denied his hat-trick by the busy Forrestfield ‘keeper who came out trumps in a second one-on-one with Herety. The loss continues Forrestfield’s poor start to the new season, the eastern corridor club slumping to eighth on the table with one win from three starts.
FULL POINTS TO ROCKINGHAM
Rockingham City collected maximum points for the first time this season by downing Canning City 3-1 at Burrendah Reserve. The visitors, who had drawn their first two games of the season, went ahead on 21 minutes when a cross from the right by Fraser Marr was headed in at the back post by Darren Lawler. Canning hit back twelve minutes later though Blake Readwin, and although both team had further chances they had to be content to enter the break on level terms.
Canning toiled hard in the second half before Rockingham regained the lead on 76 minutes, Irish import Craig Tone bundling the ball in at close range from David Clark’s cross. The points were secured in the final minute when Marr’s free kick was brilliantly volleyed in by Clark at the back post. “It wasn’t a classic but we’ll take the three points,” said Rockingham coach Steve Robinson after the final whistle. “We had to battle all game, and both sides had chances, but at the end of the day it’s a win and we can build on this for next week.”
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
The pick of round ten of the Premier League action is the showdown between Western Knights and Inglewood United at Nash Field (3.00pm). The Knights suffered their first loss of the regular season last time out and defender Duncan Hind says his team are ready to move on from that drubbing at Dorrien Gardens. “Last week was a bad day at the office … it was a very out of character performance from us,” said Hind, who will be vital to the Knights chances on Saturday. “Inglewood have found some form and scoring a number of goals so our defence will need to pick ourselves back up and be on our game.” Simon Versaico comes back in from injury, however, Stuart Montgomery and Stuart Ferguson out through suspension.
Inglewood are one of the competitions’ form sides, scoring nine goals in the past fortnight with back-to-back wins over Stirling Lions and Armadale. “It was a good win last week (against Armadale), we put our chances away and that's what had let us down in earlier weeks,” said midfielder Paul Dugdale. “The Knights are a quality team, it will be a great test for us to see where we are at. We all believe that our position in the league is a true reflection of the quality we have at the club, and I’m confident that with the players we have we can go on and win the game.” Brendan Craig faces a late fitness test but otherwise Inglewood are at full strength.
The round starts on Friday with the northern suburbs derby between Sorrento and ECU Joondalup at Percy Doyle Reserve (6.30pm). Sorrento have shown some good form of late and the experience of brothers Jamie and Todd Harnwell plus goalkeeper Curtis Aspden will be vital as they continue to push up the table. By contrast Joondalup are a team in free fall, winless from their past five outings. Captain Dale McCulloch has served suspension and is likely to go straight back into the starting eleven where Charlie Comyn-Platt and Mark Tebbutt have big roles to play.
Floreat Athena goes looking for back-to-back wins when Bayswater City visits Litis Stadium (3.00pm). Ante Kovacevic and Julian Madaschi hold the key for Floreat in a defensive sense as Phil Arnold and Liam Boland lead the search for goals. Bayswater have not played competitively for a fortnight and will need Gustavo Marulanda and George Tchami to be in peak form. Anthony McStea has recovered from a knee injury, however, Cesar Gonzalez is out through suspension.
There are three very important points on the line at Dalmatinac Park where Cockburn City hosts Mandurah City (3.00pm). Cockburn coach Tony Castiello is toying with bringing striker Rory Feely back into the line-up following injury, however, goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic and midfield workhorse could miss the game for that very reason. Mandurah have not won in six weeks and need Jeff Bright and Matt Stares to be sparking on an afternoon when Robbie Hamm (suspended) out missing.
Perth SC are expected to extend their unbeaten run when they visit Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval (3.00pm). Jason Dos Santos and David Onoforo scored three apiece last time out to jump Ronnie Campbell’s team up into second position, something that has been achieved only courtesy of Shaun Kilkelly’s defensive leadership. Armadale’s hopes of chalking up their first home win over Perth received a major boost with the return of striker James Robinson. Captain Scott McDonald and on loan goalkeeper Neil Young need to on their toes for the Reds to bring down this week’s opponent.
DIVISION ONE PREVIEW
There are some very tasty match-ups in this weekend's third round of the new Division One season. Highlighting the six games is the top of the table showdown between Swan United and Dianella White Eagles at the Swan Italian Club. Each has scored freely in the opening fortnight of competition and will be pulling out all the stops of maintain their 100% win record. Dianella player maker Andreas Theodosiades will miss the game with a hamstring injury, likewise Swan’s Michael Tronchin who is struggling with a knee problem.
Harold Rossiter Park has the all-important clash between Shamrock Rovers and Morley Windmills. Neither has conceded in their first 180 minutes of league football to occupy positions three and fourth with very similar records. “It’s going to be a really tough game,” said Morley’s Andy O’Neill. “Shamrock have assembled a good squad and they are a very hard working side. But we have started the season nicely, got a good pre-season under our belt and are more than ready for the weekends game.”
Wanneroo City and Forrestfield United but can put themselves amongst the leaders by claiming the points at Kingsway Sporting Complex. Only victory will suffice for Bunbury Forum Force when they host Ashfield, who are scratching around for their first points of the winter. Canning City will need to tighten their defence considerably if they're to collect so much as a point at home against an as yet unbeaten Rockingham City. All five Division One games take place on Saturday, kicking off at 3.00pm.
GLORY WOMEN STRIKER KERR WANTS TO PLAY AT WORLD CUP
Sam Kerr can complete her stunning rise by stepping out for Australia at the upcoming Women’s World Cup, just five years after taking up the world game. "Hopefully I can make it (to the World Cup) and then get on and get some time and maybe score," 17-year old Kerr told Braden Quartermaine of the 'Sunday Times' newspaper. "There's never any guarantees, but I had a good camp last camp, so hopefully I've done enough."
Selection for the Women's World Cup would cap a remarkable journey for the Perth Glory striker, who played Australian Rules before switching to the round ball code at the insistence of her family. "My Dad and my brother thought it (AFL) was getting too rough so they made me move and play a different sport. Soccer was the closest thing, so I changed to soccer," Kerr explained. "I didn't want to, but I got used to it after a while."
It apparent from very early on that Kerr had something very special to offer football. In her first season with Western Knights she gained State under-15 honours and within two years had represented Australian at under-17 level. Selected in the inaugural Glory Women squad, Kerr made her senior international debut at the age of 15 against Italy in early 2009 and a few weeks later was voted the W-League Players’ Player of the Year.
Having fallen in love with the world game, Kerr admits it was only after playing for the Young Matilda’s that she really began taking football seriously. "I guess when I went away with my first national team, the under-17s, I started to think about it and then after the Women's World Cup (in 2007) when they did well, I thought 'I want to play in a World Cup one day'," commented the striker.
Kerr's football fairy tale continued at last year's Asian Cup where she scored for Australia in the final against North Korea, which the Matildas eventually won 5-4 in a penalty shootout. "It was exciting just to be there and be selected in the team and to get a starting position in the team and then when I scored it was just overwhelming," commented Kerr, who has now represented the Matilda’s on nine occasions.
Wearing the green and gold of Australia against the best players in the world is the greatest honour possible for Kerr. "The opportunity I got to go away with all the girls and travel is great," she added. "To do such big things, like win an Asian Cup and celebrate it all together is probably the best thing. And just the people you meet and the friendships I guess. Playing against people from other countries is such a bigger buzz."
HUGHES SIGNS ON FOR GLORY
Perth Glory have unveiled box-to-box midfielder Adam Hughes as their latest signing. Hughes, who played the past couple of seasons at Adelaide United, is due to arrive in Perth this weekend ahead of the clubs' pre-season training which commences the first week of May. "Ian Ferguson is rebuilding this squad with a lot of quality signings which is a real positive," said Hughes. "Obviously the results were not great last season so we need to work hard in the pre-season and work hard as a team to climb back up the ladder."
Hughes, 28, becomes the seventh player signed by Ferguson over the off-season. "Adam brings strength to the midfield, something I feel we missed last season," coach Ian Ferguson said. "He's big and aggressive, he'll bring a bit of bite to our team and he's a winner. Adam is also a goal scorer, highlighted by the 13 goals he scored when used as a box-to-box midfielder in Ireland."
Hughes commenced his national league career in 2002 at Newcastle United and played two seasons with Wollongong Wolves before venturing overseas. He made six appearances during a short stay with English side Doncaster Rovers before joining Irish club Sligo Rovers where he played 66 games across two seasons and was selected in the leagues' 2007 Team of the Year. In mid-2008 Hughes moved to Drogheda United, playing 29 times and scoring against Dynamo Kiev in the European Champions League.
PERTH A CLASS ABOVE KINGSWAY
Perth SC were rarely troubled in despatching Sunday League side Kingsway Olympic 6-0 under lights this evening at Kingsway Sporting Complex. An own goal plus dead ball finishes by Adam Bachiller and Dean Apelgren gave the Blues a handy three goal cushion at the break with David Onoforo adding their fourth before Vlad Naumovski put the icing on the cake with a double off the bench. It was the second time in five days Perth had piled on six goals, following on from their 6-1 league defeat of Western Knights.
Perth hit the ground running with Matt Danskin and Robbie Sciascia causing the home defence no end of trouble with some darting runs out wide. The Blues opening goal came about through Bachiller, who charged deep down the left before whipping in a cross which Kingsway defender Steve Roche had the misfortune of turning past his own goalkeeper as he attempted to concede a corner.
Bachiller doubled his teams’ lead by superbly curling a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box around the defensive wall and inside the near post. A few minutes later the margin became three goals when from a near identical position Apelgren swung another free kick past the wall and inside the far post. The gap at half time could have been greater had it not been for Kingsway’s well executed offside trap which foiled on several occasions both Jason Dos Santos and Onoforo.
Kingsway came into the game more after the break, Sota Iwasaki and Elliott Rose stepping up to the challenge with some promising crosses only to have Perth make the clearance before any real danger presented. Danny Trandos’ foul on Dos Santos paved the way for Onoforo to tuck in the visitors’ next goal from the penalty spot. Trandos went close to cutting the deficit when his free kick from 22-metres missed the target by the narrowest of margins as Kingsway continued to plug away.
Entering the final stages it was Perth who found they had more left in the tank but Danskin, Onoforo and Dos Santos were unable to convert when chances came their way. Onoforo created their fifth goal, playing down the right for Vlad Naumovski who outpaced his marker to drill a low shot across ‘keeper Gary Kent and into the bottom corner. Naumovski completed the route by slotting past the ‘keeper for a second time after getting on the end of Craig Simpson’s pass.
LOWRY OPEN TO BLADES OFFERS
Sheffield United's on-loan Shane Lowry has hinted he could stay with the club even if they are relegated. Lowry plans to discuss his future with Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier in the off-season and isn't ruling out playing in League One. "I'm still under contract at Villa so I've got to sit down with them and also the gaffer (Micky Adams) here. But I haven't ruled it out, not at all," Lowry told the 'Sheffield Star'. "I've not got a bad word to say about Villa but, obviously, if I'm not part of the plans there then I don't want to stick around the reserves."
Lowry is no stranger to England’s third tier having helped Leeds United gain promotion to the Championship twelve months ago. "I've played in League One before with Leeds so I know what it's like," added Lowry. "Sheffield United is still a massive club and it’s one which, in my opinion, really deserves to be in the Premier League let alone anywhere else. There’s still a chance we can stay up but even if we don’t then it will still be a massive club. And, if we do go down, then I’m sure we’d be among the favourites to go straight back-up."
CONFIDENT WILLIAMS LOOKS AHEAD
Rhys Williams is confident Middlesbrough will have a much more successful campaign next season as Tony Mowbray continues to put his stamp on the squad. The Socceroo has been impressed by his new manager's first few months in charge and says there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future. "If we had three or four more wins this season we'd be up there challenging for promotion," Williams told mfc.co.uk. "I know that's all ifs and but next year will be a big season for us. The manager will be able to bring his own players in. With Tony Mowbray in charge, I think we've got a massive chance."
Williams was rested for the weekend's win at Hull City and felt the benefits when he returned to the side for the victory against Coventry City on Monday. "The rest on Saturday did me the world of good," he said. "I just sat at home with my feet up and watched the scores come in! I was pleased for Scotty (fellow Australian international Scott McDonald) getting a hat-trick and it shows that on our day we can beat anyone and we should be looking up and not down the table."
After playing his last few games in midfield, 22-year old Williams returned to a centre-back role against the Sky Blues. Many felt the visitors' opening goal should have been disallowed, but Williams is refreshingly honest about what happened after committing himself too early in the build-up. "I focus on my own mistake - I shouldn't have gone to ground, I should have stayed up and faced them up. Some people are saying it was offside, but it's gone in," he said.
Middlesbrough equalised through Julio Arca but left it until the very end to clinch the three points courtesy of Tarmo Kink's delightful chip. "I think we just do it for the fans - they love it!," Williams said of the late winner. "They used to leave before the end to miss the traffic but now they stay till the end now to watch us score in the last few minutes. The support has always been very good but now they believe in us all the way till the end … we've shown good character to keep going to the 90-plus minutes."
GULLS GLIDE INTO THIRD ROUND (courtesy Sorrento)
Sorrento progressed to the last eight of the State League Cup with a comfortable 4-0 win over Melville City at Percy Doyle Reserve. David Foster set the Gulls on the road to victory with a first half double that was interrupted by Jamie Harnwell’s first goal on home soil since re-joining to the northern suburbs club. Melville worked tirelessly to get back in the game only to have substitute Dejan Gurovski put away Sorrento’s fourth goal midway through the second half.
The home side asserted themselves from the outset and in the 2nd minute Foster converted that onto the scoreboard by firing in from 10-metres after receiving a low centring pass from Ryan Pearson on the left. Melville went within inches of equalising ten minutes later when Sasa Slavujevic’s defence splitting pass released Andrew Jennings whose shot beat Curtis Aspden but cannoned off the junction of crossbar and post.
24 minutes were on the clock when Jamie Harnwell doubled his teams’ lead, the veteran defender pouncing on a loose ball some 20-metres out from where he drilled low and beyond the reach of an out-stretched Andrew Barrett. Only another minute had passed when Brodie Martin’s delivery from the right was collected by Foster who, in one smooth motion, controlled and volleyed the ball into the net.
The first shot of the second period came on 52 minutes when Slavujevic angled the ball towards the bottom corner only for Aspden to keep it out with a diving save. Three minutes later Barrett brilliantly tipped Todd Harnwell’s volley away from the top corner. Sorrento’s fourth goal arrived in the 65th minute via a Shaun Timmins corner which Gurovski headed into the net. With the result now beyond doubt the tempo dropped off with no further addition to the scoring.
SHAMROCK SNEAK OVER THE LINE
Alan O’Mahoney scored deep in stoppage time to snatch Shamrock Rovers a 2-1 victory over Dianella White Eagles in this afternoon’s State League Cup tie at Dianella Reserve. In an entertaining game the visitors scored in the final minute of the first half through Barry Mulligan only for Sotiris Theodosiades to bring the teams level in the opening minute of the second period. “I think both ‘keepers kept their respective teams in the game with some great saves. We really made it hard for ourselves in the end, but I’m happy with the win,” said Shamrock coach Paul McCue. “We got a bit of luck with the winner, but it was going to be a goal like that won it for either side, I’m just happy it came our way.”
Shamrock came out firing with Ian Stack flashing just wide from 15-metres before Nick Carroll’s long range attempt was saved low by Matt Battigelli. Andreas Theodosiades fashioned the hosts first opening when he got down the right and crossed for Ognjen Radovic whose shot on the turn was the wrong side of the post. Carroll squandered a great chance in the 12th minute when he rounded Battigelli but a poor touch took him wide, and although his cross found Stack he blazed high from 10-metres. The visitors’ momentum was broken four minutes later when Simon King limped out of the action injured.
Dianella wasted little time in asserting themselves, Sotiris Theodosiades outpaced Brooks and crossed in the direction of Dhamon Kalamaris whose tidy flick brought a good save from Eamon Barnes. Byron Allen then got past a trio of defenders but his shot came back off the crossbar, then Barnes came to the rescue with a superb save from Sotiris Theodosiades’ 18-metre free kick. Dianella suffered a major setback when influential midfielder Andreas Theodosiades was carried off with a hamstring injury. Half time was on the horizon when Carroll’s centred was drilled into the net by Mulligan from the edge of the 18-yard box.
The second half was just 36 seconds old when Sotiris Theodosiades twisted and turned his way past four opponents before rifling into the top corner from 18-metres to restore parity. Chances presented either end of the park as the two combatants sought the lead. Carroll’s lob from 11-metres was superbly tipped over by a full-stretch Battigelli, then Allen was sent through on goal only to be thwarted by Barnes. Ross Cosgrave’s powerful shot crashed off the bar, while down the other end Allen smacked the ball against the base of the post before it was scrambled away by the Shamrock defence.
Both ‘keepers stepped up to the challenge as the clock ticked down. Battigelli denied Cosgrave on 83 minutes before Barnes superbly kept out substitute Emmanual Yanga’s snap shot. It was Battigelli who was the star late on for Dianella, saving shots from John Kearney and Cosgrave in quick succession. The game was settled four minutes into stoppage time when Kearney’s free kick from the left struck the post and rebounded to O’Mahoney who hardly knew what happened as the ball rolled agonisingly over the line to break Dianella’s hearts.
MANDURAH HOLD OUT TO DEFEAT ROCKINGHAM (with Jordan McArdle, Football West)
Mandurah City claimed victory from a fiery local derby with Rockingham City by 2-1 on a windy afternoon at Lark Hill Sportsplex. Darren Broxton opened the Dolphins account minutes out from half time with Jake Loreto doubling their advantage early in the second period. A penalty converted by Jay Bonser gave Rockingham a glimmer of hope but in the end it all proved too much for a gallant home side. “I thought the boys showed a lot of character,” Mandurah coach Mike Brazil said. “A month ago we probably would have thrown it away. Full credit to Rockingham, they battled hard to the final whistle.”
The bulk of first half attacking was done by Mandurah who met strong resistance from the home defence. Jeff Bright was within centimetres of posting an opening goal when his blistering shot from outside the 18-yard box shaved the upright, while a sensational diving save by Craig Olejnik denied Graham Matthews the breakthrough. Rockingham were knocking the ball around nicely and appeared content to play on the counter attack. It took until the 43rd minute before Mandurah found the net via a superb free kick from Darren Broxton which curled into the net with the aid of the strong breeze.
Mandurah looked far more confident after the break and on 53 minutes Loreto netted a perfectly timed cross from Matthew Stares to make it two-nil. Rockingham were brought back into the game midway through the second half when Bonser sent Kenny Fyntogiannis the wrong way from the penalty spot following a controversial hand ball decision against Robbie Hamm, who was issued his marching orders for a second yellow card. The final twenty minutes belonged to Rockingham but the closest they’d come to equalising was a Darren Mathurine shot that rose over the crossbar.
BURTON SEES OFF COCKBURN (with David Cameron, Football West)
Steve Burton single-handedly guided Balcatta through to the next round of the State League Cup by scoring all four goals in his teams’ 4-2 defeat of Cockburn City at Grindleford Reserve. The visiting team simply had no answer for Burton, who constantly dropped into midfield to collect the ball and whose energetic runs into the 18-yard box caused no end of trouble.
The game was given a crackerjack start with both teams scoring inside the first 5 minutes. Spectators were still taking their seats when unmarked Michael Grigo received the ball at the back post and drilled past goalkeeper Lewis Italiano. Balcatta were undeterred and three minutes later Burton played a crisp series of passes with Ashley Rosindale to open up space and fire into far corner.
Cockburn should have regained the lead in the 26th minute when awarded a penalty kick, however, Johny Mirco’s spot kick was at a comfortable height for Italiano and he pushed it wide of the target. Balcatta picked up the pace and with some fluid movement of the ball threatened to unlock the Cockburn defence for a second time but a string of save by Dejan Aleksic saw the side enter the break on level terms.
Burton nabbed his second goal just after the restart when Mo Atak beat two defenders and cut the ball back for the striker to side foot into the net. Balcatta went further ahead on 65 minutes when Atak again found space in behind the defence and laid the ball off to the onrushing Burton, who completed his hat-trick with a gentle side foot. Cockburn suffered a further setback when young ‘keeper Aleksic was stretched from the field with a suspected broken cheek after a heavy clash of heads with Spence Harries.
To Cockburn’s credit they mounted a serious comeback and with three minutes left Mirco’s fierce shot was parried by Italiano the ball rebounding back to the attacker who waited for the defender to commit before slamming in to give his team a glimmer of hope. But it would be Burton that had the final say just three minutes later when, with Cockburn pushing forward in search of a winner, he was allowed time and space to pick his place in the back of the net.
GOSNELLS MAULED IN STIRLING (with Elle Mitaros, Football West)
Stirling Lions kept their State League Cup defence on course with a 7-2 thrashing of Gosnells City at Macedonia Park. Anthony Skorich scored twice in the first half along with Bobby Wilson and Jamie Watt before Ravi Kuppsamy pegged a goal back for Gosnells. Jamie De Abreu returned Stirling’s four-goal buffer but just minutes later that was again trimmed by an own goal by Jason Gavin. Phil O’Callaghan returned fire with Dean Evans marking his return from injury by scoring in stoppage time.
A positive start but Gosnells was undone after just 7 minutes when Skorich posted Stirling’s first goal of the afternoon. The home side then took complete control of the game as successive shots from Wilson then Watt were pushed away by goalkeeper Alan Dunlop. It was during the 27th minute that Wilson found his feet for Stirling’s second goal. Minutes later Dunlop charged too far out of his area, allowing Skorich to curl the ball around him and take the score to three-nil.
Stirling comprehensively pummelled the opposition just five minutes later when Dennis Galan put a through ball into Watt, who tapped into the bottom left hand corner. A questionable foul in the 40th minute gave Gosnells a kick just outside of the 18-yard box which Kuppasamy sent quickly into the back of the net, and bring the difference back to three goals at the end of 45 minutes.
The home side came out firing in the second half, controlling the speed and direction of the game. Evans played an accurate long ball to O’Callaghan but he shot wide while Scott Muirhead, Ludo Boi and Jamie Davis were also unable to find the net. It was left to substitute De Abreu to show his team mates how it’s done in the 65th minute. Gavin’s attempt to put the ball over the line six minutes later resulted only in the defender scoring Gosnells’ second goal of the afternoon.
Stirling soon resumed the attack, Evans weaving past a couple of defenders to go one-on-one with Dunlop but the midfielder’s shot was straight into ‘keeper’s hands. O’Callaghan added his named to the scorers in the 78th minute by tucking into the net during a crowded encounter inside the penalty area. Ten minutes later Evans bagged Stirling’s seventh and final goal of the game to send his team in the last eight of the competition.
LIGHTS OUT OVER KINGSWAY
There were red cards at Kingsway Reserve this evening where the glamour ANZAC Day fixture between Kingsway Olympic and Perth SC was abandoned without a ball being kicked. A big crowd was building for the second round State League Cup clash which pitted two of the local scenes giants from the 1980’s against each other. However, a floodlight failure during the reserve clash between Fremantle Spirit and -Perth led to both that and the first team game being called off. The game has hastily been re-scheduled for Kingsway Reserve this Wednesday, 27 April, kick off at 7.30pm.
BRAZIL LAMENTS DEFENSIVE LAPSES
Mandurah City’s inability to stay focused for the full 90 minutes has coach Mike Brazil scratching his head for answers. Not for the first time this season the Dolphins conceded in the closing stages on the weekend to Floreat Athena to lose for the fifth time this season. "If you go back over the last probably seven or eight weeks, we've conceded goals in the last two or three minutes of a lot of games," commented Brazil. "There are a lot of young boys out there who just can't concentrate for the full game."
Mandurah made a positive start to the regular season with two victories from their opening three games. However, the Dolphins have collected only two points from their six subsequent outings to drop down the league standings. "The bottom line is results don't lie" added Brazil. "We're just not good enough. We're defending well each week to a point but still saying that we're just not taking enough pressure off our defence." Mandurah can arrest their slide when they visit bottom side Cockburn City next weekend.
ARMADALE TAKE YOUNG ON LOAN
New Perth Glory signing Neil Young returned to the State League on Saturday in the unfamiliar colours of Armadale. Young, who played eleven years at Sorrento before entering the national league in 2009 with Newcastle Jets, has joined Armadale on loan to cover for regular shot-stopper Cyril Sharrock, who has been sidelined by a back injury. Unfortunately, Young was unable to prevent the Reds from going down to 4-1 to Inglewood on the weekend, a result which slips the eastern corridor club to third from bottom.
WEDNESDAY OFFER NEVILLE A SECOND CHANCE
Perth Glory defender Scott Neville has missed out on a possible contract with English Championship side Portsmouth despite impressing manager Steve Cotterill during a two-week trial. However, all is not lost for 22-year old Neville who has been invited into camp with the Australian youth teams and asked to try out with League One outfit Sheffield Wednesday. "I think Scott found the first week tougher than the second. He has a tremendous attitude and worked really hard but he's probably not quite ready for us right now," Cotterill told Neil Devey of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "I suggested he needs to drop down a level and play regular games before he could come back to a Championship club so he has gone to Sheffield Wednesday."
Cotterill feels Neville needs time to adapt to the football lifestyle in England. "He's athletic and a real diamond of a kid. We had a chat before he left and he said he had learned a lot from his experience here and I think he will get better," added Cotterill. "It's tough on lads coming to England and looking to break in straight away and he needs time to adapt. However, I didn't want to suck him in and lead him on by saying we'll give it a bit of time here and see how you do as that would have been unfair to him. Playing games elsewhere is more important to his development at this stage and we hope that happens at Sheffield."
WA CLAIMS THIRD AT U13 GIRLS NATIONALS
Western Australia excelled at last National Junior Championships with the State Under-13 Girls finishing third in Pool B. Coach Salv Todaro was thrilled with how his young side performed throughout the tournament in Canberra where they won twice in four games. “I’m extremely happy, the girls played nice football all week long,” he said. “It’s not about results, it’s about how they play and they really impressed with how they moved the ball out from the keeper, through midfield and to create chances in attack.
Promising defender Steffi Nadilo, who gained All-Stars selection, earned the praise of Todaro. “I’m really stoked for her, she had a really solid tournament at the back and was very composed on the ball for someone so young,” added the coach . “But in picking out Steffi, we had a number of great performers and it was a really solid team effort which was pleasing to see. They all had a great tournament from a WA perspective and the future looks bright.”
Western Australia took the honours in the Championships opening game by defeating Tasmania 2-1 through goals by Shauni Reid and Sarah Kenny. New South Wales made it two wins on the run by downing the girls from the west 3-0. Maddison Schofield found the net after 35minutes to get Western Australia over the line 1-0 against Victoria Country in their third group fixture. Queensland finished top of Pool B courtesy of Gabrielle Wheeler, whose stunning strike from the top of the penalty area saw off Western Australia 1-0.
KNIGHTS HIT FOR SIX AS ONOFORO AND DOS SANTOS RUN RIOT
David Onoforo and Jason Dos Santos grabbed a hat -trick each as Perth SC demolished Western Knights 6-1 at Dorrien Gardens. Glen Thomas pulled a goal back from the penalty spot but it was scant consolation for the visiting side who finished with nine men after the dismissals of Stuart Montgomery and Stuart Ferguson. "It's a fantastic result, once again I felt we played well - the two strikers scored a hat-trick which was fantastic, we were solid in defence and dominant in midfield," said Perth coach Ronnie Campbell, whose team is are now unbeaten in six games.
A quick opening had both teams build neatly through midfield only to be met by strong resistance from a couple of very well drilled defensive units. But on 21 minutes the Knights were caught out by Onoforo who , after taking possession on top of the 18-yard box, waltzed past David Annall and into the net via the inside of Fraser Siddall’s post. Onoforo was embroiled in controversy six minutes later following a heated exchange with James Morgan that led referee David Scragg to caution for both players.
Onoforo was at his brilliant best in the 36th minute, touching a long diagonal ball off for Dos Santos to drill first time past the out-stretched Siddall for the home teams’ second goal. The Knights day took a turn for the worse seven minutes later when Montgomery was issued his second yellow card - and an early shower - following a tussle with Antonio Naglieri. There was still time for Perth to add to their goal tally through an unmarked Dos Santos, whose downward header from a Matt Danskin cross gave Siddall no chance.
Perth were on a roll and five minutes after the turnaround Robbie Sciascia stroked disappointingly into the side netting with only the ‘keeper to beat. Only five more minutes passed before goal number four arrived with Onoforo firing into an empty net after Duncan Hind coughed the ball up to Sciascia, who brought Siddall out of position before squaring his captain. The Knights were given a faint glimmer of hope in the 59th minute when Adam Bachiller’s soft foul on Stuart Ferguson was punished by Thomas, who sent Devon Spence the wrong way from the penalty spot.
Had it not been for the heroics of Siddall then the margin would soon have returned to four goals, the Knights custodian making fine saves to thwart Trent Kay and Onoforo. Perth, however, were not to be denied and on 71 minutes Annall’s slip allowed Danksin to race away down the left and lure Siddall off his line before squaring for Onoforo, who rolled his third goal into an empty net. Onoforo could had had another but his shot on the turn was blocked by Siddall with Dean Apelgren placing high with the follow up.
Don Santos completed his hat-trick with three minutes of regulation time left, the striker latching onto Vlad Naumovski’s close range and tucking the ball past Siddall from an ever- narrowing angle. Dos Santos then shot his a curling shot too close to the ‘keeper as Perth continue their quest for goals. The Knights miserable day was capped when Ferguson received his marching orders for over-retaliating to a Dos Santos challenge. The game was in stoppage time when Siddall blocked another Onoforo shot with Dos Santos chipping the loose ball narrowly high.
TASESKI EARNS INGLEWOOD MAXIMUM POINTS (with Tim Lefort, Football West)
Inglewood United maintained their position in the top half of the table with a 4-1 drubbing of Armadale. If truth be told, the three-goal margin somewhat flattered the home side, who had goalkeeper Oliver Taseski made several important saves. "I think if Ollie Taseski doesn't save four one-on-ones in the first half, it's a different game," said Inglewood coach Shane Pryce. "We took our foot off the pedal (after going 2-0 ahead), we started doing things that we've spoken about that I don't want. We controlled the second half a bit more but for them I don't think the result was a true reflection of their game. They had a fair few shots so we've got stuff to work on."
Inglewood were quickly on the front foot and went ahead after just 6 minutes, Rory Grant flicking on an in-swinging corner for David McNally to poke in from close range. There was nothing Armadale’s on-loan goalkeeper Neil Young could do to prevent Inglewood doubling their advantage after 16 minutes when Grant’s stunning free kick from 18-metres found the top corner. Ten minutes later Ndumba Makeche steered the ball just wide after the impressive Ryan Clarke had put him clear. Armadale’s first clear chance arrived in the 31st minute, Ross Diamond slipping the ball through for Tom Robinson but Taseski was out quickly to smother at his feet.
Jason Goodwin saw his effort deflected behind for a corner as the visitors began to get more into the game and, from the resulting set-piece, Beattie volleyed over from 10-metres. Paul Lloyd was denied by Taseski after doing well to twist and create space for a shot inside the 18-yard box, then Craig Young was also frustrated by the Inglewood ‘keeper. With half-time seconds away Inglewood struck a killer blow with a simple but well-executed goal, Grant heading powerfully past Young from James Sammut’s right wing cross.
The second half was three minutes old when a foul on Dannie Richman earned Inglewood a free kick just outside the area from where Dugdale blasted into the underside of the bar with the ball ricocheting over the line. To their credit Armadale kept attacking and good chances came the way of both Goodwin and Robinson. Going in the other direction, Dugdale was denied by Neil Young before substitute David Perich fired just wide with only the ‘keeper to beat. The Reds consolation arrived in the 88 minute when Craig Young's flick set up Warren Beattie, whose spectacular bicycle kick proved too good even for Taseski.
MUIRHEAD LEADS STIRLING TO VICTORY
Stirling Lions returned to the winners list with a commanding 3-0 win over ECU Joondalup at Macedonia Park. In his final appearance for the club, Scott Muirhead scored twice for Stirling with the remainder coming from Phil O’Callaghan. “It’s been a long week for us, there has been a lot of soul searching but I’m really proud of the boys, they showed great character out there today,” said Stirling coach Paul Lincoln, whose team lost heavily at Inglewood last week. “We kept our shape well and I thought youngster James Davies was outstanding. He had a bad day at the office last week but he stood up today and I thought he was terrific.”
The large crowd need wait only 7 minutes for the first chance on goal which Anthony Skorich sent wide from 18-metres from a Jamie Watt lay off. Joondalup should have hit the front on 20 minutes but Corey Hugo brilliantly blocked John Thornley’s shot from 7-metres with Scott Blackmore putting the follow up wide. The visitors kept pushing and Charlie Comyn-Platt headed narrowly the wrong side of the post from a Jordan Withey corner. Slowly but surely Stirling re-established control and just after the hour half O’Callaghan placed wide, and six minutes later teenage defender Davies picked out Skorich, who headed over from the top of the 6-yard box.
A lively opening to the second half had Withey blaze high after being teed-up by Ian McMurray before Skorich’s header from point blank range was superbly saved by Andy Banks. The breakthrough came on 58 minutes when Muirhead cut inside Ross Anderson and brilliantly curled the ball into the top corner of Banks’ net for one of the goals of the season. In the minutes that followed Ryan McDarby and Scott Blackmore limped out of the game injured as coach Syd Amphlett tried to figure out how to get his team get back in the game.
The situation worsened for Joondalup in the 68th minute when Mark Tebbutt’s foul on Andy Brown led referee Michal Jasinski to point straight to the penalty spot, with O’Callaghan converting to add salt to his former clubs’ wound. Davies’ timed to perfection his tackle on McMurray after the big striker had broken free of the offside trap, ensuring Stirling’s lead would not be trimmed. Hugo was lucky to remain on the park in the 78th minute after he brought McMurray down on the edge of the 18-yard box, referee Jasinski deeming it only a yellow card offence much to the amazement of the Joondalup bench.
Joondalup took their game up a notch in the closing stages. Bobby Wilson blocked a shot on the turn by Thornley, who lashed the rebound wide, and a few minutes later an unmarked Jonathon Stynes blazed high from 6-metres after meeting a cross from Ross Anderson. Thornley’s snap flashed past Hugo but crashed into the bar with Scott Bushby firing the follow up wide. The game was well into stoppage time when Stirling hit on a counter attack through Denis Galan’s long ball for Muirhead who, with Joondalup appealing for offside, lobbed the on-coming ‘keeper for a 3-0 scoreline.
GULLS HIT CRUISING ALTITUDE (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
Sorrento were rarely troubled in accounting for an unfortunate Cockburn City 3-0 at Percy Doyle Reserve. Jason Mirco and David Foster put the Gulls in a comfortable position at the break with Todd Harnwell sealed victory midway through the second half. It was an afternoon when not a lot went right for Cockburn, who had Jason Godfrey sent off after 34 minutes before a spate of injuries left them with just nine men on the park at the final whistle.
The opening exchanges were tight as the two combatants wrestled for the upper hand. The only notable early chance had Marc Anthony curl over the crossbar after good work in the lead-up by Michael Grigo and Marc Anthony. The game was in desperate need of a goal and it came on 24 minutes when some lovely interplay inside the 18-yard box between Todd Harnwell and Jason Mirco saw the latter finish with aplomb to give Sorrento a one-nil lead.
Cockburn almost replied immediately, Anthony forcing a corner which Johny Mirco delivered into the area where Sam Carrello headed wide unopposed. Jamie Harnwell went close to doubling the hosts lead but his glancing header was cleared off the line in spectacular fashion. The Gulls faithful didn’t have to wait much longer though, Foster converting from the penalty spot after being hauled down by last defender Jason Godfrey, who was duly shown a straight red card.
Sorrento emerged from the interval focused on sealing out the game, but Todd Harnwell could only rattle the bar from another Jason Mirco cross. The visitors suffered a further setback ten minutes into the half when captain Adrian Webster was stretchered off with what looked to be a serious knee injury. Despite now being down to nine men, Cockburn continued the fight with both Johnny Mirco and Anthony mustering good efforts on goal.
Todd Harnwell made sure the points would remain with Sorrento in the 68th minute by taking the ball in a scramble and stroking it past goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic. Ryan Pearson came close to adding a fourth as he crashed an effort against the post as the away team rode their luck. A combination of wayward finishing and great work by Aleksic ensured there would be no further addition to the scoring, and Sorrento would get their season back on track.
FLOREAT FINALLY GET ON THE BOARD
Floreat Athena moved off the bottom of the Premier League table with this afternoon’s 1-0 victory over Mandurah City at Hyundai Stadium. The game looked destined to finish scoreless when Jarrad Smith struck to earn Floreat maximum points for the first time this season. “It was good to finally get our first win, and more importantly the three points,” commented Smith. “With the league being more evenly dispersed quality-wise and two teams being relegated, we are aware of the implications of being so low down the table at this stage of the season and we are 100% focused on rectifying that situation.”
There was an early scare for Floreat with goalkeeper Alex Dunn needing extensive treatment after falling heavily on his back while contesting a high ball with Jeff Bright. If truth be told, there were very few genuine chances on goal across the first half with the windy conditions playing havoc with the ball once in the air. Mandurah custodian Kenny Ftynogiannis produced a great double save late in the period, palming Callum O’Connell’s effort onto the post before blocking the follow-up from Liam Boland. Shortly after Michael Van Dongen’s vicious strike dipped over the bar but, despite Floreat being in the ascendancy, the teams entered the break all square.
Paul Van Dongen fizzled the ball wide of the target five minutes into the second period after Ftynogiannis mistimed a clearing punch and clattered into a teammate. Ftynogiannis breathed another sign of relief a few minutes later when another Paul Van Dongen shot came off the inside of the post. Bright came to the rescue with a goal line clearance to keep out a Mark Pritchard free kick as Mandurah rode their luck. The visitors persistence was rewarded in the 90th minute when substitute Daniel Trevisiol streamed forward on the counterattack before laying the ball into the path of O’Connell whose shot deflected kindly for Smith to direct it past Ftynogiannis.
GOSGROVE GIVES SHAMROCK FIRST WIN
Shamrock Rovers delivered a lesson in finishing when they defeated Bunbury Forum Force 3-0 at Harold Rossiter Reserve. Chances flowed freely for Bunbury early on but Michael Marten and Ashley Young placed wide while Oliver McGee headed too close to goalkeeper Paul Mullen. Darcy Cosgrove had luck on his side in the 24th minute when his long range strike looped up off a defender and over a stranded Ryan Montgomery to give the hosts a one-nil lead. Bunbury returned to the attack soon enough but were held at bay by ‘keeper Mullen and a well organised defence.
The second half continued in much the same fashion with the visiting team spurning numerous opportunities to equalise as Shamrock played on the counterattack. A defensive lapse in the 74th minute allowed Cosgrove to double his teams lead and turns the screws on their opponents. Ashley Young responded with a vicious shot that stung the gloves of Mullen, who then spectacularly kept Jordan Rispin’s header out of the top corner. Barry Mulligan bagged Shamrock a third goal in the 82nd minute, sealing their first win as a State League club.
THEODOSIADES STARS FOR RAMPANT DIANELLA
Dianella White Eagles made it two wins from as many starts by thumping a hapless Canning City 7-2 at Dianella Reserve. It was clear from the outset that Dianella had goals on their mind but it took until the half hour for Dhamon Kalamaris to post the first goal. Within a minute the margin had doubled with Byron Allen tapping in a simple goal while just before the break Sotiris Theodosiades further increased the lead courtesy of some poor defending.
With Jimmy Nelson and Ognjen Radonic running riot down the flanks, Dianella continued to hold sway into the second half. Sotiris Theodosiades tucked into the net for a second time then, with 65 minutes played, Joseph Ludo made it five-nil. Canning hit back with Emlyn Whetnall and Diego Garcia bringing some respectability into the scoreline. However, Dianella were by no means finished and in the final five minutes Allen bagged his second before Sotiris Theodosiades completed a deserved hat-trick.
ELSEWHERE IN DIVISION ONE
Swan United despatched local rivals Forrestfield United 6-2 at Hartfield Park to consolidate their spot at the top of the Division One table. Summer signing John Monterosso continued his blistering start to the season with a double along with Aaron Colli, while Tom Shepard and Trent Wood also got their names on the score sheet for the black and whites. Forrestfield striker Jamie Burns helped himself to a second half brace to take his season tally to three goals from two games.
Morley Windmills collected their first win of the new season by dumping Fremantle Spirit 6-0 at Wauhop Park. Luke O’Neill got the visiting team off to a flying start with Andy O’Neill doubling the margin with a classy finish in the 16th minute. A stunning Andy O’Neill half volley from 35-metres soared into the back of the net just before the half hour. In the space of four second half minutes Simon Wilson, Andy O’Neill and Jason Trpevski found the net to take the margin to six-goals.
Wanneroo City scored a valuable 1-0 win against Ashfield in a defensively dominant match at Ashfield Reserve. An unmarked David Herety tucked into the net at the back post to give Wanneroo the lead on the quarter hour. Ashfield stepped up a notch in the second half with Ian Griffiths forcing a good save from the goalkeeper while Mladen Kovacevic also threatened to open the hosts, however, Wanneroo defended in numbers of hold on for the points.
The points were shared at Lark Hill Sportsplex where Rockingham City and Gosnells City finished 2-2. Gosnells looked like running away with the game after Ravi Kuppasamy scored twice late in the first half to give the visitors a comfortable buffer. However, Danny Macklin hit back in the shadows of half time to give Rockingham hope of getting a result. Tommy Downes earned the home team their second point of the campaign with his 75th minute strike.
MADASCHI HELPS PORTOGRUARO TO A VALUABLE POINT
Adrian Madaschi played his part as relegation-threatened Portogruaro claimed a vital three points with a dramatic 2-1 win at Italian Serie B leaders Siena overnight. Portogruaro scored twice in the final two minutes of the game to claim a crucial win in their bid for survival. Madaschi, capped five times by Australia, put in a full shift in defence as his side fell behind after 83 minutes to a Francesco Caputo goal. However, Portogruaro struck back with Federico Gerardi levelling six minutes later before Emiliano Tarano netted an injury-time winner. The result takes Portogruaro to 40 points, but they remain in the bottom three in Italy's second tier, one point behind 19th placed Ascoli.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
The place to be this Saturday afternoon is the Dorrien Garden where long-time foes Perth SC and Western Knights renew acquaintances from 3.00pm. Perth are unbeaten in five games and coach Ronnie Campbell admits to having mixed feelings about facing the club he coached for a decade. “It’s the first time I’ve coached against the Knights, and to be honest I’m a little bit nervous,” he said. “I was there for 11 years and I’ve got a great deal of respect for the club. It should be a great game and we hope there is a big crowd on hand to watch it.”
Knights coach Carl Medica, who serves the final of his four-game banishment to the stands, is looking forward to the top of the table clash. “When Ronnie was in charge of the Knights he always emphasised the fact that Perth were the team to beat and the build-up leading into the game was intense .. funny how things work out,” commented Medica. “I have a huge amount of respect for Ronnie but come Saturday myself and Alex Christie will try to come up with a game plan which will hopefully bring Perth - and their new coach - unstuck.”
There’s another big game, albeit for a very different reason, at Percy Doyle Reserve where Sorrento host Cockburn City (3.00pm). Both sides came out of last weekend empty handed and victory is essential for each to remain in touch with the top five. The Gulls will be without hard-working midfielder David Price due to suspension but do have Adam Luca available again following time out injured. Dejan Aleksic and Jason Godfrey need to be at the top of their games if Cockburn are to win their first away game of the season.
The odds seem firmly stacked against Stirling Lions when ECU Joondalup visits Macedonia Park. (3.00pm). Stirling were humiliated at Inglewood last time out and coach Paul Lincoln will be without influential defender Scott Muirhead, who is trying his luck in Victoria, while Garreth O’Connor and Dean Evans remain sidelined by injury. Joondalup kept their first clean sheet of the season last week and harbour plans for another on Saturday. Suspension will prevent Dale McCulloch from taking to the field, but the northern suburbs outfit regain the services of Scott Blackmore.
Inglewood United go shooting for back-to-back wins when they host Armadale (3.00pm). Ndumba Makeche was one of the stand-outs in Inglewood’s four-goal defeat of Stirling Lions and his influence along with that of Dannie Richman and Ryan Clarke in midfield will be crucial to their chances. Armadale haven’t played competitively for a fortnight and will need Cyril Sharrock, Steve McDonald and Tom Robinson at their best to take anything out of the afternoon.
Floreat Athena will out to re-ignite their season when they visit Mandurah City (3.00pm). Without a win after six league outings, Floreat will look to Phil Arnold, James Isaia and Miki Vujacic for inspiration as they attempt to lift away from last place. Mandurah have taken just one point from their three home games to date and coach Mike Brazil is determined to turn that around. Jeff Bright, Ivan Zuvela and former Floreat attacker Rafael Insauralde are the Dolphins players to watch.
DIVISION ONE PREVIEW
This weekend’s round of Division One games is highlighted by a couple of blockbusters, the first of which has Forrestfield United up against Swan United at Hartfield Park. These teams each hit four goals on their way to victory last weekend and a similar tally is sure to guarantee three more points. Anthony Lyons is pushing to enter the first eleven at Forrestfield where Stuart Delgarno, Lewis Costley and John Hunter have been in good touch. Brendan Knox and Chris Marshall are back in contention for Swan, however, not all the news is good with niggling injuries putting Aaron Colli and Adam Pygrum in doubt.
Shamrock Rovers will have their depth put to the test when Bunbury Forum Force stops in at Harold Rossiter Reserve. Paudie O’Connor, Robbie Fanning, Gavin Mooney and Damian Smyth top Paul McCue’s list of players unavailable to which Irish import Barry Mulligan, who is battling injury, could also be added. Bunbury slammed in seven goals without reply in the opening round with Oliver McGee helping himself to a brace. New signings Ross Harvey and Mark Haslum along with Jarrod Mort have their work cut out to convincing Nigel Wilcox he should change a winning line-up.
Ashfield were disappointed not to take something from the opening day of the season and are out to make amends when they host Wanneroo City. Gosnells City head to Lark Hill Reserve confident of opening their season account against Rockingham City. Morley Windmills head out on the road to Wauhop Park where they face a Fremantle Spirit line-up focused on bouncing back from a seven-goal opening round loss. Dianella White Eagles are expected to make it back-to-back wins when Canning City visits Dianella Reserve. All six Division One games take place on Saturday, kicking off at 3.00pm.
JONES FINDS HIS FEET AFTER A SHAKY START
Derby County's on loan goalkeeper Brad Jones feels he is finding his feet after recording his first clean sheet for the club. 29-year old Jones helped to keep Championship leaders Queens Park Rangers at bay in Monday night's goalless draw at Loftus Road. It was the Socceroo's fourth appearance for the Rams since joining them on loan from Liverpool and he is now looking forward to the remaining four matches of the season.
Jones admits he was not at his best during his first four games for Derby, in which he conceded seven times. "Monday night was probably the best I've felt since I came to the club and the most solid that we've looked," he said. "I had kind of hoped I would have been able to come straight in and be back to where I wanted to be but it doesn't always work like that. In my first couple of games, there were a few things I wasn't happy with that you look back on and think, 'why was I doing that?'."
Against QPR, Jones produced an excellent save to tip over an audacious effort from Adel Taarabt during the first half. "I've played against him before and you've got to expect the unexpected," he said. "That's what that was – a shot with the outside of his foot from 20-odd yards. There are not too many players in the Championship who would have attempted it. But you've got to say that after that, he didn't do a lot. I thought we closed him down really well."
Jones is hoping his time spent with Derby will serve him well in the future – not just on his return to Liverpool but with the Australian national team too. "In a way, I will be sad to see the end of the season but I'm grateful to have got these games in," said the stopper, who currently has three caps to his name. "It's been good to have a run and, hopefully, if I can play well, I can maybe get rewarded with a few international games over the summer. The fact that I'm playing will definitely help."
Derby take on Burnley this weekend at Pride Park Stadium and Jones would love a repeat of the atmosphere created by the fans during last week's rousing 2-1 victory over Leeds United. "The atmosphere at Pride Park is second to none. I'd been there before I signed – I hadn't played there but I'd experienced it," he said. "That was a year or two ago and it was exactly the same. Every game, the fans come out and support the boys. They really get behind the team and that's massive – to go to a stadium where the crowd is rocking like it was the other night."
DIANELLA “HUNGRY AND DETERMINED”: BATTIGELLI
Dianella White Eagles captain Matt Battigelli is delighted by his teams’ sensational start to the new Division One season. Sotiris Theodosiades struck in stoppage time to earn Dianella a 2-1 victory on the opening day at Gosnells City, but it was the teams’ performance that pleased Battigelli most. “I was very proud of the boys. They showed immense heart and fight and to secure a very gutsy win over a tough Gosnells team,” he commented. “To see the hunger and determination from this young squad when a game gets tough was far more valuable than the three points in my opinion.”
Battigelli, 23, is tipping Dianella to surprise many people this season as they work towards a top flight return. “Mario (Theodosiades) is looking to build this team to win the league, and while it may not happen this year I can assure you he has his eyes set on winning it in the near future,” said Battigelli. “Our goal this year is to play great looking football and be hard to beat - I can almost guarantee we can deliver on those. Building towards a future title winning team is a realistic long-term goal with the talent we have at the club.”
The new season presents fresh opportunities for a young Dianella line-up under first year coach Mario Theodosiades, who last year guided the clubs’ reserve team to joint top alongside Bunbury Forum Force. “The team is shaping up to be very competitive,” commented Battigelli. “We have a great midfield that would be the envy of most teams, and with the recent signing of Stefan Smiljanic we have the ability to score a lot of goals. Our defence started off shaky but a couple of clean sheets in our last two games shows promise.”
There are several players in addition to Smiljanic that Battigelli expects will have a big influence on his teams’ season. “Brothers Andreas and Sotiris Theodosiades have been very impressive so far this year, they can change the tide of a game in an instant,” said the club captain. “Defender Simon Barber gives us a lot of stability with Ognjen Radonic and Jimmy Nelson giving us great options on the flanks and if they have good seasons then so will Dianella.”
Like many, Battigelli expects little to separate the leaders come the end of this season. “A lot of teams look to be at a decent level, and any team is capable of taking points off each other when it matters. Swan United, Bunbury Forum Force, Gosnells City, Wanneroo City and Forrestfield United will be the teams to beat with Ashfield emerging as a dark horse,” predicted Battigelli. “Swan are my tip to win. John O’Reilly has brought a lot of professionalism and ambition to the club along with a winning attitude which might just get them over the line.”
Dianella are home on soil for the second week running on Saturday against Canning City, who surrendered 4-0 to Swan in Round One. “There will be no easy wins in this league and this week is no exception. Canning have a great work rate and we can not afford to be over confident,” said Battigelli. “It’s important to get off to a winning start and we hope to continue our good form. To win two from two has a great effect mentally on you as a player and that can be the catalyst for a successful season.”
ON THE READING LIST (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show)
Congratulations to brothers Cameron and Ryan Edwards on being offered deals at English Championship side Reading. Cameron Edwards, 19, is undoubtedly one of the most elegant young players with great vision and Hoddle-like distribution and the 18-month deal he has been offered will no doubt benefit him and Australian football. Full time training will allow Cameron to develop the physical side of his game, if he can do that and learn how to dictate play throughout he could climb to great heights.
17-year old Ryan Edwards, who spent last year at the Australian Institute of Sport, is believed to have been offered a three-year deal, dependent on his release from the AIS. Ryan played for Perth Glory Youth in 2009/10 before moving to the AIS and attended trials with Adelaide United last season. He is a very different player to Cameron with explosive pace and an ability to excite. Both boys are bound to progress their careers quicker with a full time professional environment in Europe than they would have here, and we wish the both all the best.
BROWN “VERY IMPORTANT” FOR STIRLING: LINCOLN
Stirling Lions coach Paul Lincoln expects State team captain Andy Brown to be a key figure in the club getting their season back on track. Brown joined Stirling last week and went straight into the line-up which played Inglewood on the weekend, and he didn’t disappoint. “Andy did well but I expect he will have more of an influence when he gets use to our style of play,” said coach Paul Lincoln. “Andy will be very important for us. He will give us the strength, class and leadership in the middle of the park which has been missed since the departure of Shane Robinson. He is a very good player and has the ability to win games from his own boot.”
Initial enquiries by Stirling as to Brown’s availability fell on deaf ears at the midfielders then club, Mandurah City. “We approached Mandurah asking permission to talk to Andy but we didn’t hear back from them. We left it a couple of weeks and then contacted Andy. After our meeting he went away to think about it, and we were delighted when he rang back and agreed to sign,” said Lincoln. “He wanted a new challenge in his football and he knows a number of the players at Macedonia Park, so he will fit in really well.”
Stirling have been riddled by a strong of injuries over the opening weeks of the season with Garreth O’Connor, Bobby Wilson, Michael Pugliese, Roberto Lujan, Dean Evans, James Turvill and Brent Griffiths all spending extended time on the sidelines. “It’s not been the start we would have liked,” commented Lincoln. “We have not been able to play a settled squad. We have had a lot of injuries which has meant we have not been able to play our best eleven. On the weekend against Inglewood we had four of our starting eleven out which included two important defenders, Pugliese and Griffiths.”
COYNE POISED TO SIGN WITH SYDNEY
Former Perth Glory captain Jamie Coyne is expected to put pen to paper with Sydney FC within the next few days. Coyne featured in 23 of Glory’s first 24 games of the 2010/11 season before being frozen out by coach Ian Ferguson over the final weeks of the campaign. His attempt to join Sydney in time for the Asian Champions League, was scuppered at the final hour. Coyne, 29, made over 150 appearances for Glory since first donning their purple strip in 2002.
PORTSMOUTH INVITE NEVILLE TO STAY
Young Perth Glory defender Scott Neville has earned another ten days at Portsmouth after impressing coaching staff at the English Championship club. Long recognised as one of Western Australia’s up and coming stars, Neville will now further press his claim for a professional contract with Pompey having caught the eye during an initial two-week try out. “They’ve extended it (trials) another week and a half so obviously they like what they see,” said Glory chairman Tony Sage. “We’d never hold back any player, especially young players that want to progress. So now it’s up to Portsmouth to make him an offer if they want him.”
SMELTZ CONFIRMED TO SPEARHEAD GLORY ATTACK
Perth Glory have confirmed the A-League's worst kept secret - that Shane Smeltz has come on board as the club's international marquee player. Smeltz, a two-time A-League Golden Boot winner, is looking forward to playing a role in returning Glory to the summit of the game in Australia. "There's a fresh look about the club and it's something I want to be part of," the 29-year old said. "I don't think one player is going to change everything but I think I can certainly help out."
Coach Ian Ferguson is delighted to have secured Smeltz, scorer of 49 goals in just 77 A-League appearances for Wellington Phoenix and Gold Coast United. "He's a fantastic signing for the club," Ferguson said. "Shane was my first priority, my first target because I knew we had to get a proven goal scorer and that's what we have done. Shane is the type of forward we missed last season, one who can hold up the ball and bring other players in the game."
Smeltz played part of last season in Turkey with Genclerbirligi but said his mind is set on staying in the A-League and trying to achieve success with Glory. "I've signed a three-year deal here and I'm really looking forward to playing out that three years and hopefully more," he said. "I just want to be successful with the club personally and obviously with the team. Hopefully we can achieve something."
Smeltz is one of the national league's most respected players, making his debut in 1999 with Brisbane Strikers. Spells with Adelaide City and Adelaide United led to opportunities in England where he made over 100 senior appearances for Mansfield Town, Wimbledon and Halifax Town. In mid-2007 he commenced a successful two-season stay at Wellington which was followed by time a Gold Coast United and Genclerbirligi.
Along the way Smeltz has collected a host of awards, highlighted by back-to-back Oceania Football Confederation Player of the Year (2007, 2008) trophies. He has also picked up the Johnny Warren Medal (2008/09), as the A-League's player of the year, and two A-League Golden Boot (2008/09, 2009/10) trophies. Smeltz has scored 17 times in 34 games for New Zealand, a tally which includes three appearances at the 2010 World Cup in Germany.
MARINERS CUT FREE MRDJA
Injury-prone striker Nik Mrdja has been released by Central Past Mariners. Mrdja battled a series is knee and heel problems during his six season seasons with the Mariners, limiting the 32-year old to just 48 appearances and 12 goals across six seasons. A Socceroos call-up against Argentina in September 2007 and a strong finish to the 2009/10 campaign were the highlights of the striker’s Mariners stay. Mrdja is the fifth player released by the Mariners since the 2010/11 season came to an end, the others being Patricio Perez, Jess Vanstrattan , Chris Doig and Paul Henderson.
GLORY COUNT COST OF COURTING CELTIC (courtesy the 'West Australian')
Perth Glory are weighing up the viability of bringing Scottish giants Celtic to Western Australia for a pre-season match at Perth Oval. Glory chief executive Paul Kelly said he was "85 per cent" certain the Bhoys could be lured to Perth for a friendly in the first week in July but stressed the A-League club was not prepared to lose money on the project. "If we can make the figures work and the appetite is there, we will do it," Kelly told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian'. "We are not in it to make money but there's significant cost in getting Celtic here and we have to at least break even."
Punters are likely to be pay a high price to watch Celtic, a 42 time winner of the Scottish League Championship, with adult tickets expected to be around $70 and children about $40. "We've been very encouraged by the response. It's just testing what the ticket price should be," said Kelly, who has used social media to gauge fan interest. "There's no way we would be prepared to lose money on it. If there's a sniff of any loss, we wouldn't do it. "We are keen and interested and we'll pull out all stops but we don't want people hammering us over the cost."
Kelly said the intention was to play the match at the 20,000-capacity Perth Oval, which would offer football fans the best viewing experience rather than trying to attract a bigger crowd to Subiaco Oval. English Premier League clubs Fulham and Wolverhampton Wanderers attracted crowds of 14,903 and 11,083 to Perth Oval in their 2009 friendlies against Glory. Despite the generous attendances Glory owner Tony Sage was left out of pocket on that occasion, however, the club anticipates Celtic's presence would attract enough fans to fill the venue.
BUNDESLIGA CALLS RUKAVYTSYA
Nikita Rukavytsya can not wait to play in the Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin. Having joined Hertha last year, 23-year old Rukavytsya has been a crucial figure in his club’s rise to the top of Germany’s second tier where they stand on the cusp of promotion. “I’m very pleased with how the season has gone for me so far,” Rukavytsya told the Hertha website. “But above all, we’ve played like a team. We have worked very well and hard and hopefully we’ll be rewarded with promotion.” The top two ranked 2.Bundesliga team gained automatic promoted and Hertha are currently seven points clear of third-placed Bochum with four games to play.
Rukavytsya has been a revelation at Hertha this season as a wide attacker, providing eleven assists and scoring four times himself. The Ukraine-born Socceroo is excited by the prospect of playing next season in the Bundesliga - regarded as one of Europe’s strongest leagues. “I am looking forward to the league, no question,” he added. “It’s a fantastic league with incredibly good teams. Playing against Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will certainly be great. But all the other teams have plenty of quality.”
Rukavytsya has impressed many onlookers with his quick adjustment to life in Germany’s second division and he insisted the club has helped him find his feet. “In professional football you have to integrate quickly. I think that I’ve managed well. The team, the coaches, the whole club have helped me to fit in and when you get so much help, then it’s all the easier,” he said before paying tribute to the Hertha fans. “The fans are incredible … against Paderborn there were over 70,000 fans there. It’s indescribable. They are always behind us, even at away games. That helps enormously.”
GARCIA BACK ON THE INJURED LIST
Hull City will monitor the fitness of Richard Garcia after the Socceroo was stretchered off with a knee injury in Saturday’s 3-1 Championship win over Doncaster Rovers. Garcia, who put the Tigers’ in front after 9 minutes, had to be replaced shortly before half-time and in the next few days will undergo scans on the injury to determine the extent of damage. “We’ll just have to see how it is, hopefully it’s not too bad,” manager Nigel Pearson said. “He’s had to be really patient to wait for his opportunity. He did really well when he came on as a substitute at Swansea and the thinking was to start with the same side that finished well at Swansea.” It is feared Garcia, who has made 22 appearances for the Tigers this term, could miss the remainder of the season as Hull push for a place in the play-offs.
PERTH CONTINUE TO CLIMB (with Jordan McArdle, Football West)
Perth SC consolidated third place on the Premier League table with this afternoon’s 4-1 defeat of home team Floreat Athena. Trent Kay and Jason Dos Santos put the visitors into a comfortable two-lead lead by half time before Jarred Smith gave Floreat a glimmer of hope midway through the second period. But late finishes from David Onoforo and substitute Vlad Naumovski secured Perth their first win at Litis Stadium since 2003. The result leaves Floreat in last place on the table, winless after six games.
Perth, eager to stretch their unbeaten run to five games, were on the scoreboard after 4 minutes when central defender Kay headed a well-flighted corner into the back of the net. Floreat's luck went from bad to worse when Alex Dunn copped an accidental boot to the head from Onoforo but to the goalkeeper’s credit he soldiered on after treatment. Floreat’s half was best summed up when Jarrad Smith’s delightful cross from the left evaded Liam Boland. The game was in stoppage time when Dos Santos coolly slotted past Dunn to tightened Perth’s hold over the game.
The second half followed much the same pattern with Perth’s relentless attack causing plenty of headaches for their opponents. However, the game turned on its head in the 66th when a defensive blunder by Kay gifted Smith a vital goal, and Floreat a way back into the contest. As the game entered the closing stages Perth piled on two unanswered goals, Onoforo bagging the first of those with a superb 83rd minute strike. Naumovski put the icing on the cake a minute into stoppage time after some fancy footwork from Rob Sciascia.
Post-game, Perth coach Ronnie Campbell said he has been pleased with his team's performance. "Good result 4-1, to be fair Floreat Athena were the better team in the first half but we got a few breaks and played a lot better second half," he said. "I'm very happy with the way we're progressing after a slow start, losing to Mandurah and a draw with Bayswater. We defended very well once again today, especially Shaun Kilkelly, Trent Kay and Craig Simpson who are the backbone of our defence."
LOCAL LEGEND NORMANTON JOINS GLORY
Perth Glory has appointed former Perth SC coach Graham Normanton to the role of WA Recruitment Manager. Normanton, who guided Perth to 22 trophies during a twelve-year spell at the helm, will concentrate on identifying players from the Premier League and report directly to Glory head coach Ian Ferguson. "I'm looking forward to the role and feel I have something to offer," he said. "With additional training and improved health advice, I feel there are players who can step up to play with Perth Glory in the Hyundai A-League. The aim is to see more WA talent involved in Perth Glory than what currently exists at the moment."
Glory chief executive Paul Kelly said the newly created WA Recruitment Manager role was crucial to the long term viability of the A-League club. "We need to continually develop West Australian talent from the All Flags State League and give them the best opportunities to play for Perth Glory," Kelly said. "Graham is definitely the best person to identify these players. His record as a coach is impeccable and he complements Ian Ferguson and Gareth Naven to give us a more complete coaching structure." In his playing days Normanton turned out for Perth Azzuri, North Perth Croatia, Kingsway Olympic and Bayswater, and representing the State on 11 occasions.
CELTIC SET FOR GLORY DATE
Scottish giants Celtic are believed to be on the verge of announcing an Australian tour with a date with Perth Glory one of the likely matches. The ‘Adelaide Advertiser’ revealed yesterday Celtic will play two games against A-League opposition as part of an off-season visit to Australia, with one of those expected to be at Perth Oval on 2 July. Glory have been gauging public interest in the matches by floating the idea on Facebook and Twitter over the past few days.
BARRERA KEEPS BALCATTA ON COURSE (with Michael Barr, Football West)
Balcatta extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table by defeating a gallant Cockburn City 2-1 at Dalmatic Park. A dominant first half performance by the visitors was underlined by Steven Burton’s early strike, however, after Cockburn clawed their way back into the contest after the turnaround with John Mirco restoring parity. The decisive goal arrived just minutes from full time via Jason Barrera, who stretched Balcatta’s lead to seven points and their winning run to five games.
Cockburn appeared to be caught off-guard by Balcatta’s tidy use of the ball and attacking desires during the opening passages of play. A pass lifted over the home defence in the 7th minute was pounced on by Burton who clinically slid the ball under goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic for a one-nil lead. Balcatta’s fluent passing game opened up plenty of gaps in the Cockerel’s defence but the visitors were unable to conjure up a second goal. Burton should have done better that spray wide in the 17th minute after expertly taming a high ball and turning his marker.
Adam Tong attempted to show the strikers how it’s done in the 29th minute but his vicious volley was too close to Aleksic. It took 36 minutes for Cockburn to create their first notable chance, Marc Anthony playing Mirco into the 18-yard box where he too shot straight at the ‘keeper. The halves only other significant moment was a brilliant 18-metre shot by David Araya which was met by an equally impressive save Balcatta’s Lewis Italiano in the 43rd minute.
Cockburn began the second period with greater confidence and on 53 minutes Matt Allen’s powerful low ball into the box was craftily deflected into the bottom corner by Mirco. The momentum was now with the home team who almost claimed the lead seven minutes later when Anthony’s low cross was headed centimetres high by Wesley Britz. Aleksic came to the rescue at the other end with another stunning save, this time from Daniel Niederberger, following a collision between two of his defenders.
The game was end-to-end as the teams pushed hard for vital second goal. In the 81st minute Barrera made himself a hero by working some pretty passes with Burton to open up the home defence to go inside the area and calmly slide the winning goal past an exhausted Aleksic. The loss increases the pressure on Cockburn who remain just two points off the bottom of the table and winless since the opening day of the home and away series.
BAYSWATER BACK TO WINNING WAYS (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Bayswater City bounced back into the winners circle by coming from behind to record a comfortable 4-1 victory over Sorrento at Frank Drago Reserve. David Foster scored inside a minute but it was all down hill from there for the visitors as Gustavo Maralunda and Gavin Knight put Bayswater in control by the break. Sorrento’s woes were highlighted by the late second half dismissal of David Price which came in between further goals from Alex Caniglia and Larry Miller.
Foster needed only 42 seconds to put Sorrento ahead, the attacker making the most of poor defending to head in at a Jason Mirco free kick. Bayswater weren’t behind for long, Maralunda collecting the ball in midfield and beating two opponents before driving low past Curtis Aspden in the 12th minute. Sorrento had a chance to regain the lead just seconds later when Ryan Pearson got to the bye-line and pulled the ball back for Price whose shot was deflected onto the crossbar by Caniglia.
The visitors carved out another good chance within minutes when Todd Harnwell headed the ball down for Foster but Gianni Papalia and George Tchami combined to spoil his shot from the top of the 6-yard box. Knight fired Bayswater into the lead with a powerful diagonal shot that flew across Aspden and snuck inside the far post after 20 minutes. The game now settled down and in the final twenty minutes neither team was able to muster any further chances of substance.
Daryl Platten forced a fine save from Papalia as Sorrento made a positive start to the second half. Brodie Martin split the home defence with a well-weighted pass to Todd Harnwell but Tchami snuffed out the danger. Maralunda was desperately unlucky not to score a second in the 67th minute when his free kick from 23-metres struck the inside of the post and rebounded away from goal. In an attempt to find a way back into the game Sorrento reverted to a back three with veteran defender Jamie Harnwell joining the attack.
In the 75th minute Anthony McStea played down the right for Caniglia who outpaced one defender and stepped around another before his angled strike was blocked by Aspden, however, the youngster reacted quickly by sliding the loose ball into the net. Things went from bad to worse for Sorrento when Price received his marching orders for violent conduct following an off the ball altercation with Thomas Gooding. Victory was secured in the 89th minute when substitute Sam Loveless picked open another hole to give Miller a simple one-on-one chance that he tucked away coolly.
SPARK LACKING AS JOONDALUP AND MANDURAH SHARE THE POINTS (with Tim Lefort, Football West)
ECU Joondalup and Mandurah City picked up a point each from a game that failed to reach any great heights at Edith Cowan University. Genuine chances on goal were few and between as the teams traded blows before settling for a 0-0 draw. “I was delighted with was no goals against, we’ve worked hard for that. We haven’t had many of them this season,” said Joondalup boss Syd Amphlett. “We had our opportunities (but) that’s the way it’s been going the last few games, we’ll take a point ... no game is easy at this level.”
Mandurah had the first sight of goal after 10 minutes but Lucas Whitehouse slide wide of the target after having the ball laid back to him on the edge of the 18-yard box. Whitehouse made much better contact seven minutes later with a first-time effort from 18-metres that forced goalkeeper Andy Banks to parry away for a corner. Banks was called into action again soon after to keep put another Whitehouse attempt, this one a close-range header on the end of a Jeff Bright cross.
The Dolphins should have gone ahead after 24 minutes through Ryan Townsend but his goal bound header was scrambled off the line by Chris Wylie. Townsend then saw a close-range effort cleared by a combination of Wylie and Banks. Joondalup slowly worked their way into the game with Jordan Withey volleying high their first shot on goal. Charlie Comyn-Platt’s weak effort wide was wide, while Ryan McDarby blasted over the cross bar. Tommy Jones could have sent the Dolphins into the break with a slender lead but a poor first touch allowed Banks to gather.
John Thornley poked McDarby’s cross from the right over the bar five minutes after the restart as the already familiar pattern continued. Rafael Insauralde tried to inspire Mandurah but failed to trouble Banks with his shot on the turn midway through the half, while Bright failed to punish Joondalup’s lapse in concentration by firing wide following a corner. Townsend and Jones wasted further chance’s to put Mandurah in front before referee Paul Anderson dismissal a strong 86th minute penalty appeal when Comyn-Platt clattered into the back of substitute Graeme Matthews.
MAKECHE INSPIRES INGLEWOOD TO VICTORY
Inglewood United revived their season with a stunning 5-1 thrashing of Stirling Lions at the 6PR Stadium. A double from former Ndumba Makeche against his former club and singles to Rory Grant, James Sammut and Ryan Clarke gave Shane Pryce’s side three deserved points. “It was a big win for us today, as we had come off two big losses, but all the lads played well today and we’re delighted with the three points,” said goal hero Makeche. “It’s always nice to score, especially against your old club, but it’s more important that we won and it was a great all-round team performance.”
An even opening twenty minutes had Jamie de Abreu shoot weakly at Oliver Taseski and Clarke head wide from six-yards at the opposite end of the park. Midway through the half Makeche held the ball up well before playing it back for Dannie Richman whose powerful shot from 16-metres was saved by Cory Hugo. With this the game opened up and Andy Brown fired wide after being teed up by Ludovic Boi, then Makeche blazed high at close range. Boi was unlucky not to put Stirling in front shortly before the break, the livewire midfielder waltzing past three defenders before unleashing a fierce shot which Taseski pushed around the post at full stretch.
Stirling made a dream start to the second half which was four minutes old when Scott Muirhead’s long throw-in was met by Wilson, his header was parried by Taseski and O’Callaghan was on hand to rifle in from 5-metres. Two minutes later Muirhead curled a free-kick around the defensive wall to force Taseski into a stunning low save. Inglewood held firm and in the 59th minute were level after Paul Dugdale picked out Grant, who rode two tackles before beating Hugo with a low shot. Makeche then capitalised on Huss Awada’s weak header back to his ‘keeper by sliding goal number two past an exposed Hugo.
Inglewood had their noses in front and there was no way they would let that change. Sammut flashed just past the post after driving out of midfield while Makeche should have done better than shoot straight at the ‘keeper after being released by Richman. With 75 minutes gone Makeche delivered the ball to the far post where an unmarked Sammut increased the hosts lead from 7-metres. Sixty seconds later Paul Dugdale put clear Makeche who applied a clinical finish past a stranded Hugo. Clarke put the icing on the cake in stoppage time with another low finish after getting on the end of Dugdale’s ball over the defence.
ARMADALE DOWN NTC
Tom Robinson scored twice and Craig Young in a blistering first half to set Armadale on course for a comfortable 4-1 victory over the National Training Centre on a warm afternoon at Alfred Skeet Oval. The Reds needed just 6 minutes to open their account with an unmarked Robinson slotting in at close-range after a defender failed to control Parys Okai’s cross. That lead was doubled in spectacular fashion six minutes later when Young won the ball in the centre of the park and, spotting Tim Doyle off his line, clipped a superb shot over the stricken goalkeeper.
The NTC were clearly unsettled at the back and on 26 minutes a poor clearance went straight to Robinson, who had little difficulty converting a one-on-one with Doyle. The youngsters were thrown a lifeline six minutes from half time thanks to a flowing move finished off by Nick Ambrogio, who had Blamo QuaQua to thank for the delightful pass which the attacker slotted past Daniel Cooper. The gap would have been reeled in even further hand Brandon O’Neill’s stunning free kick not hit the post.
The second period had the NTC find their feet and had Ambrogio been able to make more of a couple of chances the score would have been much closer had. The game was made safe in the 67th minute when Armadale broke on the counterattack, Robinson crossing low to Young whose dummied the ball to present Paul Lloyd an easy tap into an empty net. Steven MacDonald nearly got his name on the scoresheet late on with a blistering drive which was matched by Doyle’s fantastic full length dive.
BUNBURY HIT SEVEN IN SEASON OPENER
Bunbury Forum Force over-ran a young Fremantle Spirit line-up 7-0 to give themselves a dream start to the new Division One season. Oliver McGee helped himself to a double on his return to WesTrac Stadium with Rory Binnie, Jordan Rispin, recent arrival Michael Marten and Keiran Quinn also finding the net on a memorable day for Bunbury. “I was happy to get our first (goal), once we scored we got on top of the game and gave Fremantle nothing,” said McGee. “We just need to keep that form all the way through this year.”
Bunbury settled the better and with only 8 minutes on the clock McGee posted their first goal by turning Jon Brook’s low cross past goalkeeper Lachlan McAlindon. With this Ashley Young and Binnie seized control of midfield, pushing Fremantle deep into their defensive half under mounting pressure. Ryan Risdon was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet after 18minutes when his shot struck Binnie and deflected into the top corner, doubling the hosts lead. The game was effectively put to bed five minutes from half time when another Brooks cross was met by Jordan Rispin, who slammed into the net at the back post.
It was more of the same after the break, Ashley Young launching a long throw into the 18-yard box which McGee tucked into the net in the 50th minute. It became five-nil two minutes when Marten ran out of midfield and shot across the goalkeeper, blowing the gap out to five goals. Fremantle went close to pegging one back with Roberto Calaillo firing past ‘keeper Ryan Mongtomery only to have Risdon prevent it from crossing the line. In the 73rd minute Quinn beat his marker before netting another for Bunbury, and soon after Binnie completed the route by putting away a Bryce Young centre.
THEODOSIADES STEALS DIANELLA THE POINTS
Dianella White Eagles claimed all three points over Gosnells City courtesy of a 2-1 scoreline on a hot afternoon at Dianella Reserve. The game was in stoppage time when Sotiris Theodosiades settled the affair, adding to Jimmy Nelson’s early second half goal which was cancelled out ten minutes later by Andy Pomfret. The outcome could have been quite different had Ravi Kupassamy been able to make more of a couple of close-range shots, while Pomfret’s shot from 11-metres brought a tremendous save from Matt Battigelli. Dianella were by no means out of the game but found clear cut shots on goal hard to come by against a defence run by Graham Tough and Ciaran Allen.
The game was turned on its head in the 53rd minute when an unmarked Jimmy Nelson drilled low into the corner of the net after clever work in the lead up by Andreas Theodosiades. Parity was restored ten minutes when Juan Cabrera broke the offside trap and sped down the right before teeing up Pomfret, who made no mistake finding the net from 7-metres. Dianella’s day appeared to take a turn for the rose when striker Stefan Smiljanic was issued his marching orders for a second bookable offence soon after. However, this only spurred the visitors on and two minutes into stoppage time Sotiris Theodosiades beat two defenders before firing into the roof of the net to seal a memorable victory.
ELSEWHERE IN DIVISION ONE
Swan United marked their return to the second tier by lashing four goals without reply past an inexperienced Canning City outfit at the Swan Italian Club. The teams looked like entering the break as they started when Tom Shepheard put Swan in front. John Monterosso doubled their lead midway through the second half but it wasn’t until the closing stages that the margin blew out with Shepheard tucking away his second before summer recruit Craig Tooley completed the route.
There was late drama at Hartfield Park where Forrestfield United struck twice in the final few minutes to edge out Ashfield 4-2 in a thriller. The host side was given a dream start as Jacob Reischmann and Jamie Burns scored inside 8 minutes to have Ashfield reeling. The visitors hit back through Ian Griffiths before Mladen Kovacevic restored parity six minutes into the second half. Just as it looked as though the points would be shared, Matt Harold put Forrestfield back in front with Anthony Lyons making the game safe in stoppage time.
Rockingham City and Morley Windmills split the points by playing out a tight scoreless draw at Lark Hill Sportsplex. The home side settled the better into a cautious first half that saw possession evenly shared between the teams and a handful of half chances created. Rockingham stepped up the tempo after the turnaround to dominate play, however, it was by no means one-way traffic with Morley always threatening to score on the counterattack. Had it been for a little more sharpness in the finishing department either team would have taken maximum points.
It was also a point apiece at Kingsway Sporting Complex where Wanneroo City were held to 0-0 draw by newly promoted Shamrock Rovers. Wanneroo City enjoyed the better of possession but struggled in the final third of the park against a resilient and focused defence led by Paudie O’Connor. Shamrock similarly had their chances to break the deadlock but at the end of 90 minutes had to be content with a draw from their first ever State League outing.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
Sunday’s local derby meeting of Floreat Athena and Perth SC at Litis Stadium (3.00pm) is the pick of this weekend’s Premier League action. With Floreat slumped at the foot of the table, winless after five games, attacker Garin Collins says the time is right to get things back on track. “The start of the season has been a huge disappointment. After winning the Night Series our intensity has dropped slightly, but that’s all it takes to go from winning to losing,” said Collins. “It’s always great to play Perth as they really are the benchmark in our league. We will have to be at our best to get something from the game, hopefully, this is a test we can pass and get our season back on track.”
Perth are unbeaten in their last four outings and moved into third spot with last week’s defeat of ECU Joondalup. And even though the Blues are on a roll you have to dig back eight years to find the last time they left Litis Stadium with all the points on offer. “It should be a good game on Sunday, as it always is between the two teams,” said Perth custodian Devon Spence. “Floreat have got off to an unexpected slow start and will be looking to take off but Perth is swinging at the moment.” In team news, Robbie Puca is pushing for a start after featuring in the reserves last week while fitness tests await Greg Sharland and Robert Sciascia.
The remaining four Round Eight games will be played on Saturday, beginning with Cockburn City’s home date with top of the table Balcatta (3.00pm). The Cockerels are positioned just a couple of points off last and time pressure really is mounting on coach Tony Castiello’s side to start performing. The defensive contributions of Jason Godfrey and Jonathon Davite will be vital to their chances, likewise Johnny Mirco and Michael Grigo when going in the other direction. Balcatta have won all four away games to date and should Adam Tong, Spencer Harris, Mo Atak and Ashley Rosindale get into gear then they’ll add another to what is already an impressive record.
Inglewood United must take the points from their home game with Stirling Lions (3.00pm) or run the risk of losing touch with the top five. Defender David McNally has served suspension and is likely to come straight back into Inglewood’s first eleven, while key roles await Oliver Taeski, Paul Dugdale and Rory Grant. Stirling had their stocks bolstered during the week with the signing of versatile attacker Andy Brown, and with Michael Pugliese and Bobby Wilson close to a first team recall coach Paul Lincoln will be confident of picking up his first away win of the campaign.
ECU Joondalup has home ground advantage over Mandurah City (3.00pm). Successive losses has seen Joondalup slip off the pace in the recent weeks and the job doesn’t get any easier for coach Syd Amphlett who’ll be without suspended pair Scott Blackmore and Dale McCulloch as well as Oliver McGee, who has re-joined Bunbury Forum Force. This week’s departure of inspirational captain Andy Brown could not have come at a worse time for a Mandurah side that has not won in over a month and is still coming to terms with the loss of three-time State League Goalkeeper of the Year Phil Straker.
Sorrento goes in search of their third win in a row when they journey to Frank Drago Reserve to face Bayswater City (3.00pm). Todd Harnwell struck the Gulls a late winner last time out and he has another big role to play this weekend, likewise David Price and Adam Luca in midfield and veteran defender Jamie Harnwell. Bayswater have taken one point from the last four games and are eager to re-discover their good early season form. Captain Damian Catalano, Anthony McStea, Gianio Papalia and Gustavo Marulanda will need to be at their best to get Bayswater over the line.
ITS KICK-OFF TIME! DIVISION ONE PREVIEW
The 2011 Division One season bursts into life this weekend with a full compliment of games highlighted by Wanneroo City’s home clash with Shamrock Rovers. Wanneroo coach Gerry McEwan will look to big efforts from Glen Moore, Guy McDonald and Josh Booysen to get the sort of start he wants to the new season. However, Shamrock are also chasing maximum points and John Kearney, Nick Carroll and Paudie O’Connor will be pulling out all the stops of make sure that happens and erase the bitter memory of a Night Series semi-final loss to the Roos.
Elsewhere, Forrestfield United come up against a much-changed Ashfield at Hartfield Park. Newly crowned Night Series champions Swan United are expected to run all over a young and inexperienced Canning City in the Swan Valley. An import-laden Bunbury Forum Force should encounter few problems on home soil to Fremantle Spirit, likewise Morley Windmills who make the trip to Rockingham City. Gosnells City’s season opens on home soil to Dianella White Eagles, who gave a good account of themselves in pre-season. All six Division One games start at 3.00pm on Saturday.
FLOREAT SET TO RE-IGNITE: VUJACIC
Floreat Athena return to Premier League action this weekend refreshed and ready start moving away from the foot of the table according to midfielder Miki Vujacic. Not a lot has gone right since Floreat lifted the Night Series trophy in pre-season but having taken stock of their situation and regrouped over the past fortnight the inner city club are set to re-ignite their season on Sunday against inner city neighbours Perth SC. “Training has been quite intense and with the majority of our squad available for selection it will be a full-strength Athena side for probably the first time this year,” commented Vujacic.
The fortnight’s break from competitive football could not have come at a better time for Floreat, who’ve been cut adrift in twelfth place with just two points from five games. “It gave us time to get some players back to full fitness as well giving the players that have played since January a bit of a break ... I suppose that sort of break will be welcomed by most players in the older age bracket in the league!,” Vujacic jibed. “The focus has been on keeping good intensity at training as well as working on a few tactical parts of our game. Obviously with us sitting on the foot of the table we have to start getting back to the winning mentality we had in the Night Series.”
Floreat came within a whisker of taking a point from their last game against top of the table Balcatta, who found a late winner through Ashley Rosindale. “It was a tight game which I thought we deserved at least a point, if not all three,” reflected Vujacic. “First half we soaked up a bit of pressure allowing Steve Burton and Jason Barrera, in particular, to have more of an impact than we would have liked. We had them pinned for the majority of the second half and created some clear cut chances that we were taking in the Night Series but didn’t convert on the day … then Rosindale punished us on the break and that was that.”
Floreat’s performance that afternoon showed they are a better team than their lowly position suggests. “It’s a very hungry and competitive group which we have probably missed at Athena for a number of years,” said Vujacic. “Captain Julian Madaschi and Alex Dunn have shown great leadership for what is a really young squad. Jack Allen has been great at right back and Liam Boland has posed a massive threat to all the teams we have come across so far. Callum O’Connell and Phil Arnold have been impressive in the last few weeks which have made competition for spots more and more intense.”
On Sunday afternoon Vujacic comes up against a Perth outfit unbeaten in four games. “I watched them against Inglewood United and they looked quite sharp,” said Vujacic, who played youth football at Dorrien Gardens. “With David Onoforo and Andreas Oliviera up front they possess two of the most potent strikers in the league over the last decade. They have a very strong spine with Antonio Naglieri and Dom De Felice in midfield and Shaun Kilkelly and Trent Kay at the back so they are very solid and we’ll have to work hard to break them down.”
Floreat have not lost a league encounter with Perth at their ground since 2003 and Vujacic is adamant that will not be changing this weekend. “There have been some classic matches between us over the years and given our respective positions on the table I expect this weekend will be another one of them,” said the midfielder. “There’s no doubt it will be an entertaining affair … our boys are fired up to get our season back on track, starting this weekend.” The local derby between Floreat and Perth kicks off at 3.00pm this Sunday at Litis Stadium.
SHAMROCK IN TALKS WITH IRISH GIANTS
Shamrock Rovers are working towards formalising links with their League of Ireland namesake. Wayne Brooks, secretary of the State League’s newest addition, says the establishment of formal ties with Shamrock in Ireland would be a major coupe for his club. “It is hoped that the arrangement will provide Shamrock in Perth regular access to talented Irish players and also offer opportunities for marketing the club on a broader scale,” said Brooks. “This would be a significant boost to the club’s profile and be a great help in attracting sponsors.”
A meeting in Sydney last month between Shamrock committee member Bill Byrne and Ray Wilson, part owner of the Irish club who’ve won a record 16 League of Ireland titles, got the ball rolling towards establishing a formal agreement between the clubs. “It was agreed that all options should be put on the table for discussion and an agreement worked out that would work to the benefit of both clubs,” explained Brooks. Further talks between the clubs will be held next month when Byrne meets Shamrock chairman Jonathon Roach in Dublin.
The benefits of formal ties with Shamrock in Ireland are many for the club based in East Victoria Park. “A good, long term association with the current Irish Premier League champions would offer opportunities for talented young players who come through the ranks at our club to be offered trials in Dublin, and perhaps lead them on to a professional football career in Europe,” said Brooks. “This will greatly increase our chances for attracting young talented players to our under 18’s and later through the club’s youth teams which, in time, would take the form of an Academy similar to those run by many clubs in Europe.”
ROCKINGHAM ON THE RISE
Steve Robinson expects Rockingham City to cast off the disappointments of seasons gone and establish themselves as major player in Division One. Rockingham gave a good account of themselves in pre-season their coach expects that to carry over when the new home and away commences this weekend. “It’s been a very good pre-season with the ‘old and new’ showing great commitment,” said Robinson, who has no doubt Rockingham are in a stronger position today than when he took over last July. “We’re better organised and have good quality players who have gelled really well and that are on board with my philosophy of playing the game on the floor.”
The summer months were a busy time for Robinson, who worked hard to bring back to Rockingham several players who had walked out on the club in years gone by. “I have brought in a few new faces, however, I’m pleased that a lot of lads have returned to the club and they have been great in pre-season,” said Robinson, who successfully convinced the likes of Jay Bonser, Adam McLeod and Andrew Keary to give Rockingham another go. “The local football fans should be happy as apart from a couple of poms it is more or less a Rockingham side full of Rockingham lads.”
2011 will be the first step on a long road to recovery for Rockingham and Robinson has accordingly set his team some realistic goals for the coming winter. “I’ve told the boys to work hard, believe in themselves, have fun and enjoy … and win the league,” the coach said with a wry smile. “I don’t want to give my secrets away but we are looking pretty solid in defence and sharp in midfield. The overall aim is that we perform with quality and improve our performances as we go through the season.”
Rockingham opens the new Division One season on Saturday by welcoming Night Series semi-finalists Morley Windmills at Lark Hill Reserve, a venue at which the club have won on just seven occasions since moving in three years ago. “Those stats are not good reading but hopefully this season we can change that and turn Lark Hill into a fortress that other teams will not want to visit,” commented Robinson. “I am confident we will get something positive out of the game with Morley, we will be focused and the boys are up for it.”
SUN SHINES FOR DJULBIC
Clean sheets from his opening two games with Shaanxi Chanba have given Dino Djulbic a dream start to his time in the Chinese Super League. Djulbic, 28, joined the club on a two-year deal from Gold Coast United only last month and admits to being pleasantly surprised by the high quality of game games played in China’s top flight. “Technically they are very good and the standard is very good from what I’ve seen,” said Djulbic. “Maybe the games are tactically more organised but not as physical as the A-League.”
Partnering Djulbic in the heart of the Shaanxi defence is former Manchester City player Sun Jihai, who has represented his nation on 100 over occasions. “Sun is one of the most respected players in the Chinese league …. not many Chinese players have been in the EPL, so he’s very well respected. Everyone loves him," said Djulbic, scorer of the only goal in last weekend’s defeat of Shenzhen Ruby. “The combination has been working well so far and I’m really enjoying it. We haven’t conceded a goal yet. He speaks English well too which helps."
The move to China has so far been smooth sailing for the towering defender, who made his senior debut as a teenager at Perth SC before entering the national league with Perth Glory. “Obviously here it’s a bit different to Gold Coast. We’re in the middle of China so there’s no beach but I’m learning about the culture here and looking forward to see the rest of the country,” said Djulbic. “And when I walk down the street because I’m 193centimerres I get people all the time turning around and taking photos of me.”
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, THE DIVISION ONE PREVIEW
The 2011 Division One season swings into action this weekend with several clubs staking an early claim on promotion to next year’s Premier League. Many are tipping either Night Series winners Swan United or Bunbury Forum Force for top honours, however, breathing down their necks and ready to take advantage of even the slightest slip are a revitalised Morley Windmills, perennial powerhouse Wanneroo City and State League debutant Shamrock Rovers.
With the addition of a third tier to State League football imminent, the battle to remain in Division One promises to be similarly intriguing with Canning City, Fremantle Spirit and Rockingham City likely to be involved in a relegation dog fight. Brett Klucznik takes an in-depth look at each of the twelve clubs, assesses their strengths and weaknesses before the footballwa.net team and guest Eamon Duffy (‘Let’s Talk Football’) make some bold predictions as to how the 2011 Division One season will pan out…
RUKAVYTSYA ON THE CUSP OF PROMOTION
Attacker Nikita Rukavytsya edged closer to the German Bundesliga after Hertha Berlin defeated third-placed VfL Bochum 2-0 on the weekend. Rukavytsya was busy throughout the game and almost added to his ten goal assists for the season by teeing up Brazilian midfielder Raffael but his shot midway through the second half hit the post. Goals in each half by Peter Niemeyer and Ronny moved Hertha four points clear of second-placed Augsburg, but more importantly seven points clear of Bochum with five games to play. The top two 2.Bundesliga are automatically promoted, while third faces a playoff tie against the 16th-placed team from the top flight.
SWAN BRING COLLI INTO THE MIX
Swan United has added muscle to their midfield stocks with the recruitment of Aaron Colli. The attack-minded 24-year old was instrumental in the black and whites Night Series final win on the weekend, setting up numerous chances on goal in just his second appearance for the club. "I've been made really welcome by everyone at Swan and I'm looking forward to the season ahead," said Colli. "It's been made a little easy as I know a few players at the club."
Swan coach O'Reilly has been delighted with Colli's application during his short time with the club. "Aaron has been and will become a very good signing for us," O'Reilly said. "He brings to the team a different dynamic of hard-tackling, good vision and creative play. He trains hard and that alone raises the bar for everyone involved. He has fitted in straight away with the rest of the lads and will be a great asset to the club."
Colli played as a junior for Perth SC and heads to the Swan Valley with several years' service to Inglewood United under his belt. "I enjoyed my time at Inglewood but I needed a new challenge," said Colli, who helped Inglewood's reserve team win the League and Cup double in 2006. "When John (O'Reilly) rang me and told me his plans for Swan I jumped at the chance to join them … I'm looking forward to the new season ahead."
JONES PLEAS FOR BONE MARROW DONORS
Australian international Brad Jones has made a desperate plea for bone marrow donors after it was revealed his son Luca's leukaemia has returned. Jones dramatically quit the Socceroos 2010 World Cup squad in June last year after his 5-year old son Luca was diagnosed with cancer. The family hoped Luca would be cured following a stem-cell transplant in September, but he has since been re-admitted to hospital and is mid-February and is undergoing intensive chemotherapy after tests confirmed that acute myeloid leukaemia had reappeared.
Jones, 29, urged West Australians to sign up with the Red Cross, which collects much-needed stem cells, to help his son and hundreds of others in need of a transplant. "It's about getting people on the register and the fact that so many people need transplants and there's not enough donors obviously we're trying to spread the word," Jones told the 'Sunday Times'. About half of those who need the transplant don't find a match. Luca found one in Spain last year, but now needs to find another.
The former Bayswater City goalkeeper revealed his brave son was in positive spirits, despite knowing he faced another long period in hospital. "Luca's disappointed that he's back in hospital. He only spent five weeks at home before he went back," Jones explained. "The doctors always tell you there is a chance it will come back. We hoped that it wouldn't, but unfortunately it has. They say that some people have three transplants and survive, so it's not the end of the world, but it is a big dent in his recovery."
Jones, currently on loan to Derby County from Liverpool, has made Luca's recovery his first priority. "The doctors are really happy with how he's reacted to the medicine so far, but it's still wait and see on how he will go in the longer term," he said. "Last time he was in from June to November, so we assume it will be very similar. We're probably looking at the best part of five months, anything less is a bonus." To become a bone marrow donor and go on the international register call the Australian Red Cross Blood Service on 131 495.
FOWLER TO STAY WITH GLORY
Football superstar Robbie Fowler is set to remain with Perth Glory for another season after making a verbal agreement to sign with the club. While 35-year old Fowler is yet to officially sign a new contract, the former Liverpool star has agreed to terms with Glory for the summer of 2011/12. “Robbie has verbally confirmed his commitment for the 2011/12 season but the club will make a formal announcement once the contract is signed,” an unnamed club spokesman has been reported as saying. Fowler scored nine goals in 28 games for Glory last season after coming to the club from North Queensland Fury.
SWAN FLY AWAY WITH NIGHT SERIES CROWN
Swan United won their first ever Night Series crown by defeating Wanneroo City 3-1 under lights in this evening’s Division One final at Wotton Reserve. Second half finishes by John Monterosso and Craig Tooley plus an own goal by Wanneroo goalkeeper Michael Carroll gave the black and whites a commanding lead before Brian Cairney converted a late penalty consolation. “It’s a great feeling to win a Cup final and we’re going to celebrate tonight,” said Swan captain Rob Monterosso. “Wanneroo came out strong at the start and we soaked up a lot of pressure … we settled in the second half and it was great to get the early goal.”
Wanneroo came out firing and with only 3 minutes gone Josh Booysen’s shot on the run flashed just wide of the post. Seven minutes later team captain Cairney played a great ball out to Sahar Konomanyi, who skipped past Trent Wood only for his shot to be kept out by goalkeeper Daniel Agudelo. Swan were very much a team under pressure as Wanneroo continued to dictate terms. Cairney was thwarted by Agudelo after being found by a Guy McDonald free kick, and moments later another dead ball from the Wanneroo midfielder picked out Craig Bowman whose header was straight at the ‘keeper.
Swan didn’t threaten for the first time until the 23rd minute when Aaron Colli’s shot was pushed onto the post Carroll, Trent Wood returned the ball into the danger zone where an unmarked John Mansaray blazed high from 6-metres. The ascendency was now with the black and whites and only Brad McDonald’s goal line clearance prevented Tom Shepheard from heading in an Adam Pygrum corner. Carroll ensure the teams would enter the break on level terms with a couple of vital saves to deny John Monterosso and Wood in one-on-one situations.
Swan could not have imagined of a better start to the second period, which was a couple of minutes old when John Monterosso found the net from 7-metres after Pygrum’s long throw fell fortuitously to him. Rory Hollingum’s long-range attempt was just high and Pygrum’s shot from 17-metres drifted wide as Swan ramped up the pressure. With the game in the balance Guy McDonald swung in a corner which was met by Joe Stocker but his header was too close to Agudelo. Another chance for Wanneroo to equalise went begging soon after, Cairney denied in a one-on-one with Agudelo who also saved Booysen’s follow-up.
Tooley came off the bench on 65 minutes and soon after put his team two-goal the better, the striker taking a pass from Rob Monterosso and outpacing Stocker before clinically slotting past Carroll. The trophy was made Swans’ in the 83rd minute when Carroll pushed the ball into his own net after misjudging the flight of a Pygrum cross. Sixty second later Hollingum’s foul on Jay McDonald led the referee to award Wanneroo a penalty, and up stepped Cairney who sent Agudelo the wrong way for a final three-one scoreline.
Swan United: Daniel Agudelo, Michael Tronchin, Rory Mouttet, Rob Monterosso, Rory Hollingum, Aaron Colli, Adam Pygrum, John Monterosso, Thomas Shepheard (Craig Tooley 64), John Mansaray (Scott Campbell 93), Trent Wood
Wanneroo City: Michael Carroll, Joe Stocker, Chris Pugh (Nicholas Timmings 60), Dave Ashworth (Jay McDonald 72), Craig Bowman, Brad McDonald, Josh Booysen, Sahar Konomanyi (Dave Herety 54), Brian Cairney, Guy McDonald, Dean Timmings
Bookings: Ashworth (52)
Referee: John Taran
ROSINDALE ON THE ATAK FOR BALCATTA (with David Cameron, Football West)
Two goals apiece from Ashley Rosindale and Mo Atak secured Balcatta a comfortable 4-1 win over Inglewood United at Grindleford Reserve. Paul Dugdale posted the game’s opening goal but it was then all downhill for Inglewood with Rosindale and Atak putting the home side two-up before adding further goals in the second half. “I thought Inglewood were one of the better sides we have played this year with the difference being our strikers on the day,” said Balcatta coach Michael Roki. “We showed great character to rebound with two stunning goals from Moe and Ash to get us back in front by half time.”
Balcatta’s first half dominance was curbed in the 18th minute when Ndumba Makeche harassed Adam Tong into coughing up the ball which he held up before playing into the path of Dugdale who finished into the far corner of the goal. There was a dose of controversy in the hosts’ 32nd minute equaliser, Steve Burton combining with Atak whose fierce shot struck the crossbar and bounced back into play with referee Paul Anderson awarding the goal after a lengthy consultation with his assistant on the line. Seven minutes Ashley Rosindale took possession and weaved between two opponents before curling sweetly beyond Oliver Taseski to make it advantage Balcatta.
Balcatta could have further increased their lead after being awarded a second half penalty, however, Taseski guessed right to keep out Tong’s spot kick. Next it was Inglewood’s turn to squander a golden opportunity with Dugdale’s penalty kick pushed wide by Lewis Italiano That miss was compounded a few minutes later when Daniel Micevski’s precision cross caught the visiting defence ball watching to present Atak the simple task of nodding into the far corner. Rosindale completed a second half rout by netting his second of the afternoon in the 79th minute, ensuring that there would be no miracle comeback for Inglewood.
MONTGOMERY STEERS KNIGHTS TO VICTORY (with Michael Bate, Football West)
Western Knights picked up three points after accounting for Cockburn City 4-1 on a pleasant afternoon at Nash Field. Stuart Montgomery scored twice and Glen Thomas and Paul Cooke netted one apiece to keep the Knights hot on the heels of table-topping Balcatta. Cockburn’s solitary goal came early in the first half via Johnny Mirco whose team slump to second from bottom with just a single win from their five outings.
The Knights made a stunning start to the game with Montgomery taking possession near the half way line before quickly turning and looping a long-range shot over an out of position Dejan Aleksic which dropped into the net with only 2 minutes gone. Simon Versaico nearly doubled the margin four minutes later but his powerful stroke on the counter attack drew a fine save from Aleksic.
Mirco restored parity in the 8th minute with a precision free-kick from 18-metres which caught out goalkeeper Fraser Siddall as he set up his defensive wall. The game now settled down with both sides displaying some attractive traits but failing to find the necessary spark in front of goal. Pavle Biserko and Mirco were both denied by Siddall, while at the other end Aleksic breathed a sigh of relief when Thomas’ volley dropped onto the crossbar.
There was very little separating the teams as the game pushed into the second half. The pendulum swung in the Knights favour after 64 minutes when a handball decision against Adrian Webster prompted referee Michael Nugus to award the hosts a penalty and Montgomery’s firmly struck spot kick was too good for Aleksic. Two minutes later Stuart Ferguson drew a fine low save from the Cockburn custodian on the end of a fine diagonal run that took him inside the 18-yard box.
The Knights tightened their grip on the game in the 70th minute when a moment of hesitation by Jon Devite allowed substitute Callum Roberts to steal the ball and roll it across goal where Thomas side-footed in. Cockburn refused to throw in the towel with both Webster and Jason Godfrey seeing decent efforts go wide of the mark in the final ten minutes. But the Knights had the final say with Cooke tapping in at close-range a low centre by James Morgan.
DOS SANTOS TAKES PERTH TO THIRD
A goal in the opening moments of the second half by Jason Dos Santos has given Perth SC a 1-0 win over ECU Joondalup at Dorrien Gardens. The result moves Perth into joint-third at the conclusion of the round, trailing Balcatta by eight points but with two games in hand over the Premier League pacesetters. “It was a battle out there today, and we knew it would be,” said Perth coach Ronnie Campbell. “They started the better but we managed to hold on and I thought we were the better team in the second half. Our defence was excellent today, like they have been all season.”
Joondalup’s positive opening almost reaped rewards in the 8th minute but an unmarked Ian McMurray headed wide after being found by Jon Higgins’ corner. Three minutes later McMurray sent clear John Thornley whose shot from the edge of the 18-yard box also went the wrong side of the post. Perth kicked into gear around the quarter hour when Antonio Naglieri’s slide rule pass put David Onoforo in on goal, however, the striker’s first touch let him down and Charlie Comyn-Platt swept into clear the danger.
Onoforo was presented another chance a few minutes when he latched on to an Adam Bachiller pass but on this occasion visiting goalkeeper Andy Banks was alert to the danger and came off his line to smother at the strikers feet. Dom De Felice’s shot from 9-metres beat Banks only to crashed into the post as Perth monopolised possession. That said, Joondalup weren’t without their chances but Thornley volleyed high on the counterattack, while in stoppage time Higgins vicious drive from 15-metres rose over the crossbar.
The second half had been underway just 40 seconds when Naglieri floated a pass over the defence, and with Joondalup waiting for the offside flag Dos Santos motored through to round Banks and blast into an empty net. The margin was nearly doubled twelve minutes later, Robbie Sciascia brilliantly picking out Dos Santos whose shot on the turn from 15-metres just missed the target. Joondalup pushed men forward in search of an equaliser but were met with strong resistance from Shaun Kilkelly and Trent Kay. The day ended on a sour note for Joondalup with captain Dale McCulloch red carded for his stoppage time foul on substitute Nick Tatasciore.
SORRENTO MOVE ON UP (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
A goal four minutes from full time by Todd Harnwell has given Sorrento a 1-0 victory over Stirling Lions this afternoon at Percy Doyle Reserve. “I thought it was going to be one of those days as we had a number of chances that went narrowly wide or hit the woodwork but, thankfully, we pinched it at the death,” said the Gulls goal scoring captain Harnwell. “The win has got us right back in the chasing pack and we are confident of going on from here.”
After a largely forgettable opening, the game sprung into life in the 20th minute when a lack of communication in the visiting defence presented an opportunity for Todd Harnwell but his weak effort was straight at Cory Hugo. Good interplay through the middle involving Jason Mirco and Brodie Martin led to another chance for Sorrento with David Price’s curling effort just high of the crossbar. Stirling’s first meaningful attack came via a long ball into the 18-yard box where Jamie Watt couldn’t get the desired touch to beat Curtis Aspden.
The better chances were going the way of Sorrento though and on the half hour Shaun Timmins delivered a delightful cross to David Foster, who forced a great save from Hugo. At the ensuing corner the Stirling goalkeeper was grateful for the assistance of Jason Gavin who cleared off the line a goal bound header by Foster. Mirco’s set pieces were a source of constant annoyance for the visiting back four, the midfielder lifted one free kick narrowly over the bar while later he supplied a terrific cross which Timmins nodded just wide.
Stirling started the second half hungry for goals. Neat work by David Hunt on the left created a chance for Jamie De Abreu but his long range attempt failed to trouble Aspden. The Sorrento ‘keeper was called into the action three minutes later though, bravely driving at the feet of De Abreu before holding onto the follow up shot by Roberto Lujan. Their best opening came on 70 minutes when Ludovic Boi’s marvellous through ball released De Abreu but the striker dragged narrowly wide of the upright.
That same pattern was replicated at the other end of the park where Foster headed into the bar and the follow up by Mirco was captured by Hugo. However, the hosts finally broke through on 86 minutes when Harnwell latched onto Adam Luca’s clipped ball over the defence and expertly placed his shot beyond the reach of Hugo. Stirling felt they should have had a penalty soon after but referee Hugh Best disagreed, despite Jamie Harnwell appearing to have looked have handled inside the area.
CONFIDENCE RESTORED AT FLOREAT (with Tim Lefort, Football West)
Floreat Athena will return to league action next week with renewed confidence after seeing off the National Training Centre 2-0 under lights at Litis Stadium last night. Goals in either half from Callum O’Connell and Phil Arnold gave Floreat their first win since lifting the Night Series trophy seven weeks ago. “It’s been a difficult season, it’s not been the start that we wanted, so it’s good to get a win,” said assistant coach Taki Nicolaidis. “What we want to do is to try to get back into good habits and we probably did that in patches tonight. We’ve just got to do a bit more during the week and then obviously we’ve got next week’s game against Perth.”
The outcome could have been very different had Blamo Quaqua’s effort from outside the 18-yard box in the opening seconds found the back of the net instead of bouncing off the upright. Floreat returned fire on 14 minutes when Mark Pritchard’s thunderous free kick crashed into the post, while at the other end Josh Risdon lifted over the crossbar. Floreat went ahead after 25 minutes, David Houston’s close range effort was blocked but O’Connell was on hand to blast in from point-blank range. Brandon O’Neill’s stunning strike from 30-metres clipped the bar as the NTC sought to equalise, while just before the break Floreat’s Garin Collins was unable to keep his volley from the edge of the area down.
Good chances were created at both ends of the park in the second half. David Houston’s looping header was caught under the bar by Tim Doyle, Alex Dunn tipped a superb long range strike by Sebit Oyet out for a corner while low strikes from Pritchard and O’Neill were past the post. Floreat stepped up as the game entered its closing stages and Ante Kovacevic’s long range attempt brought an acrobat save from Doyle, then an angled strike by Arnold smacked into the base of the post. The hosts got the goal they sought with one minute remaining, Arnold firing into the bottom corner after getting on the end of a cross from the right.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
Dorrien Gardens is the place to be on Saturday when Perth SC takes on ECU Joondalup in the seventh round of the 2011 Premier League (3.00pm). Perth went down to Joondalup two months ago in the Night Series semi-finals and Jason Dos Santos says his team learnt a lot from that encounter. “After watching from the sidelines in the Night Series, I’m confident if we play that same football again and finish our opportunities we will take all three points,” the midfielder said. Andreas Oliviera will undergo a late fitness test to determine what role, if any, he will play.
Team captain Dale McCulloch wants to see a substantial improvement from the Joondalup players following last weekend’s loss to Western Knights. “We were all very sluggish, there are no excuses - we just weren’t good enough,” said McCulloch. “It’s never an easy task playing Perth but in saying that we are going there looking for the three points and to bounce back with a much better performance.” Suspension means Scott Blackmore will sit out the game, Ross Anderson comes into the squad following his mid-week move, while Oliver McGee plays his final game before re-joining Bunbury.
Top of the table Balcatta are back on home turf to Inglewood United (3.00pm). John Migas and Daniel Micevski were instrumental in Balcatta taking the points home from Armadale last weekend when strike partners Steven Burton and Ashley Rosindale were on target. Inglewood are coming off a loss to Perth SC and enter the game without suspended defender David McNally. Darko Ilomanoski and Daniel Stoitis look set for a busy afternoon, while the midfield creativity of Ryan Clark, James Sammut and new signing David Perich will be vital to their chances.
Western Knights have home ground advantage against Cockburn City (3.00pm). Simon Versaico scored twice to lead the Knights to victory last time out, and with Glen Thomas and new signing James Morgan running the midfield coach Carl Medica has very good reason to be confident of extending their unbeaten run to seven games. Cockburn boss Tony Castiello, however, has other ideas and will need big efforts from Paul Natale, Adrian Webster and young gun Michael Grigo as the Cockerels come back from a two-game break.
Sorrento goes in search of their second win of the season when Stirling Lions call in at Percy Doyle Reserve (3.00pm). Former Perth Glory captain Jamie Harnwell and Cameron Yorke are back in contention for the Gulls, however, for Jack Doyle and Adam Luca to play a part they’ll first have to convince the coaching staff they have recovered from injury. Stirling are unbeaten in their last three outings and enter the game full of confidence. Bobby Wilson returns to the side after a lengthy absence due to injury, but Anthony Skorich and Gareth O’Connor are in doubt while Ross Anderson and David Perich left the club in mid-week.
A win is vital for both Mandurah City and Bayswater City when they meet at the Hyundai Stadium (3.00pm). These two clubs started the season strongly but have fallen off the pace in recent times. Mandurah will be sweating on the fitness of Ryan Townsend but regain the services of Jeff Bright, who will be a key figure alongside Andy Brown and Robbie Hamm. Bayswater coach Mauro Marchione has a few selection headaches with Larry Miller and Kailo Karpeh performing well off the bench last week, however, defender Cesar Gonzalez is in doubt due to injury.
SWAN, WANNEROO 90 MINUTES FROM NIGHT SERIES GLORY
The 2011 Division One Night Series comes to a conclusion on Saturday evening when Swan United takes on Wanneroo City in the tournament decider at Wotton Reserve (6.30pm). Both teams came through qualifying from Group A, Swan finishing top of the table before knocking out Morley Windmills on penalties in the semi final stage. Wanneroo caused an upset in the other round of four contest by defeating a Shamrock Rovers outfit that won all five group games.
Swan were pushed all the way in the semi finals by Morley, the teams finishing level at nil-all after 90 minutes with the black and whites emerging from the shoot-out triumphant. “It was tense right up till the final whistle,” Swan captain Rob Monterosso said. “Penalties are a nerve-racking and horrible way to determine a winner, but a win is a win and I can’t describe the amount of relief I felt when the deciding spot kick had been taken.”
Monterosso is tipping Saturday’s final to be similarly close. “It will be a tight affair, finals football always seems to be that touch more unpredictable with all the hype that comes with it,” he commented. “Wanneroo are a good side and quite damaging on the break and definitely won’t be underestimated. I think we have the right balance at the moment and with the building momentum of a solid pre-season and Night Series we are in good stead for maybe the first piece of silverware for Swan in a number of years.”
Wanneroo captain Brian Cairney says the win over Shamrock has provided his team a timely boost of confidence. “It was a great game to be involved in both teams - wanted it so bad - and it was a credit to the lads that we never gave up,” said Cairney, whose team twice came from behind to run out 4-3 winners. “We kept creating chances and pushing forward and eventually got the winner. It’s a credit to the manager (Gerry McEwan) for making some clever changes at half time.”
Cairney says nothing should be read into the outcome of Wanneroo’s group game with Swan, which the black and whites won 2-1. “We played Swan in the last group game knowing we had already made the semis and a few key players were rested,” he explained. “Swan were impressive in topping the group, so we’re happy to into the game as underdogs. It’s our second final in three years and Swan will want to show that they’re the team to beat this year … but it’s a final and whoever wants it most will win.”
WE’RE AIMING HIGH SAYS ASHFIELD COACH CARRUTHERS
There is renewed sense of optimism at First Division Ashfield where coach Matt Carruthers is confident his team can be a major player in the coming league season. Appointed in early March following the departure of Jamie Herbert, Carruthers and his assistant Scott McIlroy have been quietly tinkering away and are confident of a good year for the club. “Our approach is positive and we are aiming high,” said Carruthers. “The obvious area in which we’ve improved from last year is the strength we now have and the will the squad has to win.”
At the heart of Ashfield’s revival is an active recruitment campaign that has brought the likes of Mladen Kovacevic, Matt Wardle, Irish pair Karl O’Reilly and Brian Maybin, veteran Andy Bowyer, Martin Sherwin, goalkeeper Brad Eiffe and Ibnen Charming to the club. “We have demanded on and off the park we lift our professionalism as a club and obviously we wanted to build our own squad and bring players in that would suite that mould,” said Carruthers, who has been particularly impressed by his players’ commitment in pre-season.
Ashfield’s failure to chalk up a single Night Series win doesn’t at all concern Carruthers, who used the tournament to experiment a little in preparation for the winter ahead. “We took over the week of the second round of fixtures so decided to make the league our focus,” said Carruthers. “We used something like 26 players in the Night Series, including seven under the age of 17. The aim was for every player to have an opportunity to prove themselves … some will go back to the reserves and push for places, and some have stepped up.”
Carruthers’ optimism was borne out by the recent State League Cup clash against Floreat Athena. Ashfield appeared on course for an upset win over their top flight opponent after Kovacevic netted twice and O’Reilly once to open up a 3-1 lead, however, Floreat’s superior fitness ultimately proved the difference in bagging a trio of goal to score a dramatic victory. “We only put together what will be the basis of our first team against Floreat in the Cup,” explained the coach. “The boys really showed that we are up for it as a side and proved we can mix it with Premier League opposition.”
The Division One season, which opens on 16 April, is shaping up to be very tight with several teams in the running for top honours. “It’s always hard to tell because of the different approaches teams take to the Night Series, which is what we have to go on. However, on that basis alone I’d say Shamrock Rovers, Morley Windmills, Wanneroo City and Swan United are going to be the teams to beat,” commented Carruthers. “It’s going to be tight, I really can’t see as much between the teams as in previous years. But if I had to pick a winner it has to be Ashfield!”
Ashfield begin their campaign with a trip to Forrestfield United, a team Carruthers expects to also be towards the top of the table come September. “Forrestfield have been knocking on the door for a few seasons and building well, John (Hunter) has them well organised,” said Carruthers, who is confident Ashfield have it in them to start with a win. “We will be targeting three points as our first goal, its’ important we start positively. If we work hard and play with the intensity we are capable of then I’m confident we’ll get the result we want.”
LOCAL TRIO PRESS FOR NATIONAL SELECTION
Three of Western Australia’s brightest young prospects will press their claims for national team honours next week in Canberra. Goalkeeper Mark Birighitti, defender Trent Sainsbury and striker Eli Babalj, all 19, will be out to impress Olyroos coach Aurleio Vidmar and Young Socceroos boss Jan Versleijen during a six-day training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport. Another local product, 22-year old Perth Glory player Scott Neville, was also invited to attend but has been excused to take up trials with English side Portsmouth. It’s the second in a series of national team training camps for the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games qualifiers and this year’s Under-20 World Cup in Colombia.
STIRLING’S WILSON RARING TO GO
Bobby Wilson’s injury nightmare is almost at an end. The imposing 22-year old defender has been chomping at the bit to get back on the park after injuring his foot two months ago, and with an appearance on the bench last week he’s hoping to command a first eleven when Stirling Lions meet Sorrento on Saturday. “I’ve been trying and trying to con the physio and gaffer into letting me train but they’ve stuck up to me and kept me out. Now I see what they did has helped me a lot in the long run,” said Wilson. “Luckily I caught my foot before it actually fractured but it’s been a frustrating ten weeks.”
Although Wilson, whose resume includes a spell with Notts County, trained pain free last week coach Paul Lincoln chose not to risk him against Bayswater City. “It was a fantastic win against a tough Bayswater side. It was frustrating sitting on the bench as I’m eager to play every minute. But I knew I wasn’t quite ready and was more than happy to just be a part of it again,” said Wilson. “This week against Sorrento I will be available for selection but I will probably start on the bench. I know it’s a slow journey back from injury and I can’t wait to hopefully help the team out against Sorrento.”
Stirling have had a bad time with injury over the over the opening six weeks of the league season with numerous players forced onto the sidelines. “The squad is looking small at the moment,” commented Wilson. “We have a lot of young talent coming up and they are proving themselves on the big stage and if they are (in the line-up) then fair play. As long as we keep winning it doesn’t matter who plays - we are a team and everyone is involved.” Saturday’s clash at Percy Doyle Reserve between Sorrento and Stirling kicks off at 3.00pm.
STADIUM REDEVELOPMENT RED CARDED BY FOOTBALL WEST
Plans for a major redevelopment of Litis Stadium, home of Floreat Athena, have been axed following Football West’s decision not to relocate its administrative and training headquarters. The proposal involved the relocation of Football West from Maylands to Mt Hawthorn, with about 20 sports administrators to work from the site throughout the week. Junior representative teams and squads would have used the stadium for High Performance Program training.
Town of Vincent chief executive John Giorgi said the association’s decision was due to a number of factors, including lack of government funding after Australia’s unsuccessful bid to host the World Cup, community opposition to plans and an opportunity for Football West to co-locate with Perth Glory at Curtin University. “Football West has discontinued its plans to investigate the use of Litis Stadium for its administration offices and joint playing facilities,” Giorgi said.
The focus of the Litis Stadium master plan will now be on a scaled-down facility for local football, while plans for adjoining ground, Britannia Reserve, will progress as a separate item. “Despite the decision of Football West, the Masterplan for the redevelopment of BritanniaReserve will continue to be progressed and we look forward to developing the site for the benefit of the Vincent community”, concluded Giorgi. Football West chief executive Peter Hugg said while Litis Stadium had provided an ideal opportunity for establish a ‘Home of Football’, the redevelopment was always dependant on government funding.
I'M NOT LEAVING LIVERPOOL: JONES
Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones has rubbished rumours he is poised to leave the club. Jones, currently on loan to Derby County, took to 'twitter' to hose down 'Daily Mail' reports that he wanted to leave Liverpool in pursuit of regular first team football. "What idiot decided to put in the 'Daily Mirror' that I'm going to leave Liverpool? Completely untrue and really a poor attempt at a story," he said of the transfer rumours. Jones, 29, has made just two senior appearances for Liverpool since joining the club in August.
GIRLS READY FOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
The West Australia Under-13 Girls squad for this month's National Junior Championships has been finalised by coach Salv Todaro. The squad has been training together twice a week for the past two months and is ready to take on the best the nation has to offer in Canberra. "The squad has been training extremely hard and the improvement is evident," said Todaro. "The 1-4-3-3 formation was foreign to the girls at the start but they are working hard and appreciating the differences to how they normally play at their clubs. The attitude of all the girls is first class and their thirst for learning and improving is never ending."
The West Australia Under-13 Girls squad for the 2011 National Junior Championships is Courtney Hall (Bayswater), Baxter Thew (Busselton), Eliza Mitchell, Steffi Nadilo (Cockburn), Katherine Moore (East Fremantle), Sophie Hobson, Olivia Stowell (Heathridge), Emily-Rose Cabassi, Shauni Reid, Maddison Schofield (Kingsway), Alexia Moreno (Perth), Isabella Bridger, Sarah Kenny (Melville), Karla Edwards (Quinns), Xuxu Errington-Wood (South Perth) and Abbey Meakins (Wembley Downs). The team officials are Salv Todaro (coach), Lindsay Easton (manager) and Tracey Wheeler (physiotherapist).
ADELAIDE REJECT MOVE ON BIRIGHITTI
Melbourne Victory's bid to sign Young Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Birighitti from Adelaide United has been rejected. Melbourne officials would neither confirm nor deny their intent to recruit 19-year old Birighitti, however, Adelaide chairman Greg Griffin confirmed their interest but said the door was shut. "Hell would freeze over before we release Mark to Melbourne Victory," Griffin said. "We understand his frustration but he's a required player." For much of the past three seasons Birighitti has played second fiddle to Eugene Galekovic, who is understood to be on the radar of several European clubs, meaning the former Perth SC junior may finally get his chance to land the Reds No.1 shirt.
LIVING THE LIFE OF A KING
Teenage defender Tom King is finding his feet with English giants Liverpool. King, a first year scholar with the Liverpool Academy, is rated highly by his clubs' coaching staff and recently made his first start for their Under-18 team. "I love life here - it's brilliant," commented 16-year old King, who honed his skills with the National Training Centre for several years prior moving to Anfield Park. "I could do with some Australian weather but apart from that it's great."
King was born in Norway and spent three years living in Aberdeen before moving to Perth with his family. At the age of 12 he caught the eye of Manchester United and later attended trials with the Red Devils, Manchester City and Liverpool, who he joined in the middle of 2010. "When I came here my whole family stayed back in Perth," he explained. "But our family originates from England so there are still a few people around to support me. I've got grandparents who live in the Wirral and Preston as well as family in Warrington."
Injury prevented King from making an impact until recently but the teenager is determined to get as much game time under his belt before this season is out. "I've had a few injuries this year. I had a problem with my back, then I recovered from that and a week later I did my Achilles. Hopefully that's the end of my problems now because we have some important games coming up in the league," said King. "The morale in the squad is great. Everyone gets on really well. It's like a big family. Rodolfo (Borrell) makes sure everyone gets on. He's serious when he needs to be but he also has a laugh with us too."
Although he's keeping his international options open, King would like to one day wear the green and gold of Australia. "Well I'm Australian so I'd be proud to play for my country," he said. "I'd like to see myself in an Oz shirt but I'm open to playing for England at the moment. Let's see what happens. I have a long way to go before we start talking about that in realistic terms," he said. "When I was younger I looked up to Harry Kewell but injuries meant he never did as well as he probably could have at Liverpool. I also have to confess that I love Tim Cahill - even though I hate saying it because he plays for Everton!"
VELAPHI SET TO DEBUT FOR MELBOURNE
Melbourne Victory coach Mehmet Durakovic is set to hand Tando Velaphi his club debut in tomorrow’s must-win Asian Champions League clash with Tianjin Teda in China. Velaphi, 23, is in line to take his place between the posts ahead of veteran Michael Petkovic as Durakovic takes on punt on youth. “I just think Tando has done really, really well at training the whole month-and-a-half,” the caretaker coach said. “I’ve known Petka all my life, I just think it’s maybe time to give a youngster a bit of a chance and see what he’s like in a very important game.” With several fist team regulars injured Durakovic had also promoted Matthew Foschini (20) and Leigh Broxham (23) to the line-up.
STIRLING PREVAIL AGAINST BRAVE BAYSWATER (with Michael Bate, Football West)
Stirling Lions surrendered a two-goal lead but clawed they way back to win 4-2 against Bayswater City in an exciting game at Macedonia Park. Scott Muirhead and Jamie De Abreu scored within minutes of each other to put Stirling in the box seat only for the game to be turned on its head by an own goal and Gustavo Marulanda’s second half equaliser. Phil O’Callaghan’s penalty conversion snapped Bayswater’s momentum before Jamie Watt sealed three important points for the home side.
Despite some good passages of play in both directions there were very few clear chances during the opening half hour. The game sprang into life in the 32nd minute when Muirhead took full advantage of Alex Caniglia’s defensive slip by taming Ludovic Boi’s cross field ball which he crashed low into the far corner of the net. Another error two minutes later put De Abreu in a one-on-situation with Gianni Papalia with the striker calmly stroking past the advancing goalkeeper.
Bayswater felt they should have had a penalty when Michael Pugliese appeared to handle Marulanda’s effort during a goalmouth scramble but referee Michael Tolmie waved away their appeals. David Sesay, who came off the bench for the injured Josh Tumoe on 40 minutes, brought a fine save from Cory Hugo with his first touch of the ball. The Stirling custodian was beaten from the resulting corner with Tolmie ruling an own goal by a Stirling defender four minutes from the break.
The visitors continued take the game up to their more fancier opponent in the second half with some tidy movement of the ball leading to several half chances on goal. Their enterprise was rewarded in the 64th minute when Marulanda pulled them level with a brilliant volley that cannoned off the inside of the near post before crossing the line. This stung Stirling back into action and they immediately went looking to reclaim the lead but successive efforts by Watt and Muirhead were saved by Papalia
Stirling got their noses back in front after 68 minutes when George Tchami’s clumsy handball led the referee to point straight to the spot from where O’Callaghan coolly sent Papalia the wrong way. Watt made the points safe from a set piece, tapping into the net Brent Griffith’s flick on from Muirhead’s long throw into the 18-yard box. Bayswater continued to press right up until the final whistle with Sesay firing just wide and Marulanda’s effort well blocked by Hugo. The visitor’s day was best summed up in stoppage time when Sesay’s shot was cleared off the line by substitute Dave Hunt.
NO REST FOR WILLIAMS
Socceroo Rhys Williams has revealed he’s not taken a breather during the international break despite recently returning from an eleven-month injury absence. Williams, 22, has been working hard in the gym over the international break as part of an ongoing exercise programme to ensure his fitness. “The lads were off last week but I was in nearly every day,” Williams told gazettelive.co.uk. “I can’t afford to slacken off and put myself at risk of it happening again. So that’s why I’ve been in every day to work on it. It’s something that’s there all the time. Even in training I’m wary of it. But I don’t want to give less than 100 per cent in anything I do.”
The international break could not have come at a better time for Williams. “I’ve had three and a bit games in a very short period of time, after being out for almost a year. I think my performances have been OK since I came back but it’s a lot of football to play in a short period. The break has given me the chance to get in some rest,” he said. “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to where I am now, and I’ve been told that I will have to keep exercising and monitoring it for the next year to 18 months. I’ve got to keep working on the muscles and strengthening them.”
A midfielder by trade, Williams has been a revelation in his comeback games at centre-back. “I am happy just to be playing, whether it’s at the back or in midfield. I’ll play anywhere the gaffer wants me to play,” he said. “I think I can do a job in either position. I was an attacking midfielder back home in Australia but when I came here I switched to right-back to get games. I played in midfield when I came back from Burnley and I was there was most of the time before the problems developed.”
Williams also said he wouldn't settle for finishing the season off at 18th-placed Middlesbrough by simply avoiding the drop. “I am very ambitious. I want to be playing with the lads at the highest possible level,” he said. “I’m not happy with where we are in the league. We’ve got nine games left and we need to see how far we can get up the league before the season ends. We’ve been playing decent football. We have to approach every one of the games looking to win them. We have to finish the season strongly and then we have to carry it on next season and try to take the club back to where it belongs.”
SWAN HOLD NERVE TO DOWN MORLEY
Swan United moved to within 90 minutes of their first ever Night Series trophy after out-gunning Morley Windmills in a penalty shoot-out this evening at Wotton Reserve. With neither team able to hit the net in regulation time the game was sent to penalties with the black and whites triumphing 3-1 thanks to goalkeeper Daniel Agudelo, who brilliantly saved the two of Morley’s four spot kicks. Swan will meet Wanneroo City in the Division One Night Series final under lights at Wotton Reserve on Saturday.
The game could have been settled inside the first half had Morley made something of their chances. Phil Watson should have done better than lift high of the crossbar after being found unmarked at the back post by Andy O'Neill's penetrating cross after 18 minutes. A defence splitting pass by Leo Harman put Luke O'Neill one-on-one with the 'keeper but instead of shooting the attacker passed out wide and the chance was lost. Although enjoying their fair share of possession, Swan were limited to shooting from long-range through Rory Hollinghum and Trent Wood.
Morley continued to press after the turnaround but, like the first half, wasteful finishing proved their undoing. Having latched onto a through ball and made his way around the 'keeper Alex Cocking stroked against the upright, and five minutes later the same player chipped well over an unguarded net with Agudelo caught out of position. A looping Aaron Colli header was paddled over by Steve Grant as Swan finished strongly. With the clock fast ticking down Grant instinctively pushed wide John Momterosso’s shot on the turn after shrugging off his marker..
Swan made a dream start to the shoot-out with Agudelo’s stunning save leaving Leo Harman frustrated. Adam Pygrum fired in the black and whites first spot kick, Ian McKean did likewise before John Monterosso tipped the scales back in Swan’s favour. Agudelo guessed right to deny Steve Cowbrough, a miss which was compounded by Trent Wood’s conversion which made it three-one. Lee Thomas had to convert to keep Morley in the contest but his attempt struck the bar and triggered scenes of celebration in the Swan camp.
BALCATTA PUSH ON (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
Balcatta consolidated their position at the top of the Premier League with a comfortable 2-0 win against Armadale at Alfred Skeet Reserve. Stephen Burton got the visitors off to a flying start by netting after only a few minutes with Ashley Rosindale’s powerful second half finish sealing the points early in the second period. The win continues Balcatta’s fine start to the season which has seen them win five out of six starts and open up a four-point buffer at the top of the table over the Western Knights.
Balcatta were on top from as early as the 5th minute when Burton headed in after a meeting Rosindale’s wonderful cross with the outside of the boot from the left. That took Balcatta’s goal tally to 16 for the season and it was clear they wanted more. A free kick by Spencer Harris found Burton unmarked at the back post but the striker was unable to beat goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock, who later battered away fine shot by Jason Barrera. It was a frustrating first half for the host club who failed to create any meaningful chance on goal, much to the disapproval of their loyal supporters.
Rosindale needed only six minutes of the second half to double his teams’ margin, Burton breaking the offside trap by lifting the ball over the defence for his strike partner to race clear and lash into the roof of the net. Armadale pushed hard to find an avenue back into the contest and first half substitute Ali Paredes almost pulled a goal back but his shot from just outside the 18-yard box lacked the power to trouble Lewis Italiano.
Ross Diamond also found himself in a great position but he couldn’t force his effort goal bound after the ball spilled his way at a set piece. Burton could have added gloss to the score line late on when he was put through by Daniel Micevski, only to be denied yet again by an exemplary save from Sharrock. But it mattered little though as Balcatta came away with the three points and strengthened their position at the summit at the conclusion of the sixth round of league fixtures.
VERSAICO AT THE DOUBLE (with Tim Lefort, Football West)
Two first half goals from Simon Versaico gave Western Knights an impressive 2-0 victory over ECU Joondalup at the Edith Cowan University campus. Versaico struck twice in the space of seven minutes to maintain the Knights’ unbeaten start to the season and move them into second place on the table, four points behind pacesetters Balcatta. Joondalup’s miserable day at the office was compounded in stoppage-time when Scott Blackmore was dismissed for a second yellow card offence.
There were chances for both teams to take early lead with Stuart Montgomery angling a volley into the side netting before Jordan Dodd’s close-range effort was taken comfortably by Frazer Siddall. The Knights goalkeeper was given a sterner test after 25 minutes when he pushed John Thornley’s effort around the post. The Knights had the lead within two minutes as Versaico made no mistake from 6-metres after Glen Thomas’ speculative effort from the left edge of the 18-yard box deflected his way off a defender.
If there was an element of good fortune about the Knights opening goal, there was nothing lucky about their second after 34 minutes. Montgomery received the ball just inside the Joondalup half and, after playing a neat one-two with Branimir Mikulic, ran the ball to the by-line before delivering a pinpoint cross which a diving Versaico headed into the back of the net. Joondalup worked tirelessly to pull a goal back before the interval but found few holes in a defence under the command of David Annall and Stuart Ferguson.
The few chances of the second period came from the visiting team, Thomas volleying wide from 14-metres before Montgomery failed to get enough power behind his header to seriously test Andy Banks. Joondalup returned fire in the 65th minute via Ian McMurray whose effort following a corner was scrambled off the line. Five minutes later Siddall was forced to get down at his near post to keep out substitute Jordan Withey’s low strike.
The Knights were keen to finish the game as a contest. In the 73rd minute Mikulic pounced on a poor punch by Banks but his hooked shot from close range was cleared of the line by Oliver McGee. Thomas headed onto the roof of the net for the visitors, Versaico volleyed high from 14-metres and substitute Callum Roberts couldn’t direct his header on target from James Morgan’s cross. Blackmore, who had been booked with seven minutes left, was issued his marching order in with just seconds remaining.
Knights assistant coach Alex Christie was delighted with the three points and his side’s performance. “That (two first-half goals) set us up nicely,” said Christie, who called the shots from the sidelines as head coach Carl Medica served suspension in the stands. “We were a bit concerned about the way we were playing in the first half but obviously the two goals were a bonus. In the second half I knew they’d come at us but I thought we were pretty much in control of the game and it was a just result in the end.”
TEN-MAN INGLEWOOD SURRENDER TO PERTH (with Michael Barr, Football West)
Perth SC had three players on the scoresheet when they defeated home team Inglewood United 3-1 in their Round Six Premier League meeting. Craig Simpson put the visitors in front but that provide short lived as Ndumba Makeche brought the sides level just minutes later. Inglewood’s day took a turn for the worse when David McNally was sent off just after the half hour, with Dom De Felice and David Onoforo rubbing salt into the wound after the interval.
Perth almost scored inside a minute when Matt Danskin’s cross was volleyed goal ward by Onoforo who bought a superb reflex save from Oliver Taseski. Inglewood’s intelligent movement put the balance of play in their favour and presented an opening for Paul Dugdale who had goalkeeper Devon Spence scrambling to tip the ball over the crossbar. In the 21st minute Perth grabbed the lead against the run of play, Jason Dos Santos’ cross finding the head of Simpson who powered into the net.
Inglewood responded to the goal with renewed vigour and in the 27th minute struck a deserved equaliser. Alex Stamatiadis’ long ball opened up space for Makeche, who jinxed his way past Adam Bachillor before snapping the ball into the bottom corner. The home team suffered a devastating blow four minutes later when last defender McNally brought down Onoforo on the edge of the 18-yard box, leaving referee David Costello no choice but to issue a straight red card. This changed the whole complexion of the game and Inglewood did well to enter the break level.
Perth continued to pressure on the resumption of play and three minutes in the ball ricocheted to the feet of De Felice whose curling shot struck the right post and pinged into the net for a two-one lead. The boys in blue continued their onslaught but could find no way past Taseski, who kept Inglewood in the game with a series of brilliant saves. The game was finally made safe in the 76th minute when Danskin fed the ball to Onoforo, who dummied around his marker before poking the ball into the bottom corner for Perth’s third and the final goal of the afternoon.
GULLS FLY AWAY WITH THE POINTS
Sorrento registered their first win of the 2011 Premier League season by dismissing Mandurah City 2-1 under lights at the Hyundai Stadium. Shaun Timmins opened the Gulls account just moments after coming off the bench with captain Todd Harnwell doubling their lead midway through the second period. A superb final minute volley by Andy Brown was Mandurah’s only a consolation on a balmyevening.
The first opening came the way of vising midfielder Brodie Martin whose shot from the top of the 18-yard box was straight at Kenny Ftynogiannis. The new Mandurah goalkeeper remained in the thick of the action, pushing around the post a 16th minute shot by Jason Mirco that was heading for the top corner. Mandurah began to get more involved and seven minutes later Rafael Insauradale headed just wide from a deep Robbie Hamm cross.
Curtis Aspden prevented Mandurah from taking the lead soon after when Matthew Stares close-range header was well saved by the ‘keeper after another deep cross by Hamm was headed back across goal by Jake Loretto. The home side finished the half strong and were unfortunate not to go into the break one goal the better. In the 42nd minute Brown’s cross from the right picked out Loreto whose low shot from 10-metres was saved by Aspden.
Sorrento suffered a blow at the break with a knee injury forcing Jack Doyle out of the action. However, the switch paid immediate dividends for the visitors as with his first touch of the ball Timmins’ speculative cross which beat everyone and crept inside the far post, making it advantage Sorrento. Mandurah cold have had a quick reply but Broxton was thwarted by Daryl Platten before an unmarked Seb Bell headed narrowly wide from a corner.
The Gulls lead was doubled in the 64th minute when Aspden’s long clearance was collected by David Foster, who rode Ryan Townsend’s tackle and poked the ball through for Harnwell to cut past Ivan Zuvela before firing low into the net. It could have been three-nil moments later but Foster’s lob over an advancing Ftynogiannis bounced off the cross bar and away to safety. Mandurah pushed players forward and on 70 minutes Insauradale’s shot was blocked by Platten.
Mandurah were in need of inspiration and Brown tried to provide it with a long range shot that flew not too far high. Townsend exited the game through injury in the 78th minute but not before his shot on the turn whistled just past the post. With time running out Brown gave his team a glimmer of hope, rifling into the net from distance to bring the gap back to one-goal. However, hopes of a fairytale comeback were soon extinguished as Platten and Danny Cain locked things down to ensure a Sorrento victory.
Paul Price could not have been happier about Sorrento getting their first win on the board. “I thought we played well tonight. We’ve had a number of players coming back from long term injuries and it affects your fitness levels a bit, and we’ve been conceding late goals because of this, but it’s great to get the first win on the board this season,” said the coach. “It would have been nice to keep a clean sheet, but it wasn’t to be but we’re delighted to get the three points.”
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
The pick of this week’s Premier League game is Inglewood United’s home fixture with local rivals Perth SC (3.00pm). Inglewood came from behind to beat Sorrento last time out and defender David McNally is hopeful of a similar outcome on Saturday. “Perth is a huge challenge, everybody knows they are one of the best teams in the league and are very hard to beat,” said McNally, who is confident his team can take the points. “If we work hard and stick to our game plan we will come out on top.”
After a two-week absence from competitive football, Perth are focused on getting a result and moving back into the top half of the league table. “Training has been good so we will be looking forward to get back into action,” said goalkeeper Devon Spence. “It’s always a tough trip to Inglewood and they have brought in some good players, but we’re ready for the challenge … it should be a great game.” Coach Ronnie Campbell may be tempted to hand new signing Dean Apelgren his Perth debut.
Early pacesetter Balcatta head out on the road to fourth placed Armadale (3.00pm). Reds coach Scott Miller is likely to bring Jason Goodwin into the starting side in the absence of Warren Beattie (suspended), and will need Craig Young to be on top of his game if the home side are to get so much as a point from the afternoon. Competition for places in Balcatta’s eleven is red hot and coach Michael Roki has to decide if the time is right to promote John Migas and Daniel Niederberger to the line-up.
Its second verses third at the Edith Cowan University campus where ECU Joondalup hosts Western Knights (3.00pm). Ian McMurray can’t seem to stop scoring for Joondalup and will need to be closely watched, however, this could be the final outing for import defender Oliver McGee due to visa complications. The Knights are the competitions only unbeaten team thanks to a watertight defence marshalled by Frazer Siddall and supporting roles by Cormac Dawson and Garth Lecky.
On Saturday night the action switched to Hyundai Stadium where Mandurah City have home ground advantage against an as yet winless Sorrento (6.00pm). The Dolphins have not won at home this season and the contributions of Ryan Townsend, Jake Loreto and Lucas Whitehouse will be crucial in changing that. It has been a horror start to the season for Sorrento coach Paul Price, who will look for on-field leadership from Danny Cain and Jamie Harnwell, and to David Foster for goals.
Round six concludes on Sunday with Stirling Lions and Bayswater City going head to head at Macedonia Park (3.00pm). Stirling welcome veteran goalkeeper Cory Hugo into their squad as Ludovic Boi returns from suspension and import defender Bobby Wilson presses his claim for a recall from injury. Gustavo Marulanda scored twice for Bayswater last time out and the big striker’s contribution as well as those of Thomas Gooding and Larry Miller will be vital in the visitors ending a two-game losing streak.
ITS SEMI FINAL TIME IN DIVISION ONE
The business end of the Division One Night Series takes place on Saturday evening with Swan United taking on Morley Windmills (5.00pm) in the early semi-final at Wotton Reserve. Swan coach John O’Reilly has been pleased with the progress of his new-look squad but knows they face a tough time against a revitalised Morley outfit. “We’ve played well but haven’t put in a 90 minute performance - Saturday would be the ideal time,” O’Reilly said. “Salv (Todaro) is a good coach and has brought good players to Morley. It will be a close game and only a goal will separate the winners, let’s hope it’s us.”
Todaro is looking forward to taking Morley into their first Night Series semi final in over three decades. “The playing group have been training very hard and this is just reward for all their efforts and commitment,” said Todaro, who isn’t underestimating his opponent. “Swan has looked extremely strong during the Night Series and has put together a very formidable squad with Adam Pygrum, John Monterosso and Rory Hollinghum looking extremely dangerous. It should be a very exciting game.”
The late game had Wanneroo City up against an as yet unbeaten Shamrock Rovers (7.00pm). “Shamrock are a good side and a most welcome addition to Saturday football ... they’ve looked very impressive in their group games,” said Wanneroo coach Gerry McEwen. “We are in our third consecutive semi-final of the Night Series and have yet to win it, so we’re looking forward to giving it another go. I haven’t looked forward to a game as much for a long time and I’m sure anyone who comes to watch will be in for a treat.”
Shamrock won all five group games but coach Paul McCue is well aware beating Wanneroo is by no means a foregone conclusion. “We know Saturday’s game will be our toughest test of the Night Series so far, playing Wanneroo will let us know how far we are progressing,” said McCue. “We are well aware that it is still pre-season and that the games will be a lot tougher once the season starts, but the boys have been great so far and we are all excited about the season starting on the 16th (of April).”
PORTSMOUTH TRIAL FOR NEVILLE
Perth Glory young gun Scott Neville will commence a two-week trial with English club Portsmouth. Neville, who played his development years with Sorrento, heads to England this evening and is looking forward to the challenge offered by the Championship side. “I’m really grateful to be given this chance to head to Portsmouth and would like to thank everyone involved,” 22-year old Neville said. “To train and play at this level will be a great learning experience.” Neville, who played for Australia at Under-20 level last year, has been excused from next month’s Australian Olympic team training camp by coach Aurelio Vidmar.
Neville progressed up through the ranks at Sorrento and as a teenager established himself as a first team regular. In mid-2008 he joined Glory Youth but after only a handful of appearances he was promoted to the senior side, making his debut against Central Coast Mariners in December 2008. Neville signed his first professional contract the following season, and in 2010/11 he had the honour of wearing the captains’ armband in the absence of Jacob Burns. A favourite with the Glory faithful, Neville collected three trophies at the recent end of recent awards night as Players’ Player, Supporters Player and Clubman of the Year.
MCNALLY FINDS HIS FEET IN THE ‘WOOD
Some fine early season form has made summer recruit David McNally one of the players to watch at Inglewood United. McNally, who switched over to Inglewood from Swan United, has settled in quickly at his new club where he’s anchoring the defence. “Everything is going great at down at the ‘wood,” McNally said. “All the boys have made me feel welcome which has helped me to settle in. We have a big squad with at least three players for each position so training is always competitive and intense, which only improves the team’s performance on Saturdays.”
Something that swung McNally towards Inglewood was the opportunity to work with former national league player Shane Pryce. “It’s great to have Prycey as coach. He was a great defender when he played and has been working a lot on the defensive shape of the team,” said McNally. “He has high standards so all the boys work hard to impress him, which improves the overall performance of the team. I think I can learn a lot from him which will help me to improve my game.”
Inglewood has won two of their opening three games of the season, including the weekend’s 3-1 come-from-behind defeat of Sorrento. “It was a great win last week,” said 23-year old McNally, who concedes his team at times rode their luck. “We had a poor first half and were lucky not to concede more than one goal before half time. In the second half we scored early and this gave us momentum to go on and win the game. I think we were fitter than Sorrento and could have even won by a few more goals if we had taken our chances.”
McNally is amongst several new faces in the Inglewood camp and one of four players that made the following Swan’s relegation to Division One at the end of last year. “It’s good to have a few Swan boys at the ‘wood this year,” commented McNally. “I have been teammates with a couple of them for a few years now so I know how they play. I think the addition of Jimmy Sammut, Brendan Craig and Paul Dugdale adds quality and depth to the squad which is always a good thing …. with the players we have we will do well this year.”
BALCATTA STILL ‘GELLING’: PAVLOVIC
Tough-tackling defender Jovo Pavlovic has issued an ominous warning to rival clubs by saying top of the table Balcatta are yet to hit their straps. Pavlovic, 23, has been a key figure in a new-look Balcatta side that has taken the top flight by storm, winning four of their first five league games to claim outright leadership of the competition. “Things are great at Balcatta and it couldn’t have started better, we’re off to a flying start,” said Pavlovic. “Everything has gone well for us … the boys are gelling together well but we still have a way to go, that will happen as the season goes on.”
Pavlovic was one of six players who joined Balcatta during the summer from Floreat Athena, who they came face-to-face with last weekend. “It was always going to be a hard game for us and it was an intense game due to the off-season transfers between the two clubs,” said Pavlovic of his team’s 2-1 win. “We had to fight all the way to get the points. We dominated a good part of the game but they had late chances to nick all three points. We scored late to win our first home league game of the season.”
Summer trials in Asia could see Pavlovic on the move again before the State league season is out. “I headed to Thailand for trial games with Bec Tero Sasana and Osotopa Saraburi. It’s a good level of football and I fitted in really well and I thought I did well in the games and training but opportunities didn’t arise for me there,” he said. “But where one book closes another one opens and I meet a few people that were interested in taking me to the new Indonesian Premier League in June.”
Balcatta possess one of the competition’s most imposing defensive units marshalled by English import Adam Tong, a player Pavlovic admires greatly. “Tongy is great to play alongside, he’s tall, strong and a great defender and reader of the game,” Pavlovic commented. “We haven’t conceded many goals and long may that continue. He’s a great leader and I would say he’s probably one of the best defenders I’ve played with since I started playing first team football in WA.”
Spells with Swan IC, Bayswater City, Floreat and now Balcatta have established Pavlovic as a reliable, no-nonsense stopper. With Perth Glory set to take a closer look at the local stage, he hopes a strong winter with Balcatta can put him in the frame for a national league deal. “I’ve always wanted to play in the A-League and it would be a dream to play in it in my birth city,” Pavlovic said. “But at the moment I’m concentrating on my football at Balcatta and helping them reach the top five.”
That job takes Pavlovic to Armadale this weekend where he expects another difficult encounter. “It’s always a tough game at the Armadale ground but we head their full of confidence,” he commented. “Every time I’ve played there it’s always a battle and I’m sure Saturday will be no different. I believe it will be one of the toughest matches of the season so far.” Floreat takes on Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval from 3.00pm on Saturday.
ASHFIELD GIVE FLOREAT A SCARE
Floreat Athena scrapped through to the second round of the State League by coming from behind to defeat Ashfield 4-3 under lights this evening at Ashfield Reserve. New signing Mladen Kovacevic scored twice and Karl O’Reilly once to put Ashfield in the box seat early in the second half, cancelling out Liam Boland’s header just before the break. However, Phil Arnold, Boland and Miki Vujacic found the net in quick succession to steer the game in Floreat’s favour and, ultimately, set up a second round Cup meeting with Armadale.
Boland should have given Floreat a dream start but after rounding the goalkeeper he chipped onto the crossbar with an empty net beckoning. This set the tone for Floreat to control play throughout the opening half, with Ashfield constantly threatening to score on the counter attack. The visitors’ failure to sufficiently deal with Matt Wardle’s 34th minute corner was punished by O’Reilly, who tapped into from close-range after Ibnen Charming headed the ball back into the danger zone. Parity was restored just six minutes later when Mark Pritchard played out wide to Vujacic whose deep cross was headed into the corner of the net by Boland.
Ashfield could not have hoped for a better start to the second half, the hosts scoring twice in five minutes. Kovacevic restored their lead after 47 minutes by firing in from the edge of the 18-yard box after another failed clearance by Floreat. The writing looked to be on the wall for the visitors five minutes later when Bobby Irving’s clever switch of play again put the ball with Kovacevic, who gave Simon Madaschi no chance by lashing into the far corner of the goalkeeper’s net from 15-metres.
Floreat coach Ante Kovacevic immediately went to the bench, bringing on Michael Van Dongen and Daniel Trevisiol to tremendous effect. Arnold brought the gap back to one goal by firing into the bottom corner at the second opportunity after Vujacic’s initial shot had been blocked in the 58th minute. Trevisiol was put through one-on-one with ‘keeper Brad Eiffe but unselfishly laid it off for Boland to bring the sides level soon after.
Vujacic put Floreat in front for the first time in the 65th minute with a superb free kick from 26-metres that curled into the top corner. With this the visitors regained control and pushed on in search of further goals with Arnold and Vujacic leading the way. Ashfield were by no means out of the game and had it not been for Julian Madaschi’s timely intervention then the home side could well have equalised and taken the game to extra time.
SOCCEROOS STUN THREE-TIME WORLD CHAMPIONS
Australia produced one of the biggest wins in Socceroos' history by upsetting world heavyweights Germany 2-1 in an overnight friendly in Monchengladbach. Goals from David Carney and Luke Wilkshire in the space of three minutes in the second half set up the victory in front of just over 30,000 fans at Borussia Park. "I'm really proud of the boys and they did a great job and the only thing I said to them after the game was thank you very much from the bottom of my heart," coach Holger Osieck said. The wins consigns to history the 4-0 drubbing Australia received at the hands of Germany during last year's World Cup in South Africa.
Germany controlled the match from the start with Andre Schurrle probing passes threatening to unlock the Australian defence. Brett Holman could have snatched the lead for the Socceroos but volleyed just wide, while at the other end Lukas Podolski went close from a 21st minute free kick. The deadlock was broken six minutes later with a delightful goal, Thomas Muller's step-over allowing the ball to travel through to Schurrle and he held off two defenders before finding Mario Gomez, who weighted his shot perfectly in Mark Schwarzer's top corner. Podolski flashed a couple of free kicks wide as Germany sought a second, with Australia's best chance being a Mile Jedinak header that was straight at goalkeeper Tim Wiese.
The hosts continued to dominate after the break, however, the tide began to turn in the 61st minute when Matt McKay's delicate touch allowed Carney to race into the 18-yard box and slot under the oncoming goalkeeper. A minute later Harry Kewell's tormenting of the German defence paid off when he was brought down by Christian Trasch, referee Stephane Lannoy pointing straight to the penalty spot from where Wilkshire calmly beat a diving Wiese. Germany responded through Schurrle but Schwarzer raced out to block his shot. Sasa Ognenovski forced Miroslav Klose into shooting wide, while referee Stephane Lannoy booked the German striker for diving after he went to ground under pressure from Lucas Neill in the 89th minute.
A-LEAGUE AN OPTION FOR MADASCHI
Towering defender Adrian Madaschi could return to Australia next season after 13 years in Europe. Madaschi, 28, has been in fine form for Italian second division team Portogruaro this season but is out of contract in June and would be open to an A-League offer. "I'm looking to either settle something in Italy or look else- where - my options are open," said Madaschi. "My objective was to play regularly in Serie B this year and I've done that up to now. That's put me in a position where I could be of interest elsewhere as well. I'll explore all options that I have whether it's in Europe or on an Asian scale or in Australia."
Madaschi, who has not played for the Socceroos since 2009, was called into Australia's training camp in Duisburg last week and could yet force his way into coach Holger Osieck's World Cup plans. "I would like to think I'll still be eligible for the next World Cup," he said. "You don't know what's going to happen in the future but I'd like to think I could still be in contention for that." Madaschi has played in major international tournaments at under-17, under-20 and Olympic levels for Australia and has made five Socceroos appearances.
RUKAVYTSYA READY TO ANSWER THE CALL (courtesy the ‘West Australian’)
Nikita Rukavytsya is feeling the wear and tear of a long season in one of Europe's most demanding domestic competitions. But the former Perth Glory striker is ready to answer the Socceroos' call to take on Germany tomorrow at Monchengladbach's Borussia Park Stadium. Australia will be without Tim Cahill, the nation's most reliable source of goals in recent years, for a friendly encounter that will bring back painful memories for those men involved in a 4-0 loss to Germany at last year's World Cup.
Rukavytsya was part of the Socceroos line-up on that day and is determined to make amends for the capitulation should coach Holger Osieck turn to his electric pace in Australia's attack. "We still haven't forgotten that World Cup game and we're going to try to get a much better result than last time," Rukavytsya told the 'West Australian'. "It wasn't the best game, so hopefully this time we will go out there and put in a much better performance."
23-year old Rukavytsya left Australia two years ago, initially to take up a deal with Dutch side FC Twente before he was loaned to Belgian outfit Roeselare where his performances earned him inclusion in the Socceroos World Cup squad. Aside from the Germany defeat and the ultimate disappointment of failing to progress from the group stage, the World Cup was a great experience for the youngster, who joined Hertha following the tournament.
Rukavytsya admits to feeling the pinch of playing so much football in the past twelve months. "This is my first full year playing in Europe for a great club in a good league and I think I'm a much better player than I was a year ago, confidence wise and in terms of how I play," he said. "It's a massive club and playing every game is great. It's a tough league and we have a very good team so hopefully we'll go up to where we belong in the Bundesliga."
Cahill's absence has improved Rukavytsya's chances of playing under Osieck for the first time and he understands the importance of impressing Australia's new coach. "I'm not sure what the team will be," he said of his chances of starting against Germany. "It's disappointing Tim is not here but we'll have a great team and we have great players to replace him. Obviously I want to play from the beginning but if I don't I'll just do my best whenever I get a chance."
VILLA TEAM MATES HAVE THE WORLD AT THEIR FEET (courtesy the ‘West Australian’)
Chris Herd may have overtaken teammate and good friend Shane Lowry in the race to establish himself at English Premier League club Aston Villa but they are running neck-and-neck in the national team reckoning. The West Australia duo, who left Perth to enter Villa's academy system more than six years ago, were in Germany last week where Socceroos boss Holger Osieck and Olyroos coach Aurelio Vidmar were running an eye over some of Australia's most promising players.
Herd's mission was to highlight to Osieck that Villa boss Gerard Houllier's faith in the 21-year old, who has made seven appearances in England's premiership this season, has been justified. "It's nice to be considered and I've just got to show them what I'm about," said Herd, who has stepped up to the Premier League with little fuss against the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City.
The former ECU Joondalup midfielder has taken giant strides this season having broken into the Villa team under Houllier, and last weekend was in the starting line-up for a Premier League match for the first time. "For the last six years, I've been trying to get there so this is massive for me," Herd said. "The gaffer and his staff have been really good for the youngsters. They've come in and looked at everyone and given everyone a fair go."
Villa have been hit with injuries to some key personnel and Herd has been called on to slot into unfamiliar roles at right back and centre-half, not that he is complaining. "I've been at the club coming up for seven years now so I'm comfortable with the players and I'm confident in my own ability," said Herd, who played for Australia's under-20 team two years ago. "At the moment, the gaffer sees me as a right back and he thinks I can play there so I'm just focusing on that."
For Lowry, 21, the camp was an opportunity to show Osieck that he is even better now than when he impressed Australia's previous coach, Pim Verbeek, in the lead-up to last year's World Cup. Lowry was involved in Australia's initial selection before the final, cruel cut ended his participation in South Africa. "To just miss out was a big disappointment for me but at the same time I got a taste for it and that's what I want in the future," he said. "For the next World Cup, I want to be right in the mix … be part of the team."
Lowry, who also came through the fertile development ground of ECU Joondalup, has been loaned to English Championship club Sheffield United where he experienced first-hand the game's cutthroat nature this season. The Blades are in danger of relegation to England's third tier and the pressure to perform is on. "We are at the wrong end of the table but that stands me in good stead because playing under pressure and fighting for points every week is what first-team football is about," he said.
The defender found himself the target of some abuse recently during an important derby win over Leeds United, for whom he played on loan last season. "I really wanted to beat them and I copped a bit of stick off the fans," he said. "But for the club it was a big game and a really good win for us." Continued game time at the Championship level and perhaps even in the Premier League with Villa, where he has another year to run on his contract, will is sure to keep Lowry in the Socceroos frame.
TOMBIDES 'THE NEW KEWELL' SAYS WEST HAM MANAGER
West Ham United manager Avram Grant believes former Stirling Lions junior Dylan Tombides has the potential to emulate Socceroos great Harry Kewell. 17-year old Tombides further pushed his case for a senior berth this week by scoring in the reserves' win at Blackpool, backing up his recent double against Arsenal's reserves. "Harry was a good player, I like him, and I think Dylan has the potential to do it," Grant said. "I think he can be good for Australia; I am sure about this ... He is a different player to Harry, but he has the potential to be like him."
Tombides, who is almost certain to wear the green and gold of Australia at the Under-17 World Cup in June, has progressed steadily up the Hammers ranks since joining the club two years ago. He started the current the season with the academy team before being fast-tracked into the senior set-up by Grant, who revealed the striker could make his first team debut before the season is out. "It's difficult with the position we are in but he might even play before the end of the season when we are fighting relegation," the Hammers manager said.
DERBY LOOK TO JONES FOR SURVIVAL
Brad Jones has a big role to play in Derby County's attempt to stave off relegation from England's Championship. Jones, 29, will be a Rams player for the remainder of the season after agreeing late last to a loan move away from Liverpool, where he has been out of favour with manager Kenny Dalglish. "Brad fits the bill perfectly," Derby boss Nigel Clough said. "He has Premier League experience, Football League experience and most importantly big game experience. We have some big games coming up between now and May and he will be our number one in them. He hasn't had much first-team football this season, so I am pretty sure he will be looking forward to the challenge."
BALCATTA ESCAPE WITH THE WIN (with Michael Bate, Football West)
Balcatta remain on top of the Premier League pile after grinding out a 2-1 win over Floreat Athena in front of a large and vocal crowd at Grindleford Reserve. Having led for most of the afternoon through Daniel Micevski’s 17th minute opener, Balcatta looked to have surrendered the win when substitute Phil Arnold pulled a goal back for fast finishing Floreat. But just four minutes later striker Ashley Rosindale popped up to fire in on the rebound and win the game for Balcatta.
Floreat dominated the first half and should have gone ahead after 3 minutes when Liam Boland lifted high of the crossbar after being touched past the defence by Jarred Smith. That miss was punished when Micevski ran onto a sublime through ball by Steve Burton which he swung into the net past the despairing arms of goalkeeper Alex Dunn. Terrific defending at both ends of the park meant there were very few other additional openings created by either side before the break.
Micevski had the ball in the back of the net again just two minutes after the break but an offside flag disallowed his finish. The longer the game went the more likely it appeared Floreat would score. Max Elliott was unlucky when his header flashed just past the post after meeting a deep Miki Vujacic corner.
The visitors were deservedly back on level terms in the 80th minute, Arnold showing great composure in tucking past Lewis Italiano after getting on the end of Calum O’Connell’s delightful diagonal ball over the defence.
There should have been even wilder celebrations in the Floreat camp three minutes later when Boland got down the left and crossed to an unmarked Arnold on the edge of the 6-year yard box, however, the striker opted to lay the ball back to Mark Pritchard and the shot on goal was lost. Play swung almost immediately to the opposite end of the pitch where Mo Atak’s low shot was pushed onto the post by Dunn, and at the follow-up it was Rosindale that showed his predatory instincts by firing across the ‘keeper for the games winning goal.
Balcatta coach Michael Roki admitted that the links between his current and former clubs may have had an influence on the game, but he was keen to stress that the victory was bittersweet. “We addressed that issue during the week and it may have played a part in the game, but we wanted to make sure everyone was focused on getting the three points,” said Roki. “It’s not sweet - it’s bittersweet in some ways, beating your old club. But at the end of the day we’re here to do a job for Balcatta and I think the boys carried that out pretty well.”
JOONDALUP PREVAIL IN A THRILLER (with Michael Barr, Football West)
A ten-man ECU Joondalup have survived a spirited second half revival to defeat Bayswater City 3-2 at Frank Drago Reserve. A strong first half performance by the northern suburbs outfit laid the foundation for the win with Jon Higgins and Ian McMurray pitching in with early goals. Gustavo Marulanda scored twice to bring the hosts back into the game, however, the deficit proved to be too great with John Thornley securing victory from the penalty spot. The win lifts Joondalup into second on the Premier League Standings, two points behind pacesetters Balcatta.
The first chance of the afternoon fell to Bayswater captain Damien Catalano whose volley was pushed over the crossbar by Andy Banks. Joondalup soon enough established control and in the 14th minute Higgins worked his magic, bending a superb free kick from 22-metres into the top corner of Gianni Papalia’s net for a one-nil lead. Bayswater responded with a string of unconverted attacks, Cisco Jorquiera forcing a top save from Banks before setting up an unmarked Larry Miller who slammed into the side netting. These misses were compounded in the 31st minute when McMurray latched onto a long ball and dribbled a shot through a sea of legs to bring up the visitors second goal.
The second half saw Bayswater emerge with an aggressive attitude led by Marulanda who, in the space of a few minutes, rattled the upright then had a shot drift just past the target. The game turned on its head in the 61st minute when substitute Ryan McDarby’s exuberant tackle earned him a straight red, leaving Joondalup to play the final half hour with ten men. Bayswater almost took immediate advantage when Joshua Tumoe strolled into space only to drill the ball narrowly wide. The hosts resurgence appeared to be over after Thornley converted a 76th minute penalty onto the bottom corner after the striker was brought down inside the 18-yard the box.
Although three-goals down Bayswater were by no means out and a minute later the gap was back to a single strike, Marulanda gathering possession on the edge of the area before sending a powerful shot past a flat-footed Banks. This breathed new life into the home side and their confidence sky rocketed accordingly. Three later Marulanda again tamed the ball, drive inside the penalty area and this time slotted another goal under the ‘keeper. In a tense finale Catalano came closest to earned Bayswater a share of the points when his curling 86th minute shot struck the post.
WASTED OPPORTUNITIES RUIN STIRLING’S DAY (with James Wragg, Football West)
Stirling Lions were left to rue missed opportunities as Western Knights held on to record a 0-0 draw from their game at Macedonia Park. The home side dominated the afternoon with some eye catching football only to let themselves down in the finishing department, as coach Paul Lincoln well recognises. “We battered them in the second half today,” he said. “I think we’ve had four one-on-ones, the boys have to finish one of those because if you don’t you are lucky you don’t get beaten but. I was a bit disappointing we didn’t capitalise on the opportunities we created.”
Chances on goal were few and far between in a first half controlled by the home side. Knights custodian Frazer Siddall did well to parry a powerful strike by Phil O’Callaghan, who pulled his follow-up effort across the face of goal. Anthony Skorich started a flowing move in the 28th minute by playing the ball out wide to David Perich whose centring pass was stepped over by Jamie Watt and Scott Muirhead’s shot drew another fine save from the goalkeeper. O’Callaghan also had a close-range header saved by Siddall after Ross Anderson’s deflected shot sat kindly for the striker.
With the heat starting to take a noticeable effect on the players after the break it was Stirling’s forward line which wanted to capitalise. O’Callaghan was in the clear but shot into the arms of Siddall in a one-on-one, then Roberto Lujan found only the side netting after being picked out by Perich’s great cross field pass. A thunderbolt from Scott Muirhead was just over the crossbar as Stirling continued to pile on the pressure. The Knights were playing on the counter attack but lacked direction going into the final third where Branimir Mikulic and Stuart Montgomery were forced to fight for every ball.
Stirling were within a coat of paint of having the lead when Muirhead’s free-kick beat Siddall but came back off the inside of the post. Muirhead was instrumental again when his cross found Jaime Watt who tapped into the net only the striker to be called up for offside. Substitute Jamie De Abreu squandered another one-on-one chance by poking way over the bar when he seemed certain to score. The Knights could have snuck victory with the game’s final chance which had Duncan Hind head high a delightful cross from Montgomery. But it was honours even as referee Michael Jasinski blew for full time soon after.
MAKECHE ORCHESTRATES INGLEWOOD’S REVIVAL (with Tim Lefort, Football West)
Inglewood United overturned a half-time deficit to record an impressive 3-1 victory over a ten-man Sorrento at Percy Doyle Reserve. Ryan Pearson put the hosts’ ahead only for second half strikes by Rory Grant, Ndumba Makeche and substitute Paul Dugdale to give Shane Pryce’s team all the points. “I was very happy with the way we came back,” said the Inglewood coach. “We’ve still got a few things to sort out at the back but I think with the pace we’ve got up front and the quality we have up front, we’re always going to be a threat. The way we play allows us to attack on the break and we’re well suited to that and we did it well today.”
Despite a lacklustre opening there were early chances at both ends of the park but Grant and David Foster sent the ball wide. It was the home team which was celebrating after 21 minutes when Pearson made no mistake with a simple header at close range after Darko Ilomanoski inadvertently headed Jason Mirco’s deep cross against the crossbar. As half-time approached Sorrento took their game up a notch and Jamie Harnwell deflected the ball narrowly wide following a Stuart Banks corner. Jack Doyle dragged wide from 15-metres, and soon his attempted chip of Oliver Taseski was tipped over by the back-tracking goalkeeper. The half ended with another fine save from Taseski, this time to deny Foster.
Whatever Pryce said to his players during the break worked wonders as within two minutes of the restart they had equalised. The impressive Makeche did well on the left and when his low cross came over Grant was on hand to poke the ball in at close range. Nine minutes later Inglewood were ahead courtesy of Makeche’s vicious blast from 23-metres that gave ‘keeper Curtis Aspden no chance. Sorrento’s problems deepened in the 61st minute when Cameron Yorke was shown a straight red card after bringing down Makeche on the edge of the 18-yard box.
Makeche was proving a constant threat to the home defence and on 67 minutes he cut inside and drove a low shot from 18-metres at Aspden, and later the livewire striker sent another shot from distance just past the junction of post and bar. Inglewood were rewarded for their dominance with nine minutes remaining when Dugdale latched on to a cutback and arrowed the ball into the top corner from 16-metres. Although two goals down, Sorrento didn’t give up and substitute Kyle Moran blaze into the side netting while Jamie Harnwell had both a header and a shot on the turn comfortably saved by Taseski.
GOODWIN GETS ARMADALE HOME (with Jordan McArdle, Football West)
A late strike by veteran Jason Goodwin earned Armadale a hard-fought 1-0 win against Mandurah City from the twilight fixture at Alfred Skeet Oval. The win moves the Reds into fifth position on a congested Premier League table where four points is all that separates eight teams. The home side came out with all guns blazing in search of an early goal, however, athletic glove work from Phil Straker made sure the teams remained on level terms. The pressure on Mandurah intensified in the 28th minute when Jeff Bright was sent off his a second bookable offence. Armadale continued to press but were denied the lead by a combination of sloppy finishing and desperate defending.
Anthony Campbell went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock in the 58th minute when his shot was miraculously saved by an outstretched Straker. The game took another twist four minutes later when referee Tim Mihevc had no choice but to red card Warren Beattie following a horrific tackle on Jake Loretto. The injection of Ali Paredes breathed new life into the Reds attack, and renewed hope for the home supporters. Armadale finally found the goal they were after on 81 minutes when Goodwin, who’d come off the bench at half time, made the most of a Marlon Ramirez cross. Mandurah worked hard to salvage a point but with time running out it proved in vain.
PERTH OUTGUN NTC (with Elle Mitaros, Football West)
An experimental Perth SC came out on top of the National Training Centre by 2-0 at Dorrien Gardens. David Onoforo fired the home team in front from the penalty spot but it wasn’t until close to the end that Jason Dos Santos sealed victory. “We played well against NTC. They’re a good side with a variety of great players,” said Onoforo, who was pleased with how his team performed, given the sweltering afternoon heat. “We came out on top today because we didn’t play the game like it was a friendly. We played with tenacity.”
The opening passages weren’t pretty to watch with both teams lacking accuracy in the search for an early goal. It wasn’t until the 20th minute that the home team found their feet but Onoforo’s precise shot was met by the safe hands of goalkeeper Tim Doyle. Moments later a desperate tackle by Hanafi Ghazali resulted in a penalty to Perth which Onoforo effortlessly tucked low into the net for a one-nil lead. The Perth captain could have had another goal ten minutes later but Doyle did enough to prevent the ball from crossing the line.
Although their backs were to the wall, the NTC were determined to equalise in the second half but found it difficult to break down the home backline. Blamo QuaQua’s accurate through ball into the 18-yard box found Sahr Musa only for Perth custodian Jason Saldaris to block his attempt on goal. The result was put beyond doubt in the 77th minute when a free kick into the area produced a goalmouth scramble during which Dos Santos found enough space to fire into the net.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
The pick of this week’s is the blockbuster between Stirling Lions and Western Knights at Macedonia Park (3.00pm). It’s been a difficult start to the season for Stirling coach Paul Lincoln, who is looking forward to Saturday’s game. “Each week is a tough proposition in this league and taking on the Knights will be another challenge for us,” he said. “We will do what we can to make it hard for them and hope we can restrict the likes of (Stuart) Montgomery, (Branimir) Mikulic and (Simon) Versaico.” Teenager Connor Campbell is likely to line-up in goal should James Turvill fail a late test on an injured knee.
The Knights are the Premier League’s only unbeaten side coach Carl Medica is well aware he has his work cut out keeping it that way. “I know Linc’s will have his boys fired up and he probably wouldn’t be happy with their start of the season,” commented Medica. “But as we all know it’s a very long season and I’m sure he will have them focused on the task ahead.” A late fitness test will determine whether Paul Cooke (groin) has a role to play this weekend as Luka Jukic and Callum Roberts came back into the squad following injury.
Top of the table Balcatta go seeking their first home win of the campaign when Floreat Athena visits Grindleford Reserve (3.00pm). Balcatta coach Michael Roki won’t be underestimating his opponent despite their lowly position on the league table. “Floreat have the bye/NTC break after this so they can’t improve their standing for two weeks, after which they play Perth SC,” he said. “There’s no more dangerous opponent than one with its back to the wall so it would be a huge mistake for us to under-estimate them at all.” John Migas and Daniel Neiderberger are back in training and may come into contention pending fitness.
Taki Nicolaidis, assistant coach at Floreat, is confident his team can extend their unbeaten run to three games against his former mentor. “Balcatta are a good team in fine form at the moment and it will be a tough test for us,” said Nicolaidis. “Knowing Michael for as long as I have I’m certain that he will have his team well drilled for this game and I’m sure he will have a surprise or two up his sleeve.” Former Wales youth international Mark Pritchard comes into the Floreat squad, however, James Isaia remains missing due to injury.
It’s third against fourth as Bayswater City takes on ECU Joondalup at Frank Drago Reserve (3.00pm). Talented winger Joshua Tumore and attack-focused pair Cisco Jorquiera and Gavin Knight have important role to play as the home team attempts to rebound from last week’s heavy loss to Balcatta. Joondalup have made a strong start to the year and coach Syd Amphlett no doubt has them primed to claim another three points. Ian McMurray has found the back of the net the past two weeks thanks to some fine service out of midfield, while Oliver McGee marshals in imposing defensive line.
Sorrento are hopeful of registering their first win of the season when Inglewood United swings by Percy Doyle Reserve (3.00pm). The Gulls were denied victory by a stoppage time equaliser last time out and only three points will satisfy coach Paul Price on Saturday. David Foster is back from long-term injury, while Curtis Aspden and Jamie Harnwell will be important figures in their cause. Inglewood are coming off the bye and the efforts of David McNally, Dannie Richman and Brendan Craig will be vital if they are to come away so much as a point.
Armadale have a tough home date with Mandurah City (3.00pm). The Reds have one win from four starts and their fingers are crossed influential midfielder Jason Goodwin is available after missing last week’s game, while the contributions of Craig Young, Parys Okai and Matt Bennion are going to be similarly vital. The addition of Tommy Jones and Jake Loreto has brought some bite to a Mandurah line-up that features former national league players Jeff Bright and Ryan Townsend. The development round fixture has Perth SC on home soil to the National Training Centre (3.00pm).
BURTON OFF TO A FLYING START
Englishman Steven Burton will long remember his Premier League debut after scoring a hat-trick in Balcatta’s 5-1 top of the table demolition of Bayswater City. Burton, a former Ipswich Town and Doncaster Rovers player, is clearly enjoying his time down under and could not have wished for a better debut. “I was pleased to get a hat trick on my debut, it’s quite a rare achievement and something I’m really proud of,” said Burton, who says Balcatta are still warming up. “From what I’ve seen in training there is more to come from us so it’s positive we get these kinds of results not firing on all cylinders.”
Burton, 27, chose to play his football in Perth on the recommendation of team mate and close friend Craig Bentham. “Craig moved too Balcatta last year, and when I asked about the possibility of moving to Perth when I lost my job in England he basically offered me a house to live and also would speak with the manager for a trial,” explained the striker. “I have settled into life in Perth, mainly due to the fact one of my best mates (Bentham) is already over here. Having the additional English lads in Ashley Rosindale and Adam Tong being neighbours has also helped massively.”
>From playing as a youth for Ipswich, Burton’s career has taken him from Doncaster Rovers, Scarborough, Crawley Town, Tamworth, Kettering Town and Bradford Park Avenue prior to joining Balcatta. “I was a full time footballer up until a few years ago but I decided the dream of playing at the highest level had gone so decided to get a job and see football more as a hobby,” explained Burton. “I’ve enjoyed my football where ever I’ve played but my highlight was being part if back-to-back promotions with Doncaster Rovers from the Conference to League One, plus scoring a header on debut for them in front of all my family and friends against Morecambe."
It was clear early on to coach Michael Roki that Burton brought something extra to the teams attacking department. “From his first training session we saw Steve had strength, great technique and a keen eye for goal,” explained the Balcatta coach. “Whilst we already have a mobile strike force we believe Steve will be a great asset to us with his ability to hold the ball in the front third, further bringing our other strikers into scoring positions … and after Sunday we’re pretty sure he might score a few goals himself.”
Heading down under has opened a new chapter in Burton’s career, one he is keen to embrace. “Everyone at Balcatta has been great. We have quite a young side - I think I’ve come in as one of the oldest. They are all keen to learn and progress so we seem to constantly push each other,” said Burton. “The coaching staff are great. Michael Roki is a very positive guy and a great coach, his sessions are all based around ball work and playing football in the right way so this suits my game as I love having the ball on the deck.”
And should the opportunity arise for Burton to step up to the national league? “My sole aim is to help Balcatta be successful, but of course if an opportunity came along like that I would be interested. Everyone surely would want to play at the highest level and I’m no different, I would be interested to see how I’d fair,” commented Burton. “The standard over here is good, but it’s very hard to compare the leagues in England to the Premier League. I could see Balcatta competing for (England’s sixth tier) the Conference North, that’s the sort of level it would compare with.”
BANKS TAKES HIS OPPORTUNITY
Goalkeeper Andy Banks has played a big part in ECU Joondalup’s rise to fourth in the Premier League after the first month of competition. The retirement of former Portsmouth shot-stopper Andy Petterson last year opened the door for Banks to step into the senior line-up where the 34-year has been in terrific touch. “Well for me this season is going great,” said Banks. “I worked hard in the pre-season, had a decent Night Series and took that form into the first few games in the league which was pleasing.”
Joondalup came from behind last time out with Ian McMurray and Oliver McGee scoring to see off Cockburn City 2-1. “We had to bounce back from a disappointing display the week before against Armadale,” commented Banks. “We dominated early proceedings but found ourselves one-nil down at the break. We had a strong breeze behind are backs in the second half which helped, and we got the two goals to go on and win. It could have been four or five in the end but we’ll take the win.”
One aspect of Joondalup that has particularly impressed Banks this year is the increased competition for places in the first eleven. “It’s a lot more professional this year and the lads are responding to it,” the ‘keeper said. “It’s good that Syd has put a strong side together and there’s competition for places. In the past the bench has been made up of young lads from the reserves, whereas now if anyone has a bad game they could find themselves on the bench for the next game.”
Banks, whose background includes a stint with English club Preston North End, is a key figure in the plans of Joondalup boss Syd Amphlett. “Andy came to use last season and has waited patiently for his opportunity in the side. He has been approached by a number of clubs but has shown loyalty to me and the club,” said Amphlett. “Andy is well liked around the club and we believe he is one of the best ‘keepers in the league. He has seen we are trying to build a winning mentality at the club and he wants to be a part of it.”
Joondalup travels to Bayswater City this weekend when another three points will consolidate the northern suburbs a top three place. “It will be a tough game on a tight pitch, and they will be looking to bounce back from last week’s heavy defeat (5-1 to Balcatta),” said Banks. “They have some tricky players and we will certainly have to keep Gavin Knight, who I know from the UK, quiet up front. But the boys are confident after the start we have had and we just need to keep the momentum going.” Joondalup visits Bayswater at Frank Drago Reserve from 3.00pm on Saturday.
JONES ON HIS WAY TO DERBY
Liverpool’s Brad Jones is poised to ease Derby County’s goalkeeping problems by joining the English Championship side on loan. Derby were prompted to move for Jones, who has played for Australia three times, after Hull City recalled Matt Duke from his loan spell with the Rams. Jones, 29, is likely to feature in derby’s final eight games of the season, becoming the fourth player they’ve used between the posts in 2011/12 begin Stephen Bywater, Frank Fielding and teenager James Severn. He joined Liverpool from Middlesbrough last summer on a three-year deal but has been limited to just two first team appearances this season for the Reds.
APELGREN ON THE MOVE
The opportunity to play for West Australia’s top club has taken former State player Dean Apelgren to Perth SC. The versatile 25-year old recently brought to an end his three-year association with Floreat Athena in favour of basing himself at Dorrien Gardens. “For as long as I’ve been playing in the league Perth have been the top club,” said Apelgren. “There’s not been too many times when my team has got the better of Perth over the years so I figured if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em ... plus, they play in blue so I didn’t need to buy new boots that match their strip!”
The move to Perth has been relatively seamless for Apelgren thanks in part to the numerous established friendships he has within both the playing and coaching groups. “Being the token (black guy) is tough, but I’m used to that now and I’ve settled in well,” commented Apelgren. “I’ve known most of the playing group and coaches for a while. Kramer (Greg Sharland) is one of my best mates, Dave (Onoforo) is my girlfriend’s brother-in-law and I’ve played junior, school and State football with most of the other boys.”
The decision to leave Floreat, where Apelgren collected a State League Cup winners’ medal in 2009, was one of the toughest the midfielder has had to make. “When I signed for Athena it was to win trophies. I intended on spending the rest of my career there. Unfortunately that isn’t how it panned out,” he said. “With the squad we had we underachieved and after so many players left in the off-season I wasn’t 100% confident we were going to challenge for trophies this year. It’s a great club with a lot of great people and I hope they can turn things around.”
Apelgren has not stepped onto a football pitch in close to twelve months as a result of a fractured metatarsal in his left foot. “Due to the nature of the break I had to get a screw inserted into the bone and unfortunately it didn’t heal as quickly as expected,” said Apelgren, who rues not paying more attention when the injury first occurred. “It was originally a hairline fracture that I played on for about six months. It was starting to get more and more painful each week but stupidly I continued to play through it and eventually it gave way.”
Now back in full training, Apelgren plans to get a few games under his belt in the reserves before putting his hand up for first team selection. “Depending on how the next week or so goes on the training track, I’m hoping to get a bit of game time with the reserves and hopefully work my way into the first team in the not too distant future,” said Apelgren. “I’ve been in full training for the past three or four weeks and I’m feeling more confident on it each week. Hopefully it’s all behind me now and I can enjoy a successful period with Perth.”
SKORICH ENJOYING LIFE WITH THE LIONS
Anthony Skorich is hopeful a strong with Stirling Lions can propel him back into national league contention. The 21-year old striker responded to his axing from the Perth Glory squad last month by immediately plotting a course back into professional football. “It was a little disappointing to be cut from the Glory but I didn’t let it affect me. The next day I was thinking of my next move and excited for a new chapter,” explained Skorich. “Obviously having the taste of pro-football is spurring me on to get a contract elsewhere, but for now I’m concentrating on playing well here and winning every game for Stirling Lions.”
Several local clubs sounded out Skorich in the days following his Glory release with the striker opting to play the winter with Stirling. “I had interest from a few clubs but I choose the Lions. I’ve always thought they’ve been a very well-run club and this year should be at the top of the table or there about. Playing in the State League previously you dislike many other clubs, but Stirling was always one I was alright with,” said Skorich, who previously played for Western Knights. “I’ve settled in at the club very quickly, I knew a few of the boys before I had got there and they’ve all welcomed me into the team.”
There are a number of new faces in Stirling’s squad for 2011 and Skorich, who debuted recently against Perth SC, says players new and old are still getting to know each other. “Like most teams that have a lot of new faces, it’s going to take us a few weeks to unite but I’m very confident after a few games with a consistent line-up in place we’ll rack up a lot of consecutive points,” said Skorich, who was happy with how his new club ground out a win last week at Armadale. “To be honest the game was very average, however, if we want to move up the table you must win those scrappy affairs.”
Stirling coach Paul Lincoln expects Skorich, who made 14 appearances for Glory last season, to play a major role in his club’s quest to claim silverware in 2011. “It is terrific to have a quality player like Anthony in the squad,” commented Lincoln. “He knows how to finish and is good in the air. I think his best position is up front and he hasn’t played that roll for me yet, but I expect Anthony to dominate at this level especially after he has a few more games under his belt.”
Skorich played juniors for Phoenix Park prior to joining the Knights where he made his first team debut at the age of 17. Within a year he’d put pen to paper with Glory and an experience he had previously only dreamt of. “It was a great insight for me into what football is like at the next level,” said the Stirling striker. “My highlight would have to be the last game against Brisbane Roar away in my first year, when I made my starting debut and scored my first goal for the club.”
Next up for Skorich is a home date with his former club, the Knights, who he knows will have nothing other than three points on their minds. “The game will be an end-to-end affair and if we stick to our way of playing football, we’ll take the three points,” said Skorich. “The Knights have started off very well this season but now that we have had two games together with a fairly consistent outfit we’ll be ready to establish ourselves in the top five.” Stirling welcome the Knights to Macedonia Park on Saturday at 3.00pm.
INDONESIA MATCHES UP TO VRTESKI’S EXPECTATIONS
The breakaway Indonesian Premier League has attracted players from across the globe as it seeks credibility, including several from West Australia. One of those testing the waters in Indonesia is Karratha-born goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski who has made a terrific start with his new club Solo FC. “(It has been) really good. One of the biggest attractions for me to come here was regular football. I have been playing every game so far and my form has been pretty good,” said Vrteski.
Despite not being recognised by Indonesia’s football association, the new competition is aiming to overtake the current Indonesia Super League, which is riddled with problems. “From what I have heard there is a few clubs out there (in the Super League) who haven’t paid their players for three or four months. For any player that’s not good. It’s your livelihood,” said Vrteski, who was convinced Indonesia was the place to be by Persema Malang midfielder Robbie Gasper.
Joining Vrteski at Solo is David Micevski while at rival clubs are Andrija Jukic, Billy Quinncroft (Bogor Raya) and Steve Hesketh (Deltras Sidoarjo), and the door is open for others to follow. “I think with the way the A-League is structured with only 23 players in squads I think a lot of good players miss out,” Vrestki commented. “I know for a fact Australians have a wonderful reputation in Indonesia of being hard-working, very strong and physical but can play as well.”
Vrteski, who represented Australia at Under-20 level, has committed his senior international career to Macedonia. “I am Australian-born and I love the country but I think potentially my opportunity to play for a national team in the future lies with Macedonia,” said Vrestki, who played for Macedonia’s Under-21 against Croatia in 2009. “Their top three keepers are all now 34+ and I think they are looking at a change there so who knows what the future holds.”
SOCCEROOS ON HORIZON FOR HERD
West Australian midfielder Chris Herd is firming as a future Olympian and Socceroo as he continues his rise through the ranks at Aston Villa. The 21-year old made the starting line-up for an English Premier League match for the first time on Saturday as Villa lost at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Defeat was a blow for struggling Villa, who are just a point above the relegation zone, but Herd's inclusion in the starting eleven would have been noted by Socceroos boss Holger Osieck.
Australia's technical director Han Berger said Herd, who had earned a sudden call-up to Australia's under-20 team for the 2009 World Cup after he had flown under the radar at Villa, was making excellent progress. "We didn't know him until just before the under-20 World Cup in Egypt," Berger said. "He's getting playing time since Houllier is at Villa. So, a young player who gets playing time in the Premier League, that is enough information to have a closer look at him."
Australian officials have formulated a succession plan to cope with the expected retirements of a number of key players in the next few years and Herd could play a prominent role in the future. He made his English debut in 2008 when he moved on loan from Villa to Port Vale. He has also had loan spells at Wycombe Wanderers and Lincoln City. But he has made even greater strides this season after making his Premier League debut in a 2-2 draw at home to Manchester United in November.
Herd, who played locally for Bayswater City and ECU Joondalup, gets another opportunity to impress Osieck and Olympic team coach Aurelio Vidmar at this weeks national team training camp in Duisberg. Also among the 22 potential youth and senior national team players attending the camp, which includes friendlies against the reserve teams of Borussia Monchengladbach and Schalke, are Shane Lowry (Sheffield United) and Adrian Madaschi (Portogruaro).
GLORY WANT FOWLER-SMELTZ DREAM TEAM
Perth Glory are adamant Shane Smeltz's imminent arrival at the A-League club won't force former England international Robbie Fowler out the door. Smeltz, who starred for New Zealand during last year's World Cup, will replace Fowler as Glory's international marquee player on what is rumoured to be three-year contract worth $1.2 million. Although Smeltz's deal will fall outside of the salary cap due to his marquee status, any deal put to Fowler must now be included in the cap, meaning the former Liverpool legend will have to take a hefty pay cut to stay put in Perth.
Travis Dodd, Evan Berger and goalkeeper Danny Vukovic have all signed on the dotted line with Glory for season 2011/12, with Smeltz's expected to do likewise in coming days. Vukovic, who signed a three-year deal after spending last season with Wellington Phoenix, hoped Fowler would stay on at Glory to form a dream strike partnership with Smeltz. "To play with someone like that would just be a dream come true," Vukovic said. "At the end of my career I'd love to say that I've played with someone like Robbie Fowler." Glory has given Fowler until mid-April to decide whether he'll play a second season with the club.
FEELY KEEPS CLEAN SHEET ON CELTIC YOUTH DEBUT
Goalkeeper Nick Feely earned his first start for Scottish club Celtic in the Under-19's 3-0 defeat of Hibernian on the weekend. Feely signed for Celtic six months ago and was thrown into competitive action for the first time on Saturday on the back of a friendly outing against Finn Harps. "We thought that the time was right, we need to have a look at Nick because we have two good goalkeepers at this age," said coach Stevie Frail, who has preferred Robbie Thomson between the posts so far this season. "It's not a slight on Robbie's performance by any means. We've been pleased with him but we had a look at Nick and he's came in and kept a clean sheet as well. That was his first competitive start, we're pleased for him and it's good to have two good keepers at this level."
I'LL TREAD CAREFULLY WITH WILLIAMS: MOWBRAY
Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray plans to wrap Rhys Williams in cotton wool and nurse him through the remainder of the season. Williams recently returned to first team action following a lengthy absence due to a persistent pelvic problem, however, Mowbray intends to use the versatile 22-year old sparingly through the coming month. “We have to manage Rhys now with nine or ten games to go,” he said. “It is unlikely he will play all of those games after being out for a long time. He still does not train every day, so we are trying to keep him ticking along and bring him through.”
Williams returned to action at the start of the month by coming off the bench against Reading, which he followed by full 90 minutes performances against Derby County, Portsmouth and Watford. “I have been delighted with his performance level but when you look at April, with two games a week for the whole four weeks, it is very unlikely he will play all of those games,” commented Mowbray. “He is a lad who has missed a lot of football and he is not 100% yet. At the moment we are wrapping him in cotton wool in order to get him out on match days.”
BALCATTA GO TOP AFTER THRASHING BAYSWATER
Balcatta surged to the top of the Premier League table on the back of this afternoon’s 5-1 demolition of Bayswater City in front of a full house at Frank Drago Reserve. English import Steven Burton celebrated his State League debut by scoring three times alongside Mo Atak and Daniel Micevski to move Balcatta two points clear of their nearest rivals. “I’ve been waiting for three weeks to get my clearance but it’s great to start off with a few goals,” said Burton, whose former clubs include Ipswich Town and Doncaster Rovers. “I struggled a bit with the warm weather, it was zero degrees when I left the UK three weeks ago, but I lasted 80 minutes today which was pleasing.”
Fans were still streaming into the ground when Ashley Rosindale forced the games first save from Gianni Papalia after 10 minutes. Balcatta needed only another five minutes to take the lead, Micevski getting away down the right to cross for Rosindale and although his crisp strike was blocked by the goalkeeper Burton was on hand to put away the rebound. It turned out to be a short lived lead as four minutes later Bayswater captain Damien Catalano sent Lewis Italiano the wrong way from the penalty spot following Atak’s foul on Josh Tumoe that left the referee with little option.
Knowing victory would send them to the top of the table, Balcatta showed the greater desire for a second goal. On the half hour Rosindale’s free kick Papalia into action and a few minutes later Burton latched onto a long Italiano clearance but his low shot was also saved by the ‘keeper. Their reward came on 34 minutes when Adam Tong sent Vatistas in down the right and the busy midfielder crossed for an unmarked Burton to head in from 6-metres. Bayswater wanted to hit back immediately with Gavin Knight’s picking out Catalano whose long range shot was held by Italiano.
The outcome was effectively settled in the opening minute of the second period when Rosindale’s free kick was headed back across goal by Tong and Burton laid the ball off for Atak to fire in from 7-metres. Papalia remained the thick of the action as the visitors pilled on the pressure, brilliantly keeping out a powerful Tong header and moments later stretching to touch Burton’s shot on the turn around the post. The odds were stacked firmly against a Bayswater comeback but that didn’t stop them from trying as Cisco Jorquiera released David Sesay, who flashed just wide of the far post.
As the home side pushed forward in search of a way back into the game they left themselves vulnerable at the back. That was exploited in the 80th minute by Micevski whose superb through ball sent in Burton who finished clinically past Papalia for his hat-trick. Substitute Genevo Human went close to adding another when released by Jason Barrera but his shot was parried by Papalia with Alex Caniglia clearing the loose ball. Balcatta’s final goal came three minutes into stoppage time when Micevski rounded the ‘keeper to tuck into the net after some tidy lead-up play by Rosindale and Michael Black.
CUP OF ROUND OF SIXTEEN DRAWN
The second round of the State League Cup has been made with some intriguing results. The pick of the eight games is the all Premier League showdown between Balcatta and Cockburn City at Grindleford Reserve. Passions will also be running high at Lark Hills Sportsplex where neighbouring Rockingham City and Mandurah City lock horns in the derby.
The three remaining Sunday League sides have been presented with giant killing opportunities. Three times State League Cup winners Kingsway Olympic come up against Perth SC at Kingsway Sporting Complex. Also on home soil are UWA-Nedlands who take on Western Knights, while Melville City (formerly Murdoch University) travels north to play Sorrento.
The rounds only all Division One contest has Dianella White Eagles at home to newly promoted Shamrock Rovers. Stirling Lions’ quest for back-to-back Cups has them against Gosnells City. Armadale have been drawn at home to the winner of Floreat Athena verses Ashfield, being played on Wednesday 30 March. All second round games in the 2011 State League Cup will be played on Tuesday 26 April.
“WE’LL KEEP FIGHTING” SAYS BLADES LOANEE LOWRY
Shane Lowry is adamant Sheffield United can pull themselves clear of the English Championship relegation zone. The 21-year old has been a regular starter for manager Micky Adams since going onloan to the Blades in January and is determined help them beat the drop. “We aren’t in a nice place and to have only won one game this year obviously isn’t going to be enough, but we aren’t going to give up we will keep fighting and I still think we can get out of trouble,” he said. “Despite the blip at Watford (0-3 loss) the togetherness is still there and we know if we perform to the best of abilities we have a realistic chance.”
The Blades have collected maximum points just once since mid-December, a situation Lowry says the team have brought upon themselves. “We haven’t had the rub of the green at times but we can’t blame the referees for the position we are in,” commented Lowry. “We have made individual errors and red cards have made life hard at times, including mine at Scunthorpe, but I have learnt from that. You can go from being on top of the world like after the Forest game (2-1 win) then come crashing back down to earth at Watford.”
Lowry is adamant that the Blades can claw their way out of the drop zone. “We can still get out of the relegation places. Just look how Portsmouth moved up the league from near the bottom with six wins on the bounce - when we played there we were the better side so we must believe,” said Lowry. “Sheffield United is a massive club and the fans are brilliant. They back you both home and away, despite the results, and they are our 12th man which can give the players a lift … If we get out of this trouble then it would be a great achievement.”
KNIGHTS BURST MANDURAH’S BUBBLE (with Michael Barr, Football West)
Western Knights came from behind to defeat a gallant Mandurah City 2-1 in an entertaining match at Nash Field. Andy Brown had the visitors in front by half time but two goals in as many minutes from Branimir Mikulic and Stuart Ferguson swung the game in the Knights favour. “I thought we played well today, even when we went a goal down,” said Knights coach Carl Medica, who commended his players’ second half efforts. “We regrouped well in the second half with some home truths and finished off the game strongly.”
Simon Versaico almost gave the Knights a perfect start when he broke inside the 18-yard box and flicked the ball past goalkeeper Phil Straker only to see it roll the wrong side of the upright. The hosts continued pressure with Versaico’s back post header forcing a brilliant save from the Mandurah custodian. The game then settled into a trend of long balls and back-passing with the Knights always looking the more threatening when pushing into the final third.
So it was against the run of play that Mandurah took a 33rd minute lead when Brown created space for himself down the right before dribbling around the oncoming Fraser Siddall and tucking into an empty net. The Knights responded immediately with Versaico sliding the ball to the feet of Mikulic whose explosive drive stung the gloves of Straker. The remainder of the half was played out with few chances of any note, Mandurah happy with their slender half time lead.
The Knights emerged for the second half focused on getting a goal back and on 58 minutes that’s exactly what they did. After controlling the ball inside the box Mikulic turned smartly to squeeze his shot under the outstretched arms of Straker. The small crowd was sent into raptures just two minutes later when Ferguson’s towering header found the back of the net to complete a remarkable comeback. Now on the back foot, Mandurah had no way of stopping the rampant Knights, who should have scored a few more times before the referee blew for full time.
MCGEE SILENCES COCKERELS (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
Oliver McGee recovered from a heavy knock to score ECU Joondalup’s winner in a 2-1 come from behind victory over Cockburn City at the Edith Cowan University campus. The central defender - who was forced to leave the pitch early on with blood streaming from a cut on his face - powerfully headed in at a corner to give Joondalup their first home win of the season. Michael Grigo had put the visitors’ ahead midway through the first half only to have Ian McMurray level on the hour.
The Cockerels came out with all guns ablaze as Grigo’s close range volley flashed just high and Alex Dibley’s shot from distance had the same final outcome. Joondalup settled and John Thornley looked to have done enough when he clipped the ball past advancing goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic but was denied by Declan Boyham’s scramble off the line. Thornley then set up Jon Higgins who saw two efforts in quick succession blocked by a desperate Cockburn defence.
The deadlock was broken after 23 minutes, Grigo getting free inside the 18-yard box to head John Davite’s pinpoint cross past a helpless Andy Banks. Joondalup was denied a clear penalty in the 34th minute when Paul Natale used his hand to keep Jordan Dodd’s close range header out of the net, but amazingly neither referee David Costello nor his assistant Shuo Chen spotted the blatant infringement. Aleksic then denied Higgins with a great save, while at the other end Johnny Mirco’s low drive kept Banks on his toes.
Banks was called into action again at the beginning of the second period to gather Adrian Webster’s snap shot. Moments later Grigo had the ball in the net for a second time but his effort was disallowed with the referee ruling he had handled Anthony Pereira’s through ball. Thornley dragged the ball wide after a strong run to the edge of the area, then Dodd’s close range effort deflected off Thornley and flew just over. Grigo then wasted a golden chance to score Cockburn’s second by lifting high of the crossbar.
That miss was compounded on the hour when Chris Wylie’s long throw-in was flicked on by Dodd for McMurray, who swivelled superbly to hook the ball into the bottom corner from close range. Another Thornley shot was deflected out for a corner before Aleksic produced a fine save to deny Jon Stynes. But there was nothing the Cockburn ‘keeper could do in the 72nd minute to keep out McGee’s bullet-like header from 8-metres which made it two-one.
At this stage Joondalup took control and were unlucky not to add a couple more goals to their tally. Thornley should have given the hosts more breathing space after but after beating the advancing ‘keeper to a long ball he lifted over the bar from just inside the area. McMurray also shot high from the edge of the box when he had more time than he might have thought. However, it mattered little as Joondalup held on for the three points which moves them level with Bayswater City and Western Knights on top of the table.
Post-game, Joondalup coach Syd Amphlett was delighted with his teams’ perseverance. “I thought to be honest the boys played really well. We were a bit nervous and they seemed to put themselves under a bit of pressure when we missed a few chances in the first half,” he said. “The penalty ... you know ... you get a penalty and they get a player sent off ... everybody saw it except the referee and the linesman but to the boys credit they kept going and I’m really pleased.”
WATT AT THE DOUBLE
Stirling Lions collected their first home win of the new season by out-shooting Armadale 2-1 at Macedonia Park. Scottish striker Jamie Watt was the hosts’ two-goal hero, striking either side of the break to negate a stunning free kick by Parys Okai. “I’m happy to score a couple of goals but I’m gutted about the third one. I was celebrating my hat-trick as the referee had awarded it but he then changed his mind, which was disappointing,” Watt said after the match. “I thought we played some good football in the second half. It was a bit nervy near the end but we’re happy to get the first win on the board.”
It was a tentative opening from both sides with the first real chance not arriving until the 11th minute when Anthony Skorich raced clear of a stagnant defence and crossed to Watt, who blazed over from close range. Armadale replied seven minutes later through a Paul Lloyd corner to the back post where Tom Robinson headed over. Teenage goalkeeper Connor Campbell marked his State league debut by saving superbly from Anthony Campbell after he had wriggled free of Jason Gavin on the edge of the 18-yard box.
Stirling were beginning to get on top and on 34 minutes Watt headed down a Huss Awada cross to Phil O’Callaghan whose volley was saved by Sharrock at the second attempt. Two minutes later the hosts got their reward as Brent Griffiths’ sent clear Watt, who out-muscled Aaron Beattie before firing in from 8-metres. Armadale looked to hit back but Steven McDonald’s back post header was saved low by Campbell. The sides were brought level in the 45th minute, Okai curling a superb free kick over the defensive wall and into the net much to the delight of the travelling supporters.
With coach Paul Lincoln’s address still ringing in their ears, Stirling regained their lead three minutes into the second half. Great work on the right by Skorich saw him deliver a pinpoint cross which Watt headed in via the far post. Watt appeared to have completed his hat-trick four minutes later when he fired in at close range, and although referee Michael Nugus signalled a goal he changed his mind after consulting his linesman. Having survived this let off, Armadale pressed for an equaliser and on the hour Robinson headed wide when found unmarked by a Lloyd corner.
Stirling weren’t content with their single goal lead as O’Callaghan headed wide and substitute Jamie De Abreu was thwarted by Cyril Sharrock. The Armadale custodian then made a great double save, parrying Ludovic Boi’s shot from 11-metres then recovering to save one handed from Watt’s follow-up. Armadale weren’t going down without a fight on 78 minutes Sean Nicholls whistled a shot narrowly wide. It was tense time for the home supporters but Skorich could have settled those nerves when he forced his way through the penalty box but his final shot was wide of the target.
INGLEWOOD UNITED IN DOWNING NTC (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
Inglewood United recorded just their second win of the Premier League season by defeating the National Training Centre 3-1 on home soil. A stoppage time goal from Brendan Craig was the only highlight of a largely forgettable opening period, however, after the turnaround Inglewood sparked into life with further finishes by Ryan Clarke and Alex Stamatiadis securing a deserved victory. Harry O’Brien grabbed the young visitors a late consolation.
Goal mouth activity was at a minimum throughout the first half with Inglewood looking the more likely to score via set pieces. David McNally went close twice in quick succession, the defender forcing a good save from goalkeeper Tim Doyle before nodding the resulting corner past the target. The NTC slowly found their rhythm but Sahr Musa failed to trouble Oliver Taseski, who soon after was rounded by Ivan Skorich but he lost his footing at the crucial moment and the chance was lost. Craig landed a real sucker punch in stoppage time when his low free kick found its way through a sea of bodies and into the back of the net.
Inglewood started the second half at full pace had it not been for Sam Mitchinson’s superb tackle then Ndumba Makeche could well have put away goal number two. That eventually arrived in the 65th minute when Clarke broke out of midfield and with a nicely timed run lifted the ball calmly over Doyle. Six minutes later Makeche beat his man before cutting the ball back for Stamatiadis to fire in from 10-metres. With four minutes left O’Brien received a lay off from Musa which he rolled under the advancing ‘keeper for a three-nil scoreline.
DEBUTANT ARNOLD EARNS FLOREAT A POINT (with Michael Bate, Football West)
Phil Arnold marked his first outing for Floreat Athena by scoring in stoppage time and earn a 2-2 draw with Sorrento at Litis Stadium. The Gulls were left to rue their failure to convert a number of opportunities during a first half they totally dominated. After the game Floreat boss Ante Kovacevic declared himself satisfied with his side’s second point of the season. “With the situation we were in (I’m) definitely happy with a point,” he said. “(It was a) very disappointing first half, went in 2-1 but we came out in the second half and I thought we created enough chances to get us back into the game.”
Sorrento started brightly and needed only 14 minutes to go ahead through Jason Mirco, who sent goalkeeper Alex Dunn the wrong way from the penalty spot following an obstruction call against Kovacevic. David Foster should have doubled the Gulls’ lead four minutes later when he latched onto Jack Doyle’s through ball but though he side-footed past Dunn it glanced the outside of the post. Foster had another good chance on 22 minutes when he rose highest to meet an in-swinging Kyle Moran cross which he nodded just wide.
Floreat drew level against the run of play after 24 minutes, Liam Boland firing in from close range after Sorrento had failed to clear their lines. Moran’s sizzling 33rd minute strike forced Dunn into making a good save down low, the ‘keeper following his moments later by blocking Foster’s follow up. Sorrento restored their lead in the 38th minute when Brodie Martin fired the ball past Dunn at the near post having starting the move in midfield by playing Moran down the left channel.
The home side should have equalised three minutes after the break when Kovacevic sent his header wide from a Boland cross when it looked easier to score. Floreat continued to plus away, Calum O’Connell’s effort was cleared off the line by Ryan Pearson and Aspden did well to save a long range attempt by Paul Van Dongen. It looked as though it just wasn’t going to be Floreat’s day when O’Connell headed wide in the 87th minute corner. But with seconds ticking away Arnold poked the ball over the line after Miki Vujacic’s corner caused confusion in the visiting defence.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
All eyes will be on Frank Drago Reserve come Sunday afternoon for the top of the table clash between Bayswater City and Balcatta (3.00pm). Bayswater have surprised many with their good start to the season and head into the weekend out to extend their unbeaten run. “It’s a massive game - the top two teams in the league,” said striker Gavin Knight. “I know we lost 5-0 in the Cup to them but we played our reserves. We are full of confidence after our unbeaten start to the season and they will be trying to bounce back from the Mandurah defeat - it should be a cracker.”
Balcatta defender Jovo Pavlovic also expects big things from the game. “It will be an entertaining game for the supporters as both sides play attractive football,” said Pavlovic, who has many reasons for wanting the win. “Top spot is up for grabs, we want to bounce back and it would be nice to get one over my former club.” Striker Ashley Rosindale comes back into contention following injury, however, not all the new is good from the Balcatta camp with John Migas, Daniel Neiderberger and Anthony Danze all ruled out.
Round Four commences on Saturday with Floreat Athena welcoming an as yet pointless Sorrento to Litis Stadium (3.00pm). Floreat picked up their first point last weekend thanks to Liam Boland’s first league goal for the club, and with Julian Madaschi and goalkeeper Alex Dunn in top form they head into the afternoon full of confidence. Gulls pair David Foster and Danny Cain are expected to make their returns to league action following time out with injury, while new singing Ryan Pearson is in line to debut for Paul Price’s side.
It’s been a flat start to the home and way series for Stirling Lions who’ll need to be at their best to get the better of Armadale at Macedonia Park (3.00pm). Stirling welcomes former Perth Glory defender Brent Griffiths to the squad as Corey Cullen and Ludovic Boi return from injury and suspension respectively. Steve McDonald inspired Armadale to come back from two-down and earn a draw last time and if the Reds captain, Tom Robinson and Craig Young can assert some authority then they should come away with a point or three.
Mandurah City go searching for a thirds straight away win when they face Western Knights at Nash Field (3.00pm). Andy Brown and Jake Loreto have been in fine form in the middle of the park for the Dolphins coach Mike Brazil, who will wait on a late fitness test before deciding whether Darren Broxton takes to the field. Knights boss Carl Medica could be tempted to bring Simon Versaico into the line-up after missing last weeks draw with Floreat Athena, however, Luka Jukic (groin), Callum Roberts (ankle) and Dale Wingell (knee) remain out of action.
It’s a depleted Cockburn City outfit than journeys north to play ECU Joondalup at the Edith Cowan University campus (3.00pm). Exciting young striker Rory Feely has been added to the Cockerels injury list and Marc Anthony misses out due to suspension, but on the plus side is the return of Anthony Pereira from suspension. Andy Banks continues to impress between the posts for Joondalup, defender Ross Edwards comes up against his former club for the first time and Scott Blackmore is back in contention after serving suspension.
Saturday’s final game is the clash Inglewood United’s home date with the National Training Centre (3.00pm). The only changes of any note to the Inglewood line-up are the inclusion of new signing Paul Dugdale and the absence of experienced defender Daniel Stoitis. It’s been a tough start to the season for the NTC but Kenny Lowe’s side are slowly getting back to full strength, and to grips with Premier League football. Sahr Musa and Brendan O’Neill will be important figures along with goalkeeper Tim Doyle if they’re to take to anything from this game.
MITCHINSON HAPPY WITH NTC’S PROGRESS
Things are humming along quite nicely for the National Training Centre according to one of the state’s best young defender, Sam Mitchinson. The NTC’s inaugural Premier League season has started with solid performances against two of the competition’s top clubs, and indications are the youngsters are only just getting warmed up. “The squad is a mix of NTC players and Glory Youth, so we are still getting to know each other,” said Mitchinson. “We’ve had a few injuries and suspensions for the first two games, a couple of lads are also on trials in England.”
There were concerns that with no points on offer for games against the NTC that the youngsters would face under-strength opposition, however, those fears appear to have been allayed. “It was good to see both Western Knights and Sorrento fielding strong teams against us,” commented Mitchinson, who has been happy with the team efforts. “In both games we haven’t looked out of place, rather our own mistakes have cost us goals It doesn’t matter to us if there are three points up for grabs, we always play to win.”
Mitchinson feels playing in the pre-season Night Series would have benefitted the NTC, however, that simply was not an option due to many players’ commitments with Perth Glory Youth. “Playing in the Night Series would have been useful for us to get some experience in the league, but most of us were still playing in the Youth League so half the team wouldn’t have been available,” explained Mitchinson, who is one of over a dozen NTC players who turned out for Glory Youth during the summer.
A junior with Cockburn City, Mitchinson was drafted into the NTC in 2008 and thanks coach Kenny Lowe for his development coming on in leaps and bounds. “Kenny moved me to centre half in my second year with NTC and that decision paid off with my selection in the Glory Youth side that the same season,” said 18-year old Mitchinson. “I still have a lot to learn at centre half but Kenny always encourages me to play football and be positive with the ball.”
When he’s not playing for the NTC Mitchinson is taking in all he can from local legend Gareth Naven, inaugural captain of Glory and coach of that clubs youth team. The talented young defender feels the differing coaching approaches of Naven and Lowe compliment each other perfectly. “Both encourage their players to play attractive football and be comfortable on the ball,” explained Mitchinson, who captained Glory Youth into the final games of the recent season. “They also challenge players to master the ball technically.”
There have been plenty of highlights in the two seasons Mitchinson has turned out for Glory Youth. “Playing in the 2010 Grand Final was the biggest highlight,” he said of the day Glory Youth went down to Gold Coast United 2-1. “Marking A-League players on their way back from suspension/injury is another highlight, and I also played for Glory the night Robbie Fowler made his debut against Rockingham City. Being made captain for the final six or so games of last season was a real honour.”
This weekend the NTC travel to Inglewood United who Mitchinson readily concedes he doesn’t know a great deal about. “I’ve watched them play before and they have some good players but in all honesty I don’t know a lot about Inglewood,” he said. “We will be confident though heading into the game and all the lads are looking forward it. I know everyone will give 100% and hopefully we get our first win on Saturday.”
KNIGHT HEADS UP BAYSWATER’S CHARGE
Striker Gavin Knight isn’t surprise by Bayswater City’s undefeated start to the Premier League season. Bayswater cast aside a flat pre-season by holding State League champions Perth SC to a scoreless draw in between wins at Armadale and Cockburn City which have taken them to the top of the league. “The season has been great so far,” said 30-year old Knight. “Not many people would have put us on seven points after three games but the players and coaching staff knew we would be competitive.”
England-born England played for Scunthorpe United, Barrow, Guiseley and Buxton before opting for a complete change of scenery by joining Joondalup United last year. “I came over in May and played for my mates team (Joondalup),” he explained. “I had few offers from Saturday Premier League clubs but stayed at United for the rest of the season. I was fortunately selected in the State team that played in Malaysia. When I came back Mauro (Marchione) asked me to go down to Frank Drago Reserve … and the rest is history.”
Marchione has been delighted with what Knight has contributed to the team so far this year. “Gavin has played at a good level in England and brings a vast amount of experience to our football club,” said the Bayswater coach. “He’s a goal scorer and I believe he can score between 12 and 18 goals and that’s what we need from him, especially since we lost Kailo Karpeh. We needed another goal scorer along Gustavo Marulanda, and Gavin is the perfect person for the job.”
FOOTBALL WEST TO LEAD THE WAY IN REFEREE EDUCATION
Football West have launched Australia’s first interactive match official website. Nine months in the making, laws.footballwest.com.au aims to provide easy, interactive access to the FIFA Laws of the Game by way of video demonstrations, pictures and a workbook suitable for aspiring referees, players, officials, volunteers, parents or supporters of the game. Those wishing to commence their career as a referee are able to complete an online examination which provides them with a referee certificate and the chance to complete the Level 4 Referee Course.
Referee Development Manager Eddie Lennie is thrilled to put Football West at the forefront of technological innovation. “I am very happy that we have taken this forward step in the further education and development of match officials,” Lennie said. “The team has worked very hard to get this project to fruition and I am sure this will serve not only as a valuable source of information for all participants in the game, it will also serve as a recruiting tool to bring more referees into our sport. Football West continues to support referee development in this State and plans to introduce further initiatives in the future.”
WILLIAMS EYES INJURY-FREE RUN
Australian international Rhys Williams has described his ten-month injury absence as a 'horror film' but says he now wants to finish the season on a high note with Middlesbrough. Williams, 22, recently returned to action for Boro after almost a year on the sidelines with groin and pelvis injuries which kept him out of Australia's 2010 World Cup squad. "It's been like a horror film, to be honest. I've had my ups and downs, but more downs, with the injuries,” Williams said.
Williams, 22, made his return to the Middlesbrough side as a substitute earlier this month against Reading and has since played full games against Derby County and Portsmouth, garnering man-of-the-match honours in the latter. “It's obviously nice when people acknowledge how you play and I'm buzzing for it, but it was a good team performance, we defended well and could've nicked it at the end,” he commented of the scoreless draw.
The former ECU Joondalup player's three outings have come at centre-back as injuries to Andrew Davies, Stephen McManus and Matthew Bates have restricted boss Tony Mowbray's options. "The gaffer's put me in and I've done all right, so he might keep me there for the time being," added Williams. "But we've got McManus back and Davies and Bates are coming back, so there's a lot of competition. Wherever the gaffer wants to play me, I'm happy with that and long may it continue that I get a game."
Williams's goal now is to finish the campaign fit and help struggling Middlesbrough avoid the drop in order to press for promotion back to the Premier League next season. "I'm back now and I just want to keep myself fit," he said. "Get this season over without any injuries, and then kick on next season and hopefully push for promotion … I'm not going to play all of our last ten games because of injury management. But if I can get as many games as I can, then I can get a good break in the summer and come back raring to go next season."
PFT OFFERS YOUNGSTERS AN EXPERIENCE THEY’LL NEVER FORGET
The trip of a lifetime awaits some of Western Australia’s best teenage footballers thanks to Pro Football Training. Coaching directors Mark Lee and Barry Wood will take two squads of juniors to England and Scotland later this year for a unique educational, cultural and playing experience. “In September our under-12 and under-13 squads are going to the UK to play some of the biggest clubs in the world - Rangers, Celtic, Hearts, Newcastle United, Liverpool and Everton,” said Lee. “Many of these players have the potential to represent the State and Australia so this will be an invaluable experience for them.”
Pro Football Training held its first course in August 2009 and has since developed into one of the most respected development programs in Western Australia for players aged 6 to 16. “We strive to offer the players a program that constantly keeps them engaged and wanting to come back for more,” said Lee, a former Perth Glory player. “Whether players want to play at the highest level or just socially with friends, the aim of Pro Football Training is to ensure that football is a positive part of people’s lives.”
The program provides young players a holistic approach to their football education with sessions based on those used by clubs from around the globe. “We base all of our programs around the top professional academies and FFA’s National Curriculum,” said Lee. “Coupled with the access we have to numerous Academy Directors and Coaches from around the world provides players and clubs with foundation to build a successful development program.”
Acceptance into the Pro Football Training program is at the invitation of Lee and Wood. “We’re regular visitors at the local grounds throughout the season and also indentify players at clinics, club and school programs, etc,” explained Lee. “Players are invited to come along, experience the environment and see if it is something they enjoy. If we feel that the player would be a good fit for the group we consult with their parents about enrolling them for the program.”
Central to the Pro Football Training philosophy is player enjoyment, which Lee says starts with a positive coaching experience. “It is the role of a coach to create an environment that encourages them to improve and take ownership of their development,” Lee said. “We observe many sessions where coaches stifle players and are very negative. Our philosophy is that all players play the game for fun and enjoyment - this should be the focal point for all coaches.”
Amongst Pro Football Training’s recent activities was a pre-season camp at Wesley College for under-15 players. “The aim was to prepare the players for the 2011 season and educate them on the many facets of the game,” explained Lee. “We utilised the swimming pool, football pitch, gymnasium and lecture rooms to create a professional environment for the players to experience the daily schedule of a professional footballer. Robbie Fowler spoke to all of the players about his career and even asked for copies of our presentations and sessions!”
With a trip to England to plan and school holiday clinics and club courses to run, the next few months promise to be a very busy time for Lee, not that he’s complaining. “Neither Barry nor myself regard what we do as work, we feel privileged to be full-time in the game,” Lee commented. “We enjoy coaching far more than playing and are constantly educating ourselves and striving to improve the programs we offer.” Visit Pro Football Training for full details of available courses and programs, including the Easter Skillz Clinics.
GRIFFITHS SUFFERS IN A-LEAGUE FINAL
Central Coast Mariners midfielder Rostyn Griffiths watched the last agonising moments of Sunday's A-League Grand Final loss to Brisbane Roar through blurred vision before being taken to hospital. Griffiths could barely watch as the Mariners went down in a penalty shoot-out after which team officials whisked him off to hospital suffering body shakes and severe cramps. "I didn't go to the medal presentation because my body had cramped up completely," Griffiths told the 'West Australian'. "I couldn't even walk so I had to be stretchered off. I was pretty bad when I got back into the stadium and they got an ambulance there to take me to the hospital."
Griffiths, who made his first team debut ECU Joondalup at the age of 15, had been a linchpin of Central Coasts' resistance as Brisbane pushed to win the game in regulation time. He felt the onset of a migraine after about 65 minutes and had complained that he was struggling to see before he was replaced in the 89th minute. "I was shouting to (coach) Graham Arnold that I had to come off," Griffiths said. "One of their corners came in and the ball went past me and I didn't even see it. I thought 'that's the end for me.' There's no point being on when you can't even see the ball."
Once in hospital Griffiths made a quick recovery and was back at the team hotel within a few hours. "I had blood tests and they said all my levels were down," Griffiths said. "I don't understand why because I did all the normal things. But once they got the drip in and I got my fluids up I was pretty much all right." Central Coast looked set for Grand Final victory after Adam Kwasnik and Oliver Bozanic netted in extra time, however, goals in the last few minutes by Henrique and Erik Paartalu sent the game to penalties from where Brisbane triumphed 4-2.
RUKAVYTSYA CALLED UP FOR SOCCEROOS
Australia coach Holger Osieck has included striker Nikita Rukavytsya in his squad for this months friendly with Germany at Borussia-Park in Monchengladbach. Osieck's reduced 17 man squad comprises 15 who were part of the Socceroos recent Asian Cup campaign where they finished runners-up to Japan. Rukavytsya, who plies his trade for Hertha Berlin, returns to the squad after last being selected seven months ago against Slovenia.
Rukavytsya's form and fitness with in Germany's second tier has been noted by Osieck, who spoke with the Hertha boss Markus Babbel regarding the striker's progress. "I know his club coach pretty well. He used to play for me in the German youth national team so I always get firsthand information," said the Socceroos' coach. "(Rukavytsya) looks pretty good so I'm looking forward to seeing him again in the German camp."
Adrian Madaschi (Portogruara), Chris Herd (Aston Villa) and Shane Lowry (Sheffield United) are among an additional 22 players invited to attend a four-day training camp in Duisburg. The purpose of the camp is to identify players for the 2012 Olympic Games and 2014 World Cup qualifying campaigns as well as this year's Under-20 World Cup. The camp will involve training matches against reserve teams from Borussia Monchengladbach and Schalke 04.
The Australia squad to play Germany on 29 March is Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar), Jon McKain (Al Nassr), Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers), David Carney (Blackpool), Mitchell Langerak (Borussia Dortmund), Matt McKay (Brisbane Roar), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow), Tim Cahill (Everton), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Harry Kewell, Lucas Neill (Galatasaray), Mile Jedinak (Genclerbirligi), Nikita Rukavytsya (Hertha Berlin), Neil Kilkenny (Leeds United), Robbie Kruse (Melbourne Victory), Carl Valeri (Sassuolo Calcio) and Sasa Ognenovski (Seongnam Ilhwa).
KARPEH NETS CHURCHILL A WINNER
Churchill Brothers have surged to within touching distance of the I-League leadership thanks to former Perth Glory player Boima 'Jerry' Karpeh. A moment of pure magic saw Karpeh bag the solitary goal in the weekend's 1-0 away win at Viva Kerala, a result which puts Churchill Brothers one point behind leaders Salgaocar. The game looked destined to finish scoreless when, with 77 minutes gone, Karpeh dazzled his way around a couple of defenders before chipping over the advancing goalkeeper to earn his team the points.
Liberia-born Karpeh shot to prominence on the local stage with Bayswater City and Floreat Athena, winning the 2007 Premier League Golden Boot with the latter. He made a handful of appearances for Glory towards the end of the 2007/08 season before moving to Victoria where he played a season with Whittlesea Zebras and two for Oakleigh Cannon. Karpeh agreed terms on a six-month deal with Indian club Churchill Brothers earlier this year.
WEST HAM FAST-TRACK TOMBIDES TO SENIOR SETUP
Former Stirling Lions junior Dylan Tombides was a surprise inclusion for West Ham United's trip to Portugal this week. Tombides, 17, is tipped for big things at West Ham and was able to mix with senior players as part of the training camp. “We all know what a good little player he is and he is grabbing the chance to show what he can do in training,” said Hammers midfielder Jack Collison. “I have done exactly the same as him, started in the youth team and made my way through and remember joining the first team like this, so we are making sure he is okay … it is nice to see the next generation of Hammers coming through so hopefully we will see a lot more of Dylan for the future.”
WILLIAMS NOT READY FOR SOCCEROOS
Socceroos coach Holger Osieck will not call defender Rhys Williams into the national team for this month’s friendly with Germany. Williams recently returned to first team action with English Championship club Middlesbrough after fighting his way back from pelvis and groin problems that plagued him for close to twelve months. Osieck has been tracking the 22-year old's progress but will not rush the Williams back into the Socceroos squad. "It's too soon," Osieck said. "If he gets back into his normal playing rhythm then I think he will be a definite candidate for us. After the absence of almost one year, it takes quite a time to really get back." Osieck will name his squad to play Germany tomorrow.
KNIGHTS, FLOREAT FINISH LEVEL
Floreat Athena opened their season account by playing out an entertaining 1-1 with Western Knights at Nash Field. Stuart Montgomery fired home from the penalty spot in the 11th minute to put the Knights in the advantage with Liam Boland levelling midway through the first period. Either team would have taken out all three points had it not been for some fine goalkeeping by Fraser Siddall and Alex Dunn.
An action packed opening had both teams go close to hitting the front but neither Paul Van Dongen nor Duncan Hind could get headers on target. In the 19th minute Montgomery fired the Knights in front after he’d been brought down by Callum O’Connell, who gave referee David Costello no option but to point to the spot. It took the visitors four minutes to respond, Garin Collins’ cross from the right finding Boland, who out-muscled David Annall to fire low past Siddall from 7-metres.
Floreat went close to second goal a couple of minutes later when Collins’ headed into the crossbar from a Julian Madaschi cross. Montgomery fired wide from 16-metres as the home side upped the tempo leading into the break, then in stoppage time Dunn kept out an Annall header with Callum Fransz clearing the follow up off the line. There was still time for more drama as Montgomery’s free kick fell to Paul Cooke whose low strike was saved by Dunn with Branimir Mikulic blazed the rebound high.
The second half opened with Floreat on the attack. A Jarred Smith cross from the left was poorly dealt with by the home defence whose blushes were saved when Siddall tipped over Paul Van Dongen’s shot. As the warm condition began to take hold the pace began to drop off. Montgomery should have done better when Thomas played him in on goal but the Knights striker shot weakly and straight at Dunn. The home side had the ball in the net after 69 minutes but Mikulic was deemed offside.
Ante Kovacevic and Madaschi stood firm as the home team pilled on the pressure in search of a winning goal. With ten minutes left Dunn produced a stunning save down low to keep out Cooke’s powerful shot from the edge of the 18-yard box. A Montgomery free kick was headed just high by Cooke not long after. Floreat had their chances to win it but Smith’s close range effort was blocked by Siddall, and in stoppage time a long range effort by Miki Vujacic curled narrowly wide of the post.
Floreat coach Ante Kovacevic had no complaints with the outcome. “It’s a good point for us today. We’ve got none from two to open the season so we’ve got something to build on for next week,” he said. “Both sides had chances today, and it could have gone either way. We gave them possession in their own half and defended well and it worked in the first half. We tired a little in the second half but Alex (Dunn) pulled of a good save late to keep us in it … I’m happy with a point.”
UNBEATABLE BRISBANE PULL OFF GRAND FINAL MIRACLE
Brisbane Roar capped off its season of dominance in the most dramatic of fashions, fighting back from two goals down in extra time to clinch the A-League title in a penalty shoot-out over Central Coast Mariners. Brisbane's unbelievable 27-game unbeaten streak was just three minutes away from being ended by Adam Kwasnik and Oliver Bozanic goals in the first period of extra time. Henrique pulled one back in the 117th minute before Erik Paartalu's header with the last touch of the match remarkably sent the game to penalties. Goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos then stepped up to the occasion with two tremendous saves in the shoot-out before Henrique slotted in the winning penalty for a 4-2 win.
Ange Postecoglou, Brisbane coach, paid tribute to his players' never-say-die approach following the shoot-out. "It's been an extraordinary season and I should have expected an extraordinary finish," he said. "We persisted and we never give up, and I think that's indicative of our whole season. It was a memorable final, I'm sure people will be talking about it for a long time, but as I said we needed to prove ourselves. We got tested again but that's the sign of a champion team I think." Central Coast 'keeper Mathew Ryan won the Joe Marston Medal for player of the match for his fantastic effort in keeping Brisbane at bay for almost two hours.
CONTRACT TALKS ON BACK-BURNER AS GARCIA FOCUSES ON PLAYING
Richard Garcia has returned to the Hull City fold with more reason than most to finish 2010/11 with a bang. Out of contract at seasons’ end, the fit-again forward has ten games to convince manager Nigel Pearson he warrants a fifth season with the Tigers. "It's not something that really weighs on my mind," said Garcia on his soon-to-expire contract. "I'm just concentrating on getting back playing and getting back fit. Maybe in a couple of months we can sit down and talk about it. It's the usual 'what will happen next year?' stuff at the moment but it's not something that's too much of a big deal."
Garcia, back after two months out with a knee injury, takes comfort from the words of Hull manager Nigel Pearson, who hinted that a new deal will be in the offing. "I am keen for him to stay but we'll see how it develops," said Pearson. "A player has as much to say on it as the club has but I've been really pleased with his contribution during a difficult time for the club. He's a player who seems to get some criticism at times but he's very much appreciated both by his peers and the staff." Garcia may get a chance to further his claim on a new contract when Hull travel to Coventry City today.
WEST HAM FAST-TRACK TOMBIDES TO SENIOR SETUP
Young striker Dylan Tombides was a surprise inclusion for West Ham United's trip to Portugal this week. Tombides, 17, is tipped for big things at West Ham and was able to mix with senior players as part of the training camp. “We all know what a good little player he is and he is grabbing the chance to show what he can do in training,” said Hammers midfielder Jack Collison. “I have done exactly the same as him, started in the youth team and made my way through and remember joining the first team like this, so we are making sure he is okay … it is nice to see the next generation of Hammers coming through so hopefully we will see a lot more of Dylan for the future.”
BAYSWATER SURGE TO THE TOP
Bayswater City claimed outright leadership of the Premier League with this afternoon’s 3-1 win over Cockburn City at Dalmatinac Park. Damian Catalano fired the visitors ahead early on only to have Rory Feely restore parity twelve minutes later. However, Cockburn’s joy was short lived with Feely exiting the game soon after through injury, and a second yellow card to Marc Anthony just after the half hour leaving the home team with a mountain climb. Even so, it wasn’t until late that Bayswater sealed victory through substitutes Joshua Tumoe and Gustavo Marulanda.
The visitors could not have asked for a better start as Catalano raced onto a Cisco Jorquera pass and fended off Declan Boyham before firing them into the lead after 7 minutes. Bayswater wanted another but Jorquera’s low long-range attempt was saved by Dejan Aleksic. Two minutes Larry Miller headed down a David Sesay cross for Jorquera, whose shot from the edge of the 18-yard box whistled just wide. With their first meaningful move Cockburn drew level, Boyham’s long ball troubling the visiting defence as Feely nipped in and rounded goalkeeper Gianni Papalia before firing in on 19 minutes.
Papalia denied Cockburn a second goal in the 24th minute by smothering bravely at the feet of Feely, who left the action on a stretcher after tearing a hamstring. Thing got worse for the Cockerels ten minutes later when Anthony received a second yellow card from referee Tim Mihevc, leaving them with ten men. The home bench were left fuming after referee Tim Mihevc felt no action was required following Luka Njegich’s tackle from behind on Johny Mirco. The half ended with an Alex Caniglia shot that was well saved by Dejan Aleksic at his near post.
Bayswater almost reclaimed the lead seven minutes into the second half when Caniglia’s far post cross was met by Gavin Knight whose first time shot was blocked by Aleksic, and the strike’s follow up was cleared off the line by Jon Davite. A double change on the hour refreshed the visiting side as substitute Marulanda’s powerful shot was deflected over by Paul Natale. Chances presented at both ends as the teams pressed for a second goal. Aaron Dos Santos’ long-range shot was straight at Papalia, then moments later Tumoe fired wide after a great ball from Jorquera.
A quick Cockburn counter- attack was foiled by Papalia, who saved successive shots from Mirco and Adrian Webster. Bayswater needed only sixty seconds to get the ball in the net, Tumoe racing clear to fire past Aleksic from 10-metres, much to the delight of the travelling supporters. The points were made safe in stoppage time when Thomas Gooding’s pass out of midfield released Marulanda, who applied a low finish past Aleksic. Webster almost earned his team a late consolation but his free kick was superbly saved by Papalia at full stretch.
Bayswater coach Mauro Marchione said his players action their game plan to perfection. “We knew Cockburn were a good side and we had a game plan and man marked a few players and it seemed to work for us,” he said. “I thought we dominated early and deservedly took the lead, but we allowed them back into the game. I made the changes in the second half and I knew we had the players on there with speed and pace to cause them problems and both scored which is pleasing.” The win moves newly promoted Bayswater one point clear at the top of the Premier League leader board.
MANDURAH BRING DOWN BALCATTA (with Michael Bate, Football West)
Mandurah City came out on top of a previously unbeaten Balcatta 2-1 this afternoon Grindleford Reserve. Goals from Jeff Bright and Ryan Townsend saw the visitors two-goal the better inside half an hour before Moe Atak pulled one back for the home team. Despite Balcatta dominating the second half for long stretches, Mandurah were able to hang on to record their second win of the season.
Balcatta made the brighter start, controlling the opening exchanges and always the more threatening when going forward. However, it was the visitors that struck after 12 minutes through a combination of good luck and poor goalkeeping. Bright carried the ball down the left before sending crossing into the area where the ball drifted over an out of position goalkeeper Lewis Italiano and into the net. Balcatta, stunned at being a goal down, had salt rubbed into the wound in the 28th minute when John Migas limped out of the game with a groin injury.
Sixty seconds later Mandurah doubled their lead, Bright’s inviting corner finding Townsend who powerfully head in at the near post. Balcatta found a way back into the game in the 42nd minute when Adam Tong’s long ball sat perfectly for Atak to volley past ‘keeper Phil Straker. The closing moments of the half were frenetic with an offside call robbing Balcatta of a penalty before play switched to the other end where Tommy Jones found the net but had his effort struck off, also for offside.
The loss of Daniel Micevski to injury at the break didn’t hamper Balcatta who dominated the second half as they searched of an equaliser. Mandurah by contrast were content to sit back and absorb pressure before looking to pounce on the counterattack. In the 65th minute Anthony Danze was denied a goal by Straker’s fine one-handed save. Five minutes later Spencer Harris’ cross-field pass released Geneveo Human, who showed Seb Bell a clean pair of heels before centring to Tong whose header was cleared off the line by a defender.
Mandurah were still creating chances, the most notable of which came when Lucas Whitehouse hit the top of the crossbar from 18-metres after controlling Bright’s cross-field ball. Balcatta appeals for an 89th minute penalty went unheeded after a defender cleared the ball from Human’s forehead. Substitute Graham Rickman had a golden opportunity to seal the game for Mandurah but headed wide Andy Brown’s cross to the back post. That miss was forgotten just a few seconds later as Scragg blew his whistle for the final time.
PERTH FIND THE WINNING TOUCH (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
Andreas Oliviera grabbed a double as Perth SC recorded their first league victory of the season with an entertaining 4-2 triumph over Stirling Lions at Dorrien Gardens. Oliviera opened the scoring just before the half hour with Robert Sciascia doubling the Blues margin early in the second period. Phil O’Callaghan reduced the deficit and Adam Bachiller restored the hosts two-goal buffer before Scott Muirhead set up a tense finish. The game was ultimately settled eight minutes from the end by Oliviera’s second of the evening.
Both sides were guilty of giving the ball away too easily during the opening stages. Stirling were within centimetres of taking a 4th minute lead when Jamie Watt’s deflected cross bounced off the top of the crossbar. Oliviera had a shot at the far post charged down after Craig Simpson had glanced a free kick into his path, while David Onoforo completely miscued from the edge of the 18-yard box following a neat move down the left involving Bachiller and Sciascia.
Onoforo made amends for his earlier blemish in the 29th minute by robbing Ross Anderson just outside the area and squaring for Oliviera, who side-footed in from 10-metres. Moments later Stirling goalkeeper James Turvill did well to parry Jason Dos Santos’ fierce angled strike, then Trent Kay headed an Antonio Naglieri free kick over. Jamie Watt was brought down inside the penalty area but then squandered a golden opportunity to bring the teams level when his spot kick was saved by Devon Spence.
Perth started the second half brightly, Bachiller flashing a low drive just past the far post before Sciascia sent a similar effort wide. Their second goal arrived after 52 minutes when Turvill misjudged a long ball, allowing Onoforo to take the ball around him before coolly laying it back for Sciascia to blast into the roof of the net from 9-metres. Dom De Felice almost found goal number three two minutes later but after brilliantly evading two challenges he fired wide from 11-metres. Only a spectacular diving save by Spence from O’Callaghan’s header denied Stirling a 59th minute reply.
However, the visitors were by no means finished and seven minutes later O’Callaghan glanced in a Scott Muirhead corner. Bachiller gave Perth breathing space with a brilliant turn and shot from just inside the area on 72 minutes. But Muirhead made it three-two with 12 minutes remaining when he pounced at close range after Perth failed to deal with a long throw-in. Oliviera secured a home victory in the 82nd minute, tapping into an empty net after Onoforo unselfishly squared the ball in the counter attack.
Perth coach Ronnie Campbell was delighted with his side’s performance, and their first of the campaign. “It was very important (to win),” he said. “We’ve got a bye next week and then we’re playing the NTC after that … so we needed to win today. I thought their commitment was first-class, I thought every player gave 100 per cent and I thought it was a good game. It’s always easy after the game but I thought the referee had a great game, he let the game flow. It was a great game, six goals and I thought both teams played to win and I thought it was a really good spectacle.”
ARMADALE ESCAPE WITH A POINT (with Elle Mitaros, Football West)
Armadale overturned a two-goal deficit to earn a 2-2 draw from their encounter with ECU Joondalup at Alfred Skeet Oval. First half goals by Ian McMurray and Jon Higgins had the visitors sitting comfortably at the break, however, Craig Young and Steve McDonald netted in the final quarter hour to complete a miraculous comeback. “I’m happy with how the boys played. We dominated the first half, but clearly lost it in the second half,” said Joondalup coach Steve Amphlett, who was disappointed his team lost focus late on. “Armadale were awarded a controversial penalty in the 80th minute, equalising the game. We should have won, but what can you do.”
The opening passages were difficult to watch as both teams resorted to playing a long ball game. Joondalup had gained the upper hand by midway through the half and on 31 minutes McMurray chipped over goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock and into the top corner to break the deadlock. Visiting custodian Andy Banks squashed Armadale’s hopes of equalising by skilfully intercepting Tom Robinson’s low strike a few minutes later. A foul by McDonald just outside the box was all the invitation Higgins needed to double his teams lead, the Joondalup midfielder sending the ball into the top corner from 20-metres.
Ross Diamond weaved between two defenders to be one-on-one with Banks early in the second half but the attacker’s shot skimmed the outside of the post. A questionable offside call robbed Joondalup a third goal in the 72nd minute, referee Hugh Best initially awarding the goal only to change his mind moments later. Armadale heeded the warning and on 75 minutes Young found the back of the net after receiving a short free kick. Another arguable referee’s decision five minutes later allowed McDonald to send Banks the wrong way from the spot and bring the teams level at two-all.
SORRENTO TOO GOOD FOR NTC (by Tommy Doleman, Football West)
Todd Harnwell scored three times to orchestrate Sorrento a 5-1 victory over the National Training Centre at Percy Doyle Reserve. David Foster got the hosts off to a flyer, Harnwell struck his first two minutes later with Blamo QuaQua bringing the NTC back into the game nine minutes from the break. Todd Harnwell added two more following the turnaround with Kyle Moran also amongst the goals. The win backs up the Gulls State League Cup defeat of Forrestfield United and serves as perfect preparation for next weekend’s clash with Floreat Athena.
Sorrento were in control from the get-go, although it took 13 minutes for their first serious chance on goal but Jack Doyle’s header failed to trouble goalkeeper Tim Doyle. A Jamie Harnwell header back across goal was all the invitation Foster needed to head in the Gulls opening goal after 24 minutes. An error in midfield two minutes later was pounced on by David Price who fed the loose ball through for Todd Harnwell to send past the ‘keeper for a two-nil lead.
The NTC would have been three down had it not been for a wonderful save from Doyle that denied Todd Harnwell. The young visitors halved the deficit somewhat against the run of play on 36 minutes, QuaQua cutting in from the left to curl a sublime effort beyond the reach of Curtis Aspden. This gave the NTC renewed confidence and in the shadows of half time Aspden was tested twice, first by Brandon O’Neill and then the impressive QuaQua again.
Brodie Martin forced a wonderful save from Doyle, and minutes struck just wide of the target as Sorrento began the second period at full pace. Their reward arrived in the 58th minute when Martin’s shot was parried by Doyle and Todd Harnwell swept the loose ball into an empty net. Back came the NTC but Reece Vittiglia’s curling shot was just past the post, and later substitute Chris Rizidis lifted high of the crossbar under pressure from Daryl Platten.
With six minutes left on the clock Sorrento found the net for a fourth time, Aspden’s booming clearance was misjudged by Doyle and Moran had the simple task of stroking into an empty net. The Gulls added a fifth just a minute later as another mistake allowed Todd Harnwell to complete his hat-trick, scooping his shot over an out of position Doyle to wrap up a morale boosting win. Unfortunately, with no points on offer the outcome does nothing to ease the Gulls away from the bottom of the Premier League table.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
This week’s match of the round takes us to Nash Field on Sunday when Western Knights come up against Floreat Athena (3.00pm). Knights boss Carl Medica knows his team needs to be on top of their game if they’re to get the better of Floreat. “It’s a bit of a danger game as I’m sure they will be hungry for a win after two straight defeats,” said Medica. “But we have always tried to make Nash Field a fortress - we don’t lose many games down here. My boys want to continue the good start we have had to the season and carry on the momentum … it should be a great game.”
Floreat may not won at the Knights in five seasons but assistant coach Taki Nicolaides says the time is right for that run to end. “A trip to the Knights is tough and whilst have not won there for a while for me that is all in the past,” said Nicolaides. “We will work on a few things at training this week and will expect our boys to put their best foot forward on Sunday.” The recent arrival of former national league player Callum O’Connell has strengthened Floreat’s playing stocks, however, the visitors will enter the game without teenage defender Jack Allen (suspension).
The remainder of the round takes place on Saturday, starting with Balcatta verses Mandurah City at Grindleford Reserve (3.00pm). Michael Roki’s team are the only one with two wins from their two league starts, the most recent a stunning 4-1 mauling of ECU Joondalup. Young goalkeeper Lewis Italiano has been in great form, while Daniel Micevski and Mo Atak give them pace down the flanks. Mandurah went down last time out and will need big efforts from Lucas Whitehouse, Jeff Bright, Ivan Zuvela and Ryan Townsend if they are to take anything from the afternoon.
There won’t be a great deal separating Cockburn City and Bayswater City at the end of their 90 minutes at Dalmatinac Park (3.00pm). Rory Feely earned Cockburn a point last week and the young striker again has a key role to play alongside Johnny Mirco. Marc Anthony should return to the line-up following injury, whereas Anthony Pereira misses the game through suspension. Gianni Papalia kept Perth SC scoreless last time out and his efforts as well as those of George Tchami, David Sesay and Cisco Jorquiera will determines Bayswater’s fortunes.
Armadale will be out to build on the weekend’s successes when ECU Joondalup call in at Alfred Skeet Oval (3.00pm). Tom Robinson scored twice in the away win at Floreat Athena and his partnership with Anthony Campbell will be crucial for the Reds. Craig Young comes up against his former club and with youngsters Tom Kennedy and Daniel Paredes in good form the Reds have reason to fancy their chances. Joondalup enter the afternoon without midfielder Scott Blackmore (suspension) but have Ian McMurray and Jordan Dodd knocking on the door of the first eleven.
Sorrento returns to league action with a home fixture against the National Training Centre at Percy Doyle Reserve (3.00pm). Injury has not been kind to the Gulls who have Shane Webb and Adam Luca in doubt, however, not all the news is bad as Danny Cain (eye) and David Foster (foot) are back in contention following time on the sidelines. Reece Vittiglia and Josh Risdon were outstanding in the NTC’s Premier League debut outing seven days ago, and for this weekend Sam Mitchinson and Adam Taggart have put their hands up for selection.
Round two concludes with at Dorrien Gardens where Perth SC and Stirling Lions meet under lights (6.30pm). Neither has started the season as they’d have liked and both want the three points on offer to breathe life into their 2011 campaign. Matt Danskin and Robert Sciascia are pushing for a starting spot after appearances off the bench for Perth, who’ve had Andreas Oliviera and Antonio Naglieri in fine form. Stirling coach Paul Lincoln returns home from overseas to find he’s without Ludovic Boi (suspension) and Jamie Watt (broken hand) for the weekend. Former Perth Glory striker Anthony Skorich is expected to make his first start for Stirling.
O'CONNOR READIES FOR THE CHAMPIONS
Stirling Lions recruit Garreth O’Connor is looking forward to matching skills with State League Champions Perth SC this weekend. O’Connor, who was signed from Irish Premier League side St Patricks, says Stirling will be pulling out all the stops to register their first win of the new campaign against one of the local scenes top outfits. “You always like to play against the best teams and everyone tells me Perth are the benchmark so we know it will be a tough game,” the midfielder said. “I watched them the other week and they looked impressive. They lost their first home game like us, so both sides will be desperate to kick start their season. But we hope to come away with the three points.”
O’Connor, 32, hooked up with his new team mates at Macedonia Park only three weeks ago after being convinced to try his luck down under by Jason Gavin. “My move to the Lions came about through Jason, who I played in the same side as in Ireland,” he explained. “I sent Don (Evans) a video of me playing in England and the rest is history as they say. I’m really enjoying Perth, it’s so different to back home, I love the weather and the beaches … everyone at the club have been really friendly and helpful, and I’ve settled in really well.”
O’Connor admits he struggled through is first outing as a Stirling player. “I found my debut against Cockburn City tough going as I’m a bit short of match fitness and the warm weather, it might take me another few weeks to get used to it,” said O’Connor, who brings to the club a wealth of playing knowledge gleamed from a career in Ireland and England. “I played for English clubs Bournemouth for five years, Burnley for three years and Luton Town for five months before moving over to Ireland, where I played for St Patricks and Drogheda.”
The highlight of O’Connor’s time in English came during his 213-game spell with Bournemouth. “In 2004 I played in the League Two play-off finals against Lincoln City. It was a great day for me, I scored a good goal and played a part in the other four in the 5-2 win. It was live on TV and there was 35,000 in attendance at the Millennium Stadium,” he recalled. “I played against some great players over the years but Ryan Giggs was the most difficult opponent I’ve played on, it was only a testimonial game but you could still see his class.”
DOLPHINS BACK ON COURSE WITH BRAZIL
Mandurah City have made a positive start to the latest chapter in their history under Mike Brazil. The well-travelled coach stepped into the breach following Stuart Young’s sudden departure four weeks ago and in that short time has transformed the sides fortunes. Winless in pre-season, Mandurah opened the regular season by defeating local powerhouse Perth SC, and although they went down to Inglewood United a week later the Dolphins bounced straight back with a State League Cup win over ECU Joondalup.
For Brazil the job has only just stated as he focuses on building on the positives and gets Mandurah back on track after what really has been a difficult few months. “The potential was always there, all I have done along with (assistant coach) Ryan Townsend and a few of the senior boys is given the players belief and respect after a disappointing Night Series,” Brazil said. “The most important thing is this group is hungry for success and they are prepared to do the hard work for each other.”
Like everyone at Mandurah, Brazil was stunned by the resignation of Young just weeks out from the new league season. “It was a shock when Stuart resigned. I cannot speak for Stuart’s decision to leave but in the short time that I worked with him he was most professional in his approach to coaching,” said Brazil, who gratefully accepted the challenge of stepping up from assistant to head coach. “It’s been a very easy transition for me due to the foundations that Stuart put in place.”
Brazil could not have asked more from his first game in charge after Mandurah came from behind to defeat State League Champions Perth 2-1. “I think nobody outside Mandurah gave us any chance in that game,” he said. “The lead up was excellent with really good harmony throughout the playing group at training. Both myself and Ryan believed we could steal a point, but to get all three was unbelievable. I’m so proud of this group of players, they fully deserve their rewards.”
Mandurah were celebrating that result when they faced Inglewood according to Brazil. “We certainly had chances but overall we were flat which I think had a lot to do with the squad were still basking in the win over Perth,” said the coach, who was pleased with the teams Cup performance against Joondalup a few days later. “We had a good chat before this game and the boys focused focus on the game and not the past. They really wanted this one and dug deep to get through to the next round.”
Mandurah have struggled at youth level for a number of years but things finally appeared to be on the up. “The club has installed a director of coaching in Brad Rushton, who is slowly working his way through the various squads and planning with his coaches the best way forward,” explained Brazil. “This is not something that will happen overnight but I believe the club has now identified this area as something that requires serious re-structuring which has now started.”
The club’s plight has not been helped by their best young talent being snapped up by clubs from the metropolitan area. “The long term goal is to provide these kids with a pathway within the Mandurah system all the way to the first team and beyond,” Brazil added. “This can only happen with good coaching at youth level and the youth squads playing in what is the highest level of youth football in this state. Again this is our goal and Brad and his team are strongly working towards achieving this.”
Brazil has enjoyed a long coaching career in the State League and was considering taking his ‘A’ License in Asia before opportunity presented itself at Mandurah. “The best way to describe my coaching career is I am well travelled,” Brazil joked. “I have had a few clubs but to be honest I go into a club with the best intentions but as soon as I start to get interference - and there has been plenty of this over the years - I simply move on.”
Next up for Mandurah is visit to Balcatta, who are the league’s only team with a perfect win record after two games. “From what I have seen of Balcatta they appear to be very well organized and disciplined, and can score from many different areas of team,” commented Brazil, who is confident of returning home with all three points. “Mandurah will go into this game with the same confidence as we did against Joondalup and Perth, there is a really good work ethic in this group of players just now.”
WILLIAMS MOTORING ON
Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray has labelled Rhys Williams a 'Rolls Royce' and likened the versatile youngster to ex-England international Gary Pallister. 22-year old Williams made his first start in almost twelve months on Tuesday with a full game as struggling Middlesbrough defeated Derby County 2-1. "Rhys is a Rolls Royce really. He covers the ground so effortlessly. When he tackles he reminds me of Gary Pallister," Mowbray told mfc.co.uk. "He's got these like snake legs, an extension gadget leg that comes out. You don't think he's going to get there but he manages to make great challenges and great tackles."
Williams usually occupies a midfield role with Boro but against Derby was utilised in the centre of defence. "Whether that's his position, we'll wait and see," added Mowbray. "Stephen McManus will probably join the squad on Saturday and Andrew Davies is knocking on my door every day to tell me he's just about ready, so the competition will be there in a week or two. "Rhys doesn't know himself where he wants to play. Hopefully the result says we got it right tonight though." Middlesbrough are now six points clear of the drop zone in 20th.
VAN DONGEN HAS A POINT TO PROVE
Goal scoring midfielder Paul Van Dongen can think of a better than getting Floreat Athena’s season back on track by bringing down his former club, Western Knights. Floreat, pointless after two league outings, venture to the Knights on Sunday afternoon with Van Dongen eagerly anticipating the reception of his former team mates. “I’m excited for this weekend. It’s always good coming up against a team filled with your mates but I’m sure they won’t be too friendly to me come 3.00pm on Sunday,” Van Dongen said.
Van Dongen, who played many seasons at Canning City before joining the Knights last season, has mixed feelings on his time at Nash Field. “My Knights experience was short but sweet. The lads down there were brilliant and some of the people behind the scenes, like (club president) Miso Bunic, are the sort of people you want standing behind any club you play for,” Van Dongen said. “But from a footballing side, I was disappointed not to get a look in toward the end of the season after (coach) Paul Price was let go.”
Floreat’s recent form has been a far cry from that which won them the pre-season Night Series. “The Night Series win was definitely a good way to kick off the year,” commented Van Dongen. “We went into the Night Series with a whole new team and didn’t really know what to expect, but AK (coach Ante Kovacevic) had us gelling well throughout the early pre-season with some really intense and specific sessions so I was confident we’d hit the ground running.”
Despite suffering back-to-back losses to Cockburn City and Armadale, Van Dongen assures us Floreat are not too far away from their first three points. “To get no points from two games is definitely disappointing,” he stated. “The first game against Cockburn was ridiculously hot - especially in long sleeves and with no drinks break. But not making excuses because the conditions were the same for both sides. Cockburn looked a bit fresher than we did and probably deserved the win.”
Floreat had just a little to show seven days later when they bowed down to Armadale on home turf. “Against Army we were really unlucky, I think we hit the woodwork four times and had a goal not paid that clearly crossed the line all in the first half - and if they went in it could have been a blowout score line,” said Van Dongen. “The pitch was very patchy and didn't help either side, but in the end we made a couple defensive errors that cost us.”
With those results now in the past, attentions have turned to Sunday’s match at the Knights where it’s been five long years since Floreat sampled victory. “I did hear that Athena have a bad record at Nash Field but maybe that was the old Athena,” enthused Van Dongen, one of several players who moved to Floreat during the off-season. “This is a whole new team and it’s the clubs in its 60th year so I’m hoping this weekend is a new beginning for Athena’s form at Nash Field.”
Something Van Dongen has up his sleeve is inside knowledge on the Knights seemingly numerous weaknesses. “I know some of the players’ strengths and weaknesses,” he said tongue in cheek. “Duncan Hind always dives in; Stuart Montgomery always hits the ball first time in the box; big Stu Ferguson is a sucker for getting caught up in a bit of banter; Simon Versaico always goes right and Garth Lecky’s got a big first touch under pressure. And we’ll look to exploit some of those areas on the weekend.”
In all seriousness, Van Dongen knows how difficult Nash Field can be to play on and is confident the Floreat coaching staff have done their homework thoroughly. “They key for the weekend on the small park at Nash Field will be catching the Knights on the counter attack,” commented Ven Dongen. “I know that AK and Taki (Nicolaides) have a pretty specific game plan in mind. So hopefully we can implement that plan, get the three points and get our season back on track.”
GLORY CLOSES IN ON SMELTZ
Perth Glory are confident of bringing New Zealand international Shane Smeltz west for next season with the club’s chief executive Paul Kelly saying they are “99%” sure to secure the striker’s services. Kelly confirmed on SportFM’s ‘Sports Breakfast’ show that an offer had been put to 30-year old Smeltz, whose Gold Coast United bowed out of the A-League finals race on Saturday. “We’ve made an offer to Shane and now it’s up to Shane to accept that,” Kelly said. “We think we’re 99% there.” Kelly’s comments come just days after Glory signed Adelaide United skipper Travis Dodd to a two-year deal.
Kelly was called on to defend Glory’s recruitment of several players aged over 30, including Dodd and Dean Heffeman, but admitted the club had to inject some youth into the squad. “I think we have a gap between 19 and 25-year old players that we’re lacking and that may (need to be) our focus,” he said. “The revival of Perth Glory will be totally reliant on us embracing and developing talent from the local league. We have to play a part in developing that talent (because) they are not ready for the A-League yet. The future of the club will hinge on the development of WA talent.”
FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME NOMINATIONS OPEN
Nominations are now being sought for possible induction into the Football Hall of Fame Western Australia, with the next awards ceremony to be held this November. The Football Hall of Fame WA was launched in 1996 and the 2011 induction will be the fifth occasion on which the greats of the game in WA have been honoured. The roll of honour so far has embraced a total of 123 former players, coaches, administrators, referees and others who have made a significant contribution to the game since 1896.
Nominations for the 2011 induction are being sought in three categories. The Hall of Champions honours the elite players, the Hall of Merit for Players for those who enjoyed considerable success and made an outstanding contribution to the game, and the Hall of Recognition salutes the contributions made by administrators, coaches, referees and others. Football Hall of Fame WA nomination forms are available from Football West and must be and returned to Barbara Gibson (9526 0330) no later than 30 April 2011. The Committee of the Hall of Fame reserves the right to make the final judgement on all nominees.
GARCIA CLOSING IN ON RETURN
Richard Garcia is set to give Hull City midfield and attacking options a further boost as he targets a return from knee surgery. Garcia has yet to play for the Tigers in 2011 after undergoing a knee operation but, now back in full training, the attacker hopes to soon be in a position to press for first team selection. "It's really good to be back out on the training ground and kicking a ball again," Garcia told hullcityafc.net. "Hopefully I can get some match fitness back and get a few practice games under my belt. From there, I will try and push for a starting spot."
Garcia has played much of his career operating down the right wing but prior injuring his knee switched to becoming Hull's lone striker. "I had been enjoying my football and I was experiencing a different role, playing up front by myself," said Garcia, who scored his first goal in two seasons when Hull defeated Preston North End in November. "We started to find our feet, get together as a team and started getting the results we wanted. That has continued which is great."
Hull have lost just twice in 19 league games to move within only a few points of the Championship playoffs, and a return to the Premier League. "As a club, I think we have always been destined to be back up there and that was our ambition at the start of the season," Garcia said. "With all of the goings on, that maybe affected us at the start of the season, but we've got to grips with things and now that everything is settled off the park, we're settled on it and it shows." Garcia's challenge now is to force his way back into that line-up.
COCKBURN SURVIVE SHOOT OUT (with Elle Mitaros, Football West)
Cockburn City snuck into the second round of the State League Cup by out-shooting Inglewood United 3-2 from the penalty spot. With the teams' level at 4-4 after 120 minutes, the game went to penalties with Dejan Aleksic emerging as Cockburn's hero with a trio of saves that left the home side frustrated. "From being up two-nil in the first half, then going to penalties, we let it slip," admitted Cockburn striker Rory Feely. "Penalties is not the best way to win a game, but we came out on top at the end of the day and that's all that counts."
Cockburn could not have dreamt of a better start with Alex Dibley tucking the opening goal into the bottom right of Oliver Taseski's net just 3 minutes in. This set the stage for the Cockerels to dominate the first half with both Dibley and Rory Feely having numerous opportunities to extend their lead. Going the other way it was Ndumba Makeche's pace that unlocked Cockburn's defence but the striker was unable to make the most of several one-on-one's with Dejan Aleksic. Ryan Clarke went closer than his team mate in the 20th minute with a fine shot that skimmed the crossbar. Luck was smiling on Michael Grigo in the 32nd minute when he posted Cockburn's second goal.
Inglewood came out firing for the second half with Rory Grant reducing the deficit four minutes after the restart. A fine pass out of midfield in the 53rd minute allowed Feely to post his first goal and restore Cockburn's two-goal buffer. Brendan Craig forced a response from Aleksic as the teams traded attacks, while at the other end it was Dibley and Feely who went close to sealing Cockburn win. With ten minutes left on the clock Inglewood's attacking desires were rewarded with a Clarke goal, and four minutes later Alex Stamatiadis showed spectacular skill in lashing the ball into the back of the net to make it three-all.
The thrills flowed through into extra time with Feely putting the visitors back in front after 96 minutes, but parity was soon restored by Craig's fierce low strike. And with neither team able to conjure up what would have been a match winning fifth goal, referee David Scragg signalled for penalty kicks. Aleskic guessed correctly to keep out early efforts from Craig and James Sammut whereas conversions by Feely and Paul Natale edged Cockburn towards the next round. A perfect shot by Clarke kept Inglewood in the game, Dibley scored his teams' third spot kick before Jake Geddes made it three-two. David Araya's miss gave Inglewood renewed hope but that vanished when Stamatiadis' effort was saved by Aleksic.
MANDURAH KNOCK OUT GALLANT JOONDALUP (with Jordan McArdle, Football West)
Mandurah City dug deep to grind out a 2-1 State league Cup win over top flight rivals ECU Joondalup at Hyundai Stadium. Andrew Brown got the home side off to a perfect start by netting after only a few minutes, with Ian McMurray heading in the equaliser midway through the first half. Lucas Whitehouse put the balance of power back with Mandurah, who worked tirelessly in the second half to repel a determined opponent.
Brown gave Mandurah the perfect start when, with 3 minutes gone, he nodded a throw-in over goalkeeper Andy Banks for the early advantage. Joondalup worked tirelessly to get back on level terms with Jon Higgins creating numerous opportunities, however, strike pair McMurray and John Thornley were unable to capitalise. A swift counter attacking move almost paid dividends for Mandurah, Jake Loretto's perfectly timed pass putting Tommy Jones in space but Banks was up to the task with a terrific save.
Joondalup were rewarded with an equalising goal in the 23rd minute when Ian McMurray got on the end of a well-flighted cross from Ross Laing. Fourteen minutes later Mandurah were back in control after Whitehouse's shot took a deflection before beating the outstretched 'keeper for a two-one lead. The visitors' woes were compounded in the shadows of half time when injury claimed Ross Laing, who had himself earlier come off the bench to replace Matt Italiano.
The introduction of Jake Benson-Cooper had almost immediate effect for Joondalup with the attacker leading his teams push for a second goal. Dale McCulloch continually poked holes in the Mandurah defence and was unlucky not to score with a shot that beat busy 'keeper Tim Smith but hit the crossbar. Mandurah were content to sit back and soak up the pressure as Joondalup took up camp in their attacking half. Appeals for a late penalty following a foul on Thornley were dismissed by the referee, who very soon after blew his whistle for the final time.
BALCATTA BATTER BAYSWATER (with Michael Bate, Football West)
Balcatta showed no mercy to an under-strength Bayswater City who suffered a 5-0 loss in the State League Cup clash at Grindleford Reserve. A double from Daniel Micevski coupled with an Adam Tong penalty put the home side well on their way to victory by half time, with late finishes from substitute Anthony Danze and Mo Atak added further gloss to the scoreline. It was a dominant display from Balcatta who faced what was a Bayswater second eleven after coach Mauro Marchione made eleven changes to the side that held Perth SC in the league three days earlier.
The youthful Bayswater line-up held their own for much of the opening twenty minutes, however, the visitors' inexperience always looked like costing them. The deadlock was broken on 23 minutes when Jason Barrera won the ball in midfield and fed Ashley Rosindale, whose through ball allowed Micevski to slide his shot underneath goalkeeper Francis Allen. Barrera was again involved in the 36th minute, the midfielder's shot ruled by referee Paul Anderson to have struck the hand of Joseph Sieh and from the spot Tong made no mistake.
Micevski should have had a second goal in the 40th minute when Barrera and Rosindale again combined to set up the midfielder whose effort kissed the wrong side of the crossbar. However, just five minutes later the same three players combined to greater effect, Barrera starting the move by teeing up Rosindale whose shot was well saved by Allen with Micevski pouncing on the loose ball which he shielded before firing into the net on the turn from 5-metres.
Bayswater substitute George Nelson very nearly pulled a goal back in the 54th minute but was denied by a brilliant one handed save from Lewis Italiano, who had been a virtual spectator until that point. From then on it was one-way traffic with the home team dominant as Spencer Harris, Rosindale and Danze all put shots wide of the mark. Bayswater's day took a turn for the worse when Gustavo Marulanda limped off inured, and having used their substitute played the closing stages with ten men.
However, they refused to give up and Joshua Tumoe was sent through on goal in the 83rd minute only to be thwarted by Jovo Pavlovic's superb last-ditch tackle. Balcatta's second half dominance was finally rewarded when Danze volleyed in after a great stoppage time run by Atak. The icing was put on Balcatta's cake two minutes later when Atak rounded off the victory with a much deserved goal of his own. The win sees Balcatta continue their 100% start to the season, whereas Bayswater will go back to focusing on the top flight.
TEN MEN OF SWAN SURRENDER TO KNIGHTS
Western Knights needed extra time before seeing off a ten man Swan United in the first round State League Cup clash at the Swan Italian Club. Simon Versaico put the Knights one-nil up on the stroke of half time, but only after the black and whites went a man down with the red carding of Trent Wood. Swan refused to allow their opponents to run away with the game in the second period and struck a deserved equaliser through John Monterosso. However, extra time finishes by Versacio and Stuart Montgomery ensured there’d be no fairy tale Cup run for Swan.
The home side made a positive start with a John Monterosso shot deflected away by David Annall before Rory Hollingum flashed past the post following a corner. In the 13th minute John Mansaray played in John Monterosso but this time goalkeeper Frazer Siddall was out quick to save at his feet. The Knights, playing for the second time three days, looked lethargic but did threaten on 17 minutes when Montgomery’s cross from was taken off Versaico’s boot by Daniel Agudelo.
Swan continued to take the game up to their more fancied opponents, Michael Tronchin volleying narrowly high from 7-metres and John Monterosso forcing a good save from Siddall. The game was turned on its head late in the half, beginning with the dismissal of Wood after 37 minutes for a rash tackle that gained the midfielder his second yellow card. This was further punished eight minutes later when Branimir Mikulic slid the ball into the 18-yard box for Versacio to finished past Agudelo from 6-metres.
With an extra player on the park, the Knights were quick to assert authority after the restart. Glen Thomas’ through ball set up Mikulic whose shot from 10-metres cannoned back off the crossbar to be cleared by Hollingum. Agudelo then came to the rescue with a superb double save that left Versacio and Mikulic frustrated. Swan substitute Craig Tooley had an immediate impact by unleashing a long range shot that Siddall saved low.
Swan drew level on 68 minutes when Scott Campbell sent to the ball to the top of the box where John Monterosso’s shot on the turn flew past Siddall on its way into the bottom corner . The pace quickened considerably over the closing stages as the Knights attempted to avoid 30 extra minutes. Montgomery tried his luck from distant but shot straight at Agudelo and five minutes later same player crossed for Ryan Shackleton whose effort was blocked by the ‘keeper with Thomas putting the follow-up over the crossbar.
This same pattern flowed through into extra time with the Knights needing only seven minutes before regaining the lead, Mikulic the provider for Versacio who made no mistake from 5-metres. Agudelo kept the home team alive by saving from substitute Paul Cooke not long after. The game was eventually wrapped up six minutes into the second period with the goal of the game, Cormac Dawson feeding Montgomery who from 22-metres brilliantly curled into the top corner.
No one was happier than Knights coach Carl Medica when the final whistle sounded. “Probably not one of our better performances but it’s a 3-1 win and we go on to the next round,” Medica said. “We know we were in for a battle and in any Cup games if you don’t take your chances it come back to haunt you. Swan they pressed us all afternoon and didn’t let us play our normal game but the lads, who were backing up from a game on Saturday, finished them off in extra time which was pleasing.”
DE ABREU GOES SOLO IN SECOND-HALF BLITZ (with Chris Correia, Football West)
Stirling Lions defence of the State League Cup got off to a cracking start thanks to a Jamie De Abreu hat-trick which helped see off Spearwood Dalmatinac 5-0 at Macedonia Park. De Abreu came off the bench at half time to score three times amidst goal from Phil O'Callaghan and Huss Awada. Unfortunately, it wasn't all smiles for the home team who had star midfielder Ludovic Boi sent off in the closing stages for retaliation.
The first real opportunity of the afternoon came via Joey Brunetto but the Spearwood striker blazed over the crossbar after receiving a great pass from David Pallin. An in-swinging Scott Muirhead corner was somehow cleared off the goal line by Stuart Connell as Stirling attempted to grab an early opener. Visiting goalkeeper Pedro Pavez kept his side in the contest with a number of crucial saves, denying Muirhead twice in quick succession.
Boi was unlucky not to put Stirling one-up but after a superb run through midfield he shot wide. A golden opportunity then went begging for the home side as Awada played across the face of goal for O'Callaghan who somehow failed to connect with what would have been an easy tap-in. Spearwood almost grabbed a shock lead in the shadows of half time with Jordan Andrews' cross headed against the bar by Brunetto.
The second half was only six minutes old when De Abreu embarked on a driving run which he ended by slotting past Pavez. This didn't deter Spearwood though and another Brunetto shot kissed the wrong side of the post just minutes after. Boi would have had his side's second goal if not for a superb fingertip save by Pavez. However, there was little the 'keeper could do on 69 minutes when O'Callaghan finished neatly after side stepping a defender.
De Abreu scored the game of the game in the 74th minute with a stunning 23-metre bomb that made it three-nil. The striker could have completed his hat-trick a few minutes later but hit the post from an acute angle. New recruit Gareth O'Conner played through Awada who scored goal number four in the 84th minute, and soon after De Abreu's rocket from outside the 18-yard box sealed the rout. Referee Ross Sardi issued Boi his marching orders two minutes from the end after he lashed out at an opponent.
SHAMROCK CRUISE INTO SECOND ROUND
Shamrock Rovers were rarely troubled in thrashing Belmont Villa 6-0 at Harold Rossiter Park. First half finishes by Damian Smyth, Gavin Mooney and Alan O’Mahoney set the home side down the road to victory with Sean Brookes, Alan Carroll and Nick Carroll completing the rout in the second half. “The boys linked up as a team on all six goals, which from a coaches perspective is always good to see,” said assistant coach Damian Pugh. “It was also pleasing to keep a clean sheet as we know these will be crucial in our efforts for success this year.”
The opening passages gave no indication of the goal avalanche that was to come with play evenly distributed between the two teams. Smyth’s pace was causing problems for the Belmont defence and on 20 minute he beat two opponents before slotting in the game first goal. Eight minutes later Mooney arrived at the back post to head in from 5-metres after some neat lead-up work between Nick Carroll and Ian Stack. Shamrock were on a roll and three minutes from the break Smyth playing into the 18-yard box where defender O’Mahoney, who had run the full length of the field, lashed in.
Goal number four arrived for Shamrock in the 61st minute when Smyth’s ball in from the right made its way to the back post where newly introduced substitute Brooks tapped into the net. The pick of the goals came with ten minutes to go when defender Cathal Quinn knocked the ball on to Barry Mulligan, his deft touch split open the defence before Nick Carroll clipped a pass to Alan Carroll who from the edge of the box volleyed into the top corner. The final nail in Belmont’s coffin came eight minutes later when Smythe was brought down inside the area, and Nick Carroll duly converted the resulting spot kick.
GULLS GLIDE PAST FORRESTFIELD
Sorrento progressed to the next round of the State League Cup overcoming Division One side Forrestfield United 4-1 on front of a small crowd at Hartfield Park. The Gulls wasted numerous goal scoring opportunities in the first half before kicking into gear after the break with a couple of quick goals from Todd Harnwell and Jack Doyle. Anthony Lyons pulled one back for the visitors but that ultimately counted for nothing as Todd Harnwell and Jamie Harnwell added to the tally in the final minutes.
The visitors attacked from the outside and inside a few minutes Todd Harnwell had headed wide and Doyle brought goalkeeper Stuart Delgarno into the action for the first time. A corner by Doyle was met by Todd Harnwell whose shot smacked into the post, and later the Sorrento captain watched as Delgarno deflected a goal bound strike wide with his legs. Forrestfield were doing all they could to repel the visiting team with Delgarno never far away from the drama, the ‘keeper tipping away a first time attempt by Daryl Platten. The final chance of the half came the way of Todd Harnwell whose header drifted past the post.
It looked as though luck was going to remain against Sorrento after the break when an unmarked Jamie Harnwell headed just high from a David Price cross. However, on 57 minutes Doyle found himself in the right place at the right time to net from lose in after Delgano parried another shot from Todd Harnwell. Seven minutes later Cameron Yorke clipped the ball over the defence for Todd Harnwell, who had time and space to a accurately lob over Delgarno and inside the upright for goal number two.
A 71st minute defensive mix-up allowed Forrestfield back into the game, Platten and goalkeeper Curtis Aspen each hesitating at a Kynon Melling cross, allowing Lyons to execute a simple tap in much to the delight of the home supporters. Forrestfield smelled an upset and in quick succession Melling and Andy Harold fired past the target. But the game was just as quickly put to bed, Doyle slipped the ball through to Jamie Harnwell who drew the ‘keeper before squaring for Todd Harnwell to touch into an empty net. A minute later Todd Harnwell was provider for Jamie Harnwell to complete the route.
FLORES WINS JOHNNY WARREN MEDAL
Adelaide playmaker Marcos Flores has continued the run of foreign players to claim the Johnny Warren Medal, earning the A-League's highest individual honour after a stellar first full season in Australia. Flores was named the national league’s player of the year tonight in Sydney, polling 618 votes from his peers to finish well ahead of Brisbane Roar duo Thomas Broich (495) and Matt McKay (432). The Argentine becomes the third straight foreign player to win the award, following Costa Rican midfielder Carlos Hernandez and New Zealand striker Shane Smeltz.
As expected, Brisbane Roar had a strong presence at the awards ceremony by picking up four gongs. Ange Postecoglou was named Coach of the Year, Michael Theoklitos Goalkeeper of the Year, Erik Paartalu earned the Goal of the Year and the team received the Fair Play Award. Central Coast Mariners’ teenage goalkeeper Mathew Ryan collected the Young Footballer of the Year, with the Golden Boot presented to Adelaide striker Sergio van Dijk. Gold Coast United’s Steven Lustica was named National Youth League Player of the Year and Matthew Breeze the Referee of the Year.
In the women’s awards, Sydney FC’s Kyah Simon scooped the pool by winning the Julie Dolan Medal as W-League Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and the Golden Boot after scoring 11 goals in 12 matches. Sydney’s Heather Garriock owned the Goal of the Year, Sky Blues’ Alen Stajcic was named Coach of the Year while Goalkeeper of the Year went to Canberra United’s Lydia Williams.
WILLIAMS BACK FOR BORO
Socceroo Rhys Williams returned to first team action for the first time in over ten months as Middlesbrough lost 5-2 at Reading in England's Championship yesterday. Williams, who had been sidelined due to groin and pelvic injuries, returned to the Boro side as a 60th minute substitute. “For me the main positive is that Rhys played half an hour today,” Boro boss Tony Mowbray said. “He’s got to get up speed pretty quickly. Hopefully he can add competition in the centre-midfield areas at first.” Williams’ return could be in time to be considered for selection in Australia’s friendly with Germany on 29 March.
BALCATTA IN FOUR-MIDABLE FORM (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
Balcatta continued their impressive start to the new season with a comprehensive 4-1 rout of ECU Joondalup at Edith Cowan University. Adam Tong put the visitors ahead from the penalty spot midway through the first half before Ashley Rosindale struck either side of the break, with Paul Vatistas netting in between. Jordan Dodd’s late goal was nothing more than a consolation for the home team, whose woes were compounded by Scott Blackmore’s stoppage time sending off.
John Thornley had the first chance of the game after 10 minutes but Balcatta goalkeeper Lewis Italiano smothered his close-range effort, albeit with his face. David Micevski and Jon Higgins chipped just over the crossbar at opposite ends of the park as the teams sought the lead. With 22 minutes gone Floreat posted their first goal when Tong made no mistake from the penalty spot after Rosindale had been sent tumbling to the ground.
The lead was almost doubled moments later, Blackmore’s attempt to clear a Micevski cross skewing just wide of the upright. Balcatta found the back of the net for a second time on 32 minutes with Rosindale doing brilliantly to get on the end of Simon Elton-Bott’s superb pass which the striker dinked over the oncoming Andy Banks. Joondalup’s ‘keeper ensured there’d be no addition to the score before half time by parrying low long-range efforts from Mo Atak and Rosindale in quick succession.
The second half was only three minutes old when Vatistas’ found the top corner with a stunning strike from the edge of the 18-yard box to make it three-nil. Four minutes later Rosindale added to the hosts misery by taking possession just outside the area, turning sharply and sliding the ball past Banks from 15-metres. At the other end Thornley’s powerful drive from 14-metres could only find the side netting, while the tireless Spencer Harris fired over as Balcatta resumed the attack.
Joondalup substitute Jon Stynes went close to pulling one back but his effort came back off the upright. Micevski was equally unlucky for the visitors with his scuffed strike also hitting the frame of the goal. Daniel Niederberger was thwarted by Banks minutes after coming off the bench, then sent a volley from distance whistling just wide. Joondalup pulled a goal back with six minutes left, Italiano did well to block Thornley’s effort but was helpless as Dodd tapped in from a couple of metres. The match ended on a sour note with Blackmore sent off for a second yellow card offence.
Balcatta boss Roki was understandably delighted with his side’s efforts. “Joondalup are always a tricky side to play against at their park, it’s a little bit smaller and always causes a few problems,” he said. “We came with a little bit of a plan to absorb a bit early on and they had their fair share of the game in the first twenty minutes. But once we got the opening goal ... we’ve got a number of options up there (with) Mo Atak on one side, Ash Rosindale in the middle and on the other side we’ve got Daniel Micevski. So we’ve got three players who can cause all sorts of problems and they did that pretty well today.”
ALL SQUARE AT MACEDONIA PARK
The points were shared at Macedonia Park where Stirling Lions and Cockburn City played out a 1-1 draw. Scott Muirhead gave the home side the lead in the final minute of the first half but six minutes after the turnaround Rory Feely fired in a controversial equaliser. Speaking post-game, Cockburn coach Tony Castiello sid he was happy with the point gained considering his teams below par performance. “We didn’t perform particularly well today, our passing was poor. We’ve got things to work on we know that, but at the end of the day, I’ll take the point,” he said.
The only genuine shot on goal in a quiet opening half hour was angled attempt by Feely that found the side netting. Other than that there was a smattering of half chances created at either end of the park that saw neither goalkeeper tested. In the shadows of half time Stirling sparked into life, Muirhead finding Ludovic Boi but his long-range shot rose just above the crossbar. The deadlock was finally broken in the 44th minute when Gareth O’Connor laid a free-kick back to Muirhead who blasted through the defensive wall and into the net to give the home side a somewhat fortunate lead.
Controversy reigned six minutes into the second half when Feely netted at close range from a centre by Johny Mirco, who was flagged for offside in the lead-up but referee David Costello waved for play to continue. With Stirling still coming to grips with what had happened, Michael Grigo almost put the visitors in front eight minutes later by meeting a deep Adrian Webster cross which he put too close to James Turvill. Stirling wanted a second goal and would have had one had Dejan Aleksic not pushed an O’Connor shot that bounced awkwardly in front of him over the top.
With the three points up for grab, both teams fashioned late openings. Webster played in Mirco whose shot was well saved by Turvill. Five minutes later O’Connor out the ball with an unmarked Boi but his shot from the edge of the 18-yard box flashed just over the bar. Turvill ensured the game would finish level when, seven minutes from full time, he tipped Webster’s long-range effort around the post. Cockburn moves into third position as one of four unbeaten teams whereas Stirling climbs off the bottom of the table, even if only by a single point.
DERBY STALEMATE AS BAYSWATER HOLD PERTH
Bayswater City and Perth SC collected a point each from an at times spiteful traditional derby at Frank Drago Reserve. Current State League champions Perth entered the afternoon expected to bounce back from an opening round loss to Mandurah City and opened their account for the season. However, newly promoted Bayswater proved that they will be no pushover by matching their opponents’ fluent passing game. On another day either team would have claimed maximum points but on this occasion both lacked the decisive touch in front of goal.
It was Bayswater who launched the first meaningful attack when David Sesay fended off Trent Kay but his angled strike was into the side netting after 5 minutes. Perth returned fire not long after with David Onoforo whipping the ball just wide after turning onto an Antonio Naglieri pass. Luke Njegch was fortunate not to receive a card of another colour when he was booked for clattering into Jason Dos Santos. Onoforo was his teams main avenue to goal and on 19 minutes he was played through with only the goalkeeper to bet but was foiled by Gianni Papalia’s courageous smothering save.
Perth were stage starting to find their rhythm but Dos Santos lifted high of the crossbar and Andreas Olivieria had the ball taken off his boot by Papalia, who soon after again frustrated Onoforo. Gavin Knight was presented a golden opportunity to put Bayswater one-up but shot into the crossbar after meeting a Cisco Jorquiera pass in the 35th minute. This had a galvanising effect on the home team and in the minutes that followed Jorquiera and Damien Catalano had shots blocked by the defence before an Sesay stretched Devon Spence.
Bayswater continued in much the same fashion after the turn around with another Sesay strike pushed over the bar by Spence. A minute later play was back at the other end where Onoforo had the target lined up when George Tchami took the ball off his boot. The spotlight fell on referee Michal Jasinski in the 53rd minutes when he showed a red card to Thomas Gooding, then moments later rescinded it after realising the Bayswater player had not been booked earlier in the game. Bayswater were growing in confidence and if not for Shaun Kilkelly’s timely intervention then Knight probably would have scored after 68 minutes.
Danskin showed a clean set of heels to his marker in the 76th minute but his centre was just out of Onoforo’s reach. Two minutes later Sesay found himself in a similar position with his low finish taken by Spence at the second attempt. Knight flashed just past the far post in the 79th minute following another fine passing move from the home side. The game was in stoppage time when the final dram was played out, Kilkelly’s shot from a partially cleared corner was parried by Papalia and De Felice shot into a sea of legs before Bayswater scrambled the ball to safety.
MAKECHE HUMBLES MANDURAH (with Michael Barr, Football West)
An inspirational performance by Ndumba Makeche lifted Inglewood United to a 2-0 win over Mandurah City at Hyundai Stadium. Makeche, signed in the off-season from Stirling Lions, scored his teams opening goal early in the second half before setting up Rory Grant for the sealing goal seven minutes later. The win was the perfect way for Inglewood to respond to last weekend’s narrow loss, moving the club into fifth position at the end of round two.
The game was given a crackerjack start by Lucas Whitehouse who volleyed wide in the 1st minute to the gasps of the home crowd. Mandurah were determined to be first on the scoreboard and Matt Stares long ball landed perfectly for Jeff Bright but he headed wide. Inglewood slowly pulled themselves back into the game with some tidy movement of the ball through midfield, leading to a string of attacks on goal.
In the 20th minute Grant played into the box for Jason Colli who was foiled in a one-on-one by Phil Straker. Inglewood should have scored five minutes later when Makeche latched on to a long ball which he played into the path of Grant whose vicious shot was pushed over the top by Phil Straker. The final moment of note for the half was an Andy Brown ball in from the right which slid harmlessly across the face of goal four minutes from the break.
The start of the second half saw Oliver Taseski brought into the action for the first time, the Inglewood custodian making a couple of superb saves to keep the score level. Phil Straker’s poor goal kick in the 55 minute had disastrous consequences for the hosts as Makeche intercepted then accelerated into space before bending a brilliant shot over the approaching ‘keeper to break the deadlock. Seven minutes later Makeche surged down the right before centring for Grant to tick in the visitors’ second goal. The final hour half was played with little sense of urgency from either team.
ROBINSON BRACE SEALS AWAY DAY GLORY FOR ARMADALE (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
Armadale produced a fantastic defensive display to take home three deserved points by outscoring Floreat Athena 3-1 on a poor surface at Litis Stadium. Tom Robinson was the hero with a goal in each half, however, praise should also be attributed to the Reds back four who held the home side at bay. The win banishes the demons of Armadale’s opening day home loss, whereas Floreat find themselves without a point from two league outings despite lifting the Night Series trophy just two weeks ago.
The poor state of the pitch robbed Armadale of the lead after 8 minutes when Anthony Taylor’s cutback found Ross Diamond who lost his footing and placed narrowly wide deep inside the 18-yard box. A period of frustration followed for the hosts, beginning with a Miki Vujacic free kick that hit the crossbar with Liam Boland putting the follow-up into the post. The set pieces from Vujacic were proving to be a dangerous outlet, and a quickly worked variation once again cannoned off the top of the bar and away to safety.
Floreat had now settled and were looking the more dangerous side. From another corner Paul Van Dongen though he’d sent the ball over the line but referee Paul Anderson saw it differently. Moments later Boland latched onto a deep cross from Max Elliott but once again his header struck the frame of the goal. Those misses were compounded in the 42nd minute when Armadale broke down the left and Tom Kennedy’s beautifully weighted pass allowed Robinson to round his marker before stroking under the onrushing Alex Dunn.
Armadale doubled their lead moments after the break when Kennedy’s corner was headed toward goal by Steve McDonald with Robinson getting the final touch to score his second of the game. Another Vujacic free kick grazed the top of the bar before Boland tested Cyril Sharrock from the top of the 18-yard box as Floreat attempted to reel in the deficit. Armadale were dangerous on the break and could have gone three-nil up but Young somehow put a free header over the bar from close range.
In the 69th minute Floreat finally got their reward, Vujacic floated a seemingly harmless free kick into the area where Sharrock completely misread the flight of the ball, which slipped through his gloves and dropped into an empty net. However, any hopes of a comeback were erased four minutes later when Kennedy beat the ‘keeper to a long ball and squaring which he squared for Taylor to score from a few metres. That proved to be the last action of the match as Armadale defended staunchly to open their account for the new season.
KNIGHTS LEAVE IT LATE TO OVERCOME NTC (with James Wragg, Football West)
Paul Cooke scored twice and Glen Thomas as Western Knights came from behind to triumph 3-1 over the National Training Centre in an enterprising contest at Nash Field. However, the Knights paid a heavy toll with Branimir Mikulic, Callum Roberts and Ryan Shackleton exiting the game through injury before half time of a game where no points were on offer. The NTC didn’t look out of place in their first Premier League outing with plenty of endeavour shown by the youth team.
Poor defending by the home team allowed Reece Vittiglia to run the ball inside the 18-yard box before goalkeeper Thomas Dixon smothered at his feet after 11 minutes. The Knights were forced into early substitutions with Roberts limped off with an ankle injury after 20 minutes, and Shackleton following eleven minutes later after he couldn’t shake off an earlier knock. Despite the personnel changes Mikulic was ever so close to opening the scoring when his header from Thomas’ corner hit the inside of the upright and rebounded straight into the arms of Tim Doyle.
Play was quickly spirited to the opposite end with Steve Walmsley’s excellent pass released Vittiglia through on goal only to be muscled off the ball by Duncan Hind, leading referee Michael Tolmie to point straight to the spot. Vittiglia picked himself up but his spot kick was blocked by Dixon, who also kept out Sebit Oyet’s follow-up. The Knights injury woes continued just before half time when Mikulic hobbled from the field and was replaced by Phil Gorecki.
The NTC came out firing for the second half and were unlucky on several occasions, in one passage of play alone Josh Risdon, Walmsley and Ivan Skorich all had chances to find the back of the net. Vittiglia showed them how it’s done on 54 minutes by tucking away a delightful ball through the middle to give the youth side the lead. The Knights slowly but surely took control across the middle of the park and on 67 minutes Simon Versacio finished a fantastic run by slotting the ball in for Paul Cooke to equalise.
Entering the final ten minutes it was the Knights who showed a greater desire for the winning goal. It arrived with 82 minutes gone through a corner delivered to the near post where Cooke nodded into the net and being allowed to ghost in the area unchecked. The referee pointed to the spot again in the 89 minute, this time for Daniel Dols foul on Versaico, with Thomas making no mistake in putting away the home teams’ third goal.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
Round Two of the Premier League season takes place on Saturday with the highlight being the traditional derby between Bayswater City and Perth SC at Frank Drago Reserve (3.00pm). Gianni Papalia played the starring role in Bayswater upsetting Armadale 2-0 last week, a result captain Damien Catalano could not have been happier about. "It was great to get a win first up. Armadale were unlucky at times but Gianni kept us in the game with some stunning saves," Catalano said. "Saturday is a massive test for us, Perth are the best side in the league but we're looking forward to the challenge."
Perth will be looking to bounce straight back from their shock opening round loss to Mandurah City. "It wasn't the start that we wanted. Mandurah came out, played well and restricted us so credit to them," said goalkeeper Devon Spence. "It's a huge game for us on Saturday. Bayswater will be confident after the win and will be up for it with something to prove. So we just have to forget about last week and focus on this weekend, play our game and get the three points that we need."
ECU Joondalup and Balcatta come up against each other at the Edith Cowan University campus (3.00pm). John Thornley grabbed Joondalup a late winner last time out and he'll no doubt be wanting to again find the net. Jonathan Stynes and Jon Higgins have key roles to play in the middle, likewise goalkeeper Andy Banks who was outstanding at Inglewood. Balcatta were well served by Adam Tong and young goalkeeper Lewis Italiano when they defeated Stirling Lions seven days ago but to come away with the points from Joondalup they'll need Ashley Rosindale and Jason Barrera to be in peak goal scoring form.
Mandurah City go searching for back-to-back win when they welcome Inglewood United to the Hyundai Stadium (3.00pm). Mike Brazil's side pulled off a big upset last week, beating Perth through goals by Andy Brown and Lucas Whitehouse, and new signings Tom Jones and Matthew Stares will need to be at their best for that run to continue. Inglewood have never won a league game at Mandurah and coach Shane Pryce is planning to change that on Saturday. James Sammut was outstanding in midfield last time out with other eyecatching performances from Ryan Clarke and David McNally.
Stirling Lions have home ground advantage against Cockburn City, who are looking to end a five year winless run at Macedonia Park (3.00pm). Paul Dugdale (suspended) is out for the home team but Paul Lincoln is hopeful of having new signings Garreth O'Connor and Anthony Skorich available with Jamie De Abreu pushing for a starting role against his former club. Cockburn will fancy their chances with Adrian Webster and Marc Anthony pulling the midfield strings, however, they'll miss the attacking drive of Anthony Pereira (suspended).
Floreat Athena and Armadale each lost last weekend so will be out to open their season accounts when they meet at Litis Stadium (3.00pm). With Paul Van Dongen and Garin Collins in good form and Liam Boland scoring freely it's Floreat that head into the afternoon as favourites. Reds custodian Cyril Sharrock will be vital to his teams hopes along with Matt Bennion and Tom Kennedy as they attempt to make amends for last weekend's performance against Bayswater, which was more miss than hit.
The final game of the round has the National Training Centre up against Western Knights at Nash Field (3.00pm). The Knights took all three points away from Sorrento last week with David Annall and Stuart Ferguson rock solid in defence and Stuart Montgomery finding the target at the opposite end. Unfortunately footballwa.net us unable to tell you anything about the NTC as, despite numerous phone calls and emails to Football West, we are yet to receive any information on the squad for our preview.
MANDURAH ARE BUZZING SAYS STRAKER
Mandurah City showed they’ll be no pushover this season by defeating back-to-back State League champions Perth SC last weekend. Goalkeeper Phil Straker says the win was the perfect way to erase the memory of a flat pre-season and develop some confidence going into the home and away series. “We aimed to get some points on the board early and to beat Perth at their home - where we have never won before - was a massive result,” he said. “Perth looked as strong as ever, especially in the later part of the game, but we stuck to our game plan and ground out a result.”
The recent resignation of coach Stuart Young threw everyone at Mandurah, however, normal business has resumed with Mike Brazil stepping into the breech. “Mike has been around the club for a while now, recently as Stu’s right hand man so it was only right that he was given the job,” commented Straker. “He has a very good knowledge of the game and there’s been little disruption as Mike has had a lot of input in the sessions since pre-season. There seems to be a buzz around the place at the moment and credit has to go to Mike for keeping things moving forward.”
The off-season saw a fair bit of player movement at Mandurah which Straker believes puts the club in a better place today than six months ago. “This season we are stronger as a team and that showed on Saturday night against Perth,” said the goalkeeper. “Last season was very up and down and it was hard for most of the year to get any rhythm going. But we’re now working a lot better as a team and have a new found confidence. We have learnt what let us down last year and are working hard to put that right. With two teams going down this season we have no intention of holding the ladder up again.”
Amongst the clubs new faces are Matt Stares, Lucas Whitehouse and Tommy Jones, who each featured against Perth, but it’s someone that Straker knows somewhat better that he feels will have the biggest impact on the team. “I’m slightly biased but for me it’s my brother Tom, he brings to the team the bite that we have lacked for a while now,” said Straker, who played alongside his brother at Sorrento in 2004. “Tom has slotted well into the back four and linked up well with the rest of the boys, I think he will be an important signing for Mandurah as the season progresses.”
The hot weather this weekend presents all teams a very difficult challenge with Saturday’s Premier League game backup by a Cup tie on Monday. “The heat definitely had a big impact on games,” commented Straker, who is glad he doesn’t have to do too much running on game day. “The pace of the game naturally slows down in the heat and playing two games in three days is going to be extremely hard on the bodies. But the fitness levels of the Mandurah lads are good and I know we can pull through okay.”
Mandurah’s weekend begins with a home fixture against Inglewood United before meeting ECU Joondalup two days later, again at Hyundai Stadium. “Inglewood have a strong squad, I don’t expect them to make it easy for us. Joondalup did very well in the Night Series and their squad is in top form,” said Straker, who is confident Mandurah can come out on top of both opponents. “If play how we did against Perth and stick the game plan Mike has for us then there’s no reason why we can’t get a win from both games.”
SAINSBURY IN THE MIX
Young defender Trent Sainsbury is poised to play in the biggest game of his career as Central Coast Mariners battle attempt to make their third Grand Final in six seasons. With regular right-back Pedj Bojic suspended, coach Graham Arnold is considering starting Sainsbury against Gold Coast United in Saturday's Preliminary Final. "Trent has done a good job when he's been in the side this year," Arnold said. "He's well and truly in the mix for a start." Sainsbury has been used on eight occasions by Arnold this season and has delivered some assured performances, despite his lack of experience at the top level.
MITCHELL SACKED AFTER DAMNING REVIEW
David Mitchell has been sacked as Perth Glory's director of football after an independent review identified the recruitment of players as one of the club's major failings. Mitchell, who is considering legal action because he had an agreement to remain with the club for another season, has been in charge of signing players since taking on the head coaching position in November 2007. He opted to take on the director of football position in October last year when his assistant, Ian Ferguson, moved up to the main role.
The review, conducted by David Hatt with input from Ric Charlesworth, was scathing in its criticism of player recruitment. "There is no doubt that recruitment over the past two years has been largely unsuccessful," Hatt found. "More needs to be done in the recruitment area to guard against the presence of players who simply seek a superannuated end to their careers. There is nothing more important than good recruiting outcomes for the Perth Glory in its present state."
The finger was clearly pointed at Glory's ageing squad - which included Robbie Fowler (35), Branko Jelic (33), club captain Jacob Burns (32), Chris Coyne (32), Victor Sikora (32), Mile Sterjovski (31), Steven McGarry (31) - for finished second to last this season after taking fifth in 2009/10. Hatt's report also identified the need to focus on youth as a priority, although Ferguson has already signed Travis Dodd (31) and Dean Heffernan (30) who are both much closer to the end of their careers than the start. Fowler is also in talks to play for the club again next season.
FIRST UP WIN “HUGELY IMPORTANT”: MCSTEA
Midfielder Anthony McStea is delighted Bayswater City has on the board their first points of the new season. Bayswater ground out a 2-0 win over Armadale in last weekend’s opening round of the Premier League, a result McStea says provided some relief following a difficult pre-season. “It was a hugely important win for us,” he said. “We came into the new year with all the confidence of a newly promoted team and then got a couple of stern lessons in the Night Series which knocked the stuffing out of us a bit. So to win the first game back in the Premier League was a big confidence boost.”
Bayswater may have ridden their luck at Armadale but they certainly made the most of limited opportunities with McStea and Cisco Jorquiera scoring either side of half-time. “Armadale dominated most of the first half and I honestly thought we were going to suffer a heavy defeat. Then we got a quick break away when I scored the first,” said the midfielder. “The second half was a different story. We had the better of the ball and played some decent football on a difficult surface. The most pleasing aspect of the game for us was the character shown in digging out the result.”
The off-season departure of star striker Kailo Karpeh and defensive lynchpin Okwy Diamondstar has left Bayswater looking a little coming winter. “Most people at the club would agree that the squad is slightly weaker as we stand now from the side that clinched promotion,” stated McStea. “But a lot of that has to do timing of injuries and availability. Take the fact that Kailo has left and Gustavo (Muralanda) has been out for the entire pre-season - they were two of the three highest scorers in the league last year and losses like that would have an impact on any team.”
Balancing the outs are a number of promising recruits, including Gavin Knight, David Sesay and Sam Loveless, and with a few more players to come into the squad McStea is confident in Bayswater’s abilities. “We still have the same philosophy of one and two touch football with patience that we had during last season and that is drilled into us by (coach) Mauro Marchione,” he said. “Over the next three or four weeks our general squad strength will return as players come back from injury and also a few new additions arrive.”
As one of few Bayswater’s with prior Premier League experience, McStea says the squad learned a few lessons the hard way with pre-season losses to ECU Joondalup and Stirling Lions. “Two of the big lessons we learned is that we have to take our chances when they come along, and also that one mistake at the other end can kill you off,” he said. “Against Stirling Lions there were spells where our general play was quite good, but we never looked like really penetrating them whereas whenever the ball broke they looked like they were going to score with every attack.”
McStea played a couple of seasons with Swan IC before joining Bayswater so is well placed to comment on the differences between Division One and the Premier League. “Fitness levels are much higher in the Premier League which tends to make the game a little more intense,” he said. “Most of the Premier League teams are pretty professionally organised too, playing to a solid and well-drilled structure. The other big difference is that any team can potentially beat any other in the Premier League, whereas in Division One there is generally three or four teams at the top who would rarely drop points against teams in the bottom half of the table.”
McStea is under no illusions as to the long and bumpy road Bayswater will travel if they are to remain in the top flight beyond 2011. “It’s going to be difficult for us but everyone at the clubs already knows that,” he commented. “Our goal is to finish tenth - simple as that. If we can do that then we have achieved something. I am quite confident that we will surprise quite a few people over the season not only with results this season but also with the style of football we play.”
Bayswater return to Frank Drago Reserve on Saturday when they host Perth SC in a traditional derby. “Perth are still the benchmark for all teams in WA and any game against them is difficult. This will be a great test for us to see where we are at,” said McStea. “I’d imagine they are disappointed with losing to Mandurah City in their first game and will be looking to get points on the board quickly. But if we play to our strengths and play the ball around on our park we can beat any team.”
KAY LOOKING FORWARD TO DERBY DAY
Perth SC defender Trent Kay can't wait for this weekend's blockbuster derby with Bayswater City. Saturday's game provides Kay and his team mates an opportunity to kick-start their season and get one over the traditional rivals. "Everyone loves to play in a derby, the rivalry between the two clubs is massive and we can't wait to get out there." Kay said. "Dropping any points to Bayswater would be disappointing as we risk dropping a few points behind the early pace setters. Our task will be made even harder given Bayswater's impressive result last weekend, I'm sure both teams will be up for the battle."
Kay, who turned 23, last week, expressed his disappointment with Perth not making more of their chances in last weekend's 2-1 home loss to Mandurah City. "It was a massive disappointment for all of us. You always want to win the first game of the season and start collecting points from game one but that wasn't to be," Kay said. "Credit to Mandurah, they obviously came to Dorrien Gardens with a game plan and executed it well. We probably had the better of the chances in the first half and could have perhaps finished the game then, but we didn't and we inevitably paid the price."
The Mandurah game was Perth's third in seven days, following the Night Series minor place play-off against Cockburn City and the mid-week Charity Shield clash with Stirling Lions. Kay could be excused for pointing to that busy schedule as reason for losing to Mandurah, however, he refuses to do so. "I'm not one to make excuses and neither are any of my teammates," he said. "I felt the energy levels against Mandurah weren't as high as they usually are and perhaps the heavy schedule with such warm weather contributed, but its all part of football. You still need to perform no matter what the circumstances, and we didn't."
With a number of players knocking on the door of a first team return Perth will be close to full strength as they attempt to win their fourth consecutive league game at Frank Drago Reserve. Kay feels his teams' hopes of claiming another victory will be enhanced should team mate Greg Sharland be kept out of the action. "I'd just like to say that our chances against Bayswater will be greatly improved if 'Kramer' Sharland remains sidelined for the entire 90 minutes, as his banter off the pitch is much better than his clumsiness on it, but only just," joked Kay. The Bayswater-Perth derby gets underway from 3.00pm on Saturday at Frank Drago Reserve.
HERD MAKES VILLA STARTING DEBUT
Promising youngster Chris Herd was handed his first Aston Villa start overnight as the Villains crashed out of the FA Cup with a 3-0 loss at Manchester City. Herd, 21, had made five substitute appearances this season prior to being promoted to the starting line-up as one of eight changes manager Gerard Houllier made to the side which defeated Blackburn on the weekend. Playing at full back, Herd was involved in a controversial incident in the second half when elbowed in the face by Mario Balotelli, who was duly booked.
JOONDALUP LURES BACK MCMURRAY
The arrival of former State striker Ian McMurray has strengthened ECU Joondalup’s hopes of collecting silverware this year. McMurray went straight into the squad which defeated Inglewood United in the opening round of the new Premier League season after rejoining the northern suburbs club last week following a couple of seasons at Perth SC. “Syd (Amphlett) has the team working hard for each other and with his passion rubbing off on the boys I’m looking forward to the season ahead,” commented McMurray.
McMurray, who played his first three seasons of State League football with Joondalup, says the club is in much better shape today compared to his previous stint. “The squad has more depth than few years back, that showed on Saturday when we had Dale McCulloch, Charlie Comyn-Platt, Matt Italiano and myself on the bench,” McMurray said. “Also the younger players have had more match time and have gained more experience playing in the Premier League which has help them progress to the level they are at now.”
Joondalup’s Night Series performances point towards a big year for the club. “They knocked out last years’ Grand Finalists, Western Knights and Perth, along the way to making the final where they were unlucky to lose to Floreat Athena,” said McMurray. “With players like Charlie Comyn-Platt, Chris Wylie, Jon Higgins and John Thornley the core was already there, and with the excellent additions and the quality young kids coming through things are really looking good.”
McMurray realised his time with Perth was at an end following discussions with new coach Ronnie Campbell. “I was not in his plans and was not going to be offered a new contract,” stated the striker. “After thinking about things and chatted with a few clubs I decided on playing for Joondalup. I know a few of the players and coaches from my time there before and know how much they want to be challenging for trophies come finals time. After speaking with Syd and hearing his passion and drive for winning, my decision was made.”
In his two seasons with Perth McMurray accumulated plenty of happy memories. “The highlights have to be winning the 2010 Night Series and scoring the winning goal, winning the Grand Finals in 2009 and 2010 and scoring in both, and being lucky enough to receive the Gary Marrochi Medal for 2010 Grand Final,” he said. “I was glad to be given the chance to play for Perth and winning some trophies along the way was a bonus. The players are a great bunch of lads and I wish them all the best for the season.....except when it’s against Joondalup!”
DODD SIGNS FOR GLORY
Perth Glory have confirmed the A-League’s worst kept secret - that Adelaide United captain Travis Dodd will take up a two-year deal with the club from next season. Dodd is the biggest signing yet in an expected major shake-up at Glory in the off-season, with some of the A-League's best talent linked to a move across the Nullarbor. Goalkeepers Danny Vukovic and Neil Young along with defenders Evan Berger and Dean Heffernan have all signed for Glory and several other big names are expected to follow in the coming weeks.
Dodd, 30, has been has been a mainstay at Adelaide United over the six A-League seasons, making 176 league and cup appearances and captaining the club through the last four campaigns. A former Socceroo, Dodd is excited about opening a new chapter in his football career. “I’m really proud to be joining Perth Glory and I thank the chairman and the coach for the opportunity,” Dodd said. “The revival at Perth Glory has begun and I can’t wait to head west and begin pre-season training with my new club.”
Dodd, who played 164 games for Adelaide City, Newcastle Breakers, Newcastle Jets and Parramatta Power in the National Soccer League, found it difficult to leave Adelaide. “It has been a time I will never forget … I’ve been fortunate enough to have been part of some historic achievements at the club and to have played with some great players,” he said. “Adelaide United will always hold a special place with me wherever I go and without this club I definitely wouldn’t be the person and player that I am today.”
Glory boss Ian Ferguson said Dodd’s versatility provides his team with a few new options. “Travis is a player I have admired for a long time,” Ferguson said. “He’s a versatile player who provides us with several different options as he can play up front or wide on the left and right (of midfield). Travis is also very good at retaining the ball, an experienced campaigner and a leader.” Dodd becomes the 17th player confirmed for Glory 2011/10 campaign.
YOUNG PUTS FAMILY FIRST IN GLORY DEAL
The lure of home will bring goalkeeper Neil Young back to Perth next season. Young, who kept goal for Sorrento before moving into the nation league arena, knocked back a third season with Newcastle Jets to take up a two-year deal with hometown club Perth Glory. "It is definitely another challenge," said Young, who will vie with Danny Vukovic for the gloves. "Perth's my home and I've never hidden from the fact that I wanted to play for Perth Glory, so it's great to be given the chance."
Young admits he would have stayed on with Newcastle had they been able to match Glory's offer. "Financially the Jets offer wasn't as good as Perth. I would have taken less money to stay in Newcastle if it was for two years, but they weren't able to do that," Young explained. "I have to look after my family's future. Perth have given me two years, which is my future, and will also help me with life after football by putting me through (goalkeeper) coaches courses."
A broken nose suffered against Gold Coast United in January last year threatened not only Young's career but also his life. Medication used to help ease the pain of the injury caused a bowel infection and within days he was rushed back to hospital. "They said I was as close to dying as possible without actually dying. My body stopped producing white blood cells and I had all sorts of tubes hanging out of me," said Young, who underwent six operations and spent six weeks in intensive care.
When he was finally discharged from hospital Young had shed 22kg and struggled to walk. "I didn't think I would play again," he said. "I was scared to dive because basically they've reconstructed my intestines. It was hard to get used to and it's a bit strange with the feeling in your stomach. But it doesn't hold me back at all now. There are a few side effects I have to deal with but I can play."
Young confirmed a remarkable comeback by playing the final five games of last season with Newcastle's youth team. "All I said was I want to play again and prove to people that you can come back from such adversity," said the 'keeper, who isn't prepared to play second fiddle to Vukovic in 2011/12. "I want to play football and I don't want to be sitting on the bench all season so I'll be pushing Danny as hard as I can. I'd like to earn a spot in the team."
DJULBIC HAS GOLD COAST ON TRACK FOR GRAND FINAL
Gold Coast United plan on keeping their finals run going and qualify for their first ever A-League Grand Final according to big defender Dino Djulbic. Since finishing the regular season in fourth spot, Gold Coast have worked their way past Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United to be on the cusp of a place in the season finale. Djulbic has been a key figure in his club's late season revival and says there's plenty more left in the tank as they prepare for this weekend's visit to Central Coast Mariners.
Djulbic, who got his senior career underway with Perth SC, said the character and resilience his team displayed in overturning a 2-1 deficit to see off Adelaide is proof they could go all the way. "I've never before played in the finals - anywhere I've played - and the feeling personally is amazing and I know it's the same for all the boys," said Djulbic, who was unlucky not to score for the second week running when his thundering header struck the post at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Gold Coast will lose several players at the conclusion of the finals series but before that happens Djublic says they are focused on taking the club to the A-League's summit. "I know people are saying he's leaving and this guys leaving but we're here and contracted until the 31st of March and no one wants to leave and that's the best thing," commented Djulbic, who is poised to join Chinese club Shaanxi Zhongjian Chanba. "I've never been in a team like this and it really is like a family."
Every family needs a leader and Djulbic, who was vocal in rallying his teammates after they went 2-1 down to Adelaide, wants to be one of them. "There's always someone who has to put their hand up and me as a leader I always try to do it," he said. "The boys had their heads down but you have to pick them up. Football is a 90 minute game and we came back and proved that. It worked, everyone stuck together but it's not over yet." Gold Coast take on Central Coast at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday with the winner earning the right to play Brisbane Roar in the 2010/11 A-League Grand Final.
AXES FALLS ON NORTH QUEENSLAND
North Queensland Fury have been cut from the A-League after just two seasons. Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley said the club failed to meet a financial obligation which would have made them viable for next season. "Despite the hard work put in, the target of $1.5 million of capital from the Retain the Fury campaign was not met, with less than $300,000 being pledged," Buckley said. "With the capital-raising falling well short of the target, FFA has had to make the hard decision that it cannot continue to own and finance the club in these circumstances."
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This page was last updated on the 3rd March, 2011