SOCCEROOS COME FROM BEHIND TO DEFEAT SAUDI ARABIA
Alex Brosque scored twice in a stunning second half barrage as Australia ended Saudi Arabia's World Cup qualifying campaign tonight with a 4-2 win at AAMI Park in Melbourne. Australia looked in danger of suffering their first loss on home soil in three years when they trailed 2-1 with less than 20 minutes to go. But the game turned dramatically as the home side piled on three goals in as many minutes to ensure they will carry plenty of confidence and momentum into the final stage of qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
A sluggish start by the Socceroos saw them go a goal down on 19 minutes to Salem Mohammed Aldawsari's long-range strike. Although stung into action, Australia squandered a string of chances with Mark Bresciano, Harry Kewell and Brosque asking questions of goalkeeper Abdullah Ali. A clever pass from Bresciano eventually broke the Saudi resistance on 43 minutes with Brosque finishing well to equalise. But poor defending two minutes into stoppage time allowed an unmarked Nasser Al Shamrani to restore the Saudi's.
The Socceroos emerged for the second period full of fight with Lucas Neill netting but was denied his first international goal by offside. On 73 minutes Brosque cut the ball back for Kewell to lash into the net first time. Two minutes later Brosque combined superbly with Brett Emerton, whose delightfully chipped cross from the left allowed the striker to head past the Saudi 'keeper. Within a minute of the re-start Australia had scored, albeit with a liberal dose of luck as Kamil Al Mousa's attempted clearance ricocheted off Emerton and into the net.
FERGUSON HOPEFUL GOLD COAST WILL PLAY ON
Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson would rather face Gold Coast United on the field than be gifted the three points as a result of their demise. Ferguson today expressed his sympathy to the players and staff of Gold Coast United, who are facing an uncertain future after the club's A-League licence was revoked, and hoped Glory would still play the Queensland outfit in mid-March. "There are four games to go and it means, if they do dismantle (the club immediately), then I believe we automatically get the points," Ferguson said. "The six teams below have already played and won and lost points and it wouldn't be right for us just to go and get three points ... I think the game's got to be played."
Football Federation Australia took the move to revoke Gold Coasts' license after owner Clive Palmer's deliberate contravention of FFA policies, defiance of the peak body's direction and repeated public statements that brought the game into disrepute. "It's a sad day for the A-League," Ferguson said. "It's very difficult. The players don't know where they are going, they've got to go and try and secure contracts elsewhere and so on. Even the coaching staff now as well, they've got to go and look for new clubs. It's a shame, it hurts a lot of people. Even the fans up there now will be feeling it a little bit as well."
Ferguson, whose coaching stint at North Queensland Fury was ended two years ago when the club was taken over by FFA due to financial uncertainty, called on the governing body to be more meticulous in their ownership research. "(FFA) should maybe do a wee bit more due diligence (on owners)... because when a team comes in you want them to be successful and you want them to survive," he said. "They need to review obviously what they are doing to let people in the league and how they are picking them to come into the league." The FFA are determined for Gold Coast to play out the remaining four rounds of the season and have offered to pay players wages over that period.
NEWCASTLE HAVE THEIR EYE ON TAGGART
Newcastle Jets are poised to sign one of the hottest young strikers in the country, Perth Glory teenager Adam Taggart. 18-year old Taggart sits behind veterans Shane Smeltz and Billy Mehmet in the peaking order at Glory and a desire for regular first team football could lead the Australian youth international to seek greener pastures. The 'Newcastle Herald' has reported a deal is almost done with Taggart's manager, Zjelko Susa, confirmed they are one of several clubs under consideration. "'We have had talks with Newcastle and other clubs including Perth Glory, but nothing is official yet,'' Susa said. Taggart joined Glory in 2010 but has managed just 10 appearances for the side, with four of those coming this season.
GRIFFITHS OFF TO CHINA
Central Coast Mariners midfielder Rostyn Griffiths is close to signing with Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande. Griffiths, 23, left for China yesterday and should he pass a medical will sign a two-year contract with the back-to-back Super League champions which will net Central Coast a transfer fee in the vicinity of $800,000. Griffiths played first team at ECU Joondalup as a 15-year old before signing trainee papers with Blackburn Rovers in mid-2006. After two and a half years in abroad, which took in loans to Gretna (Scotland) and Accrington Stanley (England), he returned to Australia where he's over the past three season he has been a regular fixture of the midfield for North Queensland Fury and Central Coast.
CLYDE BRINGS IN FEELY
Celtic youth goalkeeper Nick Feely has joined Scottish Third Division side Clyde on an emergency loan deal. Clyde manager Jim Duffy brought Feely, who played locally for Cockburn City, late last week on a 28-day loan after regular 'keepers David Crawford and Barry McCue succumbed to injury. Feely, 19, made his Clyde debut in Saturday's away loss at Alloa Athletic and backed up that performance in Tuesday's draw at Elgin City. An Australian youth international, Feely joined Celtic in 2010 and stood between the posts when in the 2011 Youth Cup Final defeat of Rangers at Hampden Park.
TRIAL FOR THE STATE SCHOOLS TEAMS
Preparations for the 2012 Schools National Championship will ramp up next month with the commencement of trials for the Schoolboys and Schoolgirls squads. Western Australia has a strong record at the annual tournament with both teams being amongst the medal winners in recent years and State team coaches Alf Debono (boys) and Wayne Baseden (girls) have plans to take their teams into the upper reaches of the table once again this year.
WA has a strong track record at the Schools tournament. The Schoolboys have collected four medals - two silver and two bronze - in the last nine years while in 2009 the Schoolgirls claimed silver for their highest finish. During that same period 24 West Australians have been selected to represent the nation at Schoolies level, amongst them Matilda's striker Lisa DeVanna and Perth Glory Women trio Carys Hawkins, Jaymee Gibbons and Sadie Lawrence.
Initial trials for this year's Schools teams, who will travel to Queensland in mid-August, start on 14 March at venues both north and south of the river. Players are encouraged to attend over the two-week trial period to maximise their chances of selection. Trials are open to all students attending high school and TAFE who are under the age of 20 as of 31 December 2012. Further information, including trial dates and venues, is available from School Sport WA, in the "Interstate Sports: Football Under-19s" section.
STERJOVSKI JUMPS SHIP
Attacking Glory midfielder Mile Sterjovski appears to have played his last game for Perth Glory. Sterjovski, whose three-year contract with Glory expires at the end of the season, flew to China today in the hope of sealing a move to Super League outfit Dalian Aerbin. Glory will agree to terminate the final two months of the former Socceroos' contract should he pass a medical and agree terms with Dalian. "Mile has received an offer which he couldn't refuse," stated Glory coach Ian Ferguson. "It's a blow to lose Mile at this stage of the season ... the contracts players are being offered in Asia is something we can't match at the moment."
It's understood Glory's reluctance to engage with Sterjovski on a new contract played a significant part in his decision to move on. Only last month he urged Glory to commence contract talks with a number of players whose current deals are soon to expire if the club are to continue to progress. Sterjovski played for Australia 43 times in a sparkling career that took in stints in France, Switzerland, Turkey and England. He joined Glory in mid-2009 and has made 58 A-League appearances for the club, scoring 15 goals along the way. His departure from the Glory camp comes at a bad time with the club fourth on the ladder and the A-League finals fast approaching.
NEVILLE MAKES POSITIVE RETURN
Defender Scott Neville has taken his first tentative steps towards a return to competitive action for Perth Glory. 23-year old Neville made his first appearance since damaging knee ligaments almost four months ago by completing the first half of Glory Youth's weekend game with Brisbane Roar. "I've still got a lot of work to do but I got through the 45 minutes pain free," Neville said. "The knee felt fine and I could've played more minutes but I was always scheduled to play just the first half. The Youth team have another game this weekend so I am looking forward to playing some more minutes to improve my match fitness."
CONTRACT FRUSTRATIONS GET THE BETTER OF MCGARRY
Soon to be out-of-contract midfielder Steven McGarry's sideline argument with coach Ian Ferguson has highlighted player frustrations at Perth Glory's delay in offering new deals. Ferguson revealed to the 'West Australian' that McGarry's reaction to being substituted during the weekend loss to Brisbane Roar may have been due partly to the uncertainty over his future. "It could be a part of it but we're all in the same boat and it's about how we handle things," commented Ferguson, whose own future will be determined by the team's performance in the last four games.
BUNBURY PUSH TOWARDS FINAL
Premier League newcomers Bunbury Forum Force took a giant step towards a Night Series Final appearance by sneaking a 2-1 win from Inglewood United in this evenings’ twilight fixture at 6PR Stadium. Martin Ryan took his goal tally to six from four games by firing Bunbury into an early second half lead with Jon Brooks doubling the margin soon after. Inglewood worked tirelessly to keep their tournament alive but it wasn’t to be despite Ryan Clark hitting the net late. “It was great performance from the lads, we were always confident we could do the job,” said jubilant coach Nigel Wilcox.
Inglewood started brightly with their first opening coming after 10 minutes when David Perich send clear Lee Carr who was thwarted by the quick-thinking of goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery. Play swung to the other end where Ryan’s goalbound shot was deflected wide after being found by found. Carr was again played through on goal, this time by a lovely through ball from James Sammut, but Montgomery was out bravely to deny the youngster. Clark twice placed narrowly wide, first after combining with Miki Vujacic and later with Perich, while just before the interval Sammut beat two defenders but his shot from the top of the 18-yard box flashed the wrong side of the upright.
Ryan gave the second half a crackerjack start by heading past ‘keeper Alex Sutton from 7-metres after being found unmarked at Ashley Young’s 49th minute throw-in. Bunbury consolidated their lead nine minutes later with Young again the provider, this time threading a pass to Brooks who finished into the net from 9-metres. Inglewood had Sutton to thank that the margin was not greater with the ‘keeper tipping Ryan’s long-range attempt around the post soon after. Inglewood fashioned several good chances as they sought for a way back in but Vujacic’s shot was brilliantly kept out of the top corner by Montgomery, who soon after saved a low strike from Brendan Craig.
The pressure valve was finally released in the 81st minute, Sammut playing down the right for Jason Colli whose centring ball was lashed into the net by Clark from close-in. With this the game burst back into life with both teams going hammer and tong in search of further goals. Vujacic’s long-range attempt was taken at full-stretch by Montgomery and moments later Sutton palmed away a shot by substitute Kieran Quinn. As they committed players forward Inglewood ran the risk of being caught on the counter attack and in stoppage time that is exactly what happened with Young sending away Quinn whose chip shot was touched over the crossbar by Sutton.
MARULANDA SENDS BAYSWATER THROUGH TO LAST FOUR (with Bianca Redding, Football West)
Bayswater City finished on top of a seesawing Night Series quarter-final with UWA-Nedlands 4-2 on a chilly evening at 6PR Stadium. UWA entered the break a goal the better courtesy of a Steve Purton double that came either side of Gustavo Marulanda’s first strike of the year. Parity was restored just after the hour by Ross Cosgrove with Joe Yoffe putting away Bayswater’s third goal before Marulanda delivered the knockout blow to end UWA’s giant killing run. Bayswater will meet Bunbury Forum Force on Saturday for a place in the 2012 Night Series Final.
Goalkeepers Tom Dixon and Kevin Towers were both called into action in a pulsating start to the game. A This set the tone for an attacking contest which was punctuated on 20 minutes by Purton’s brilliantly struck free-kick over the defence wall which found the net past a stunned ‘keeper. That lead lasted only nine minutes, however, with Marulanda drilling a dead ball beyond the reach of Tower. Purton restored his sides’ lead by converting from the penalty spot in the 35th minute after he’d been tripped inside the area. Marulanda was unlucky not to equalise soon after when his goalbound strike was desperately cleared off the line.
The thrills carried over in the second half with Roberto Lujan’s corner coming down off the underside of the crossbar and Rob Spencer struck the follow-up far too close to Dixon. There was no such wastefulness from Bayswater who returned fire with a 65th minute equaliser, Gustavo Catarcione beating his man to deliver a precision centre which Cosgrove stuck truly. Brad Skea and Purton persistently asked questions of the Bayswater backline but were met on each occasion by strong resistance from Dixon, who had no intention of picking the ball out of his net for a third time.
With twenty minutes to go Bayswater claimed the lead for the first time as Yoffe’s bouncing shot evaded Tower. UWA weren’t without their chances to level the game for a fourth time, their best coming after Yohannes Tadesse combined with Jack Mann to set-up Purton whose shot on the turn was tipped away by Dixon. Marulanda showed them how it’s done in the final minute of regulation time, the attacker skilfully touching the ball past his marker and then the advancing ‘keeper to coolly dribble the ball into the net for his second and Bayswater’s fourth goal.
Although pleased with the final result, Mauro Marchione was far from impressed with Bayswater’s first half performance. “We knew they were a strong team and we were prepared for that but for some reason we didn’t play our normal football and we were punished from two set-pieces to go two-one down,” he said. “This team has a big heart and we never give up, but we still show too much respect when important games come along. We can attribute that to the inexperience in our team - most of the players have never played at this level before.”
GLORY YOUTH’S TITLE HOPES VANISH
The National Youth League title hopes of Perth Glory came to a crashing halt with this morning’s 4-2 loss to Brisbane Roar at 6PR Stadium. Matthew Thurtell scored twice off the bench in the second half to wrap up the points after James Donachie’s earlier strike had cancelled out the games’ opening goal by Tommy Amphlett. George Lambadaridis also scored late for Brisbane before Ndumba Makeche bagged the hosts’ a consolation. The result puts Central Coast Mariners three points clear – and with a massive goal difference of +19 – at the top of the Y-League table leading into next weekend’s final round meeting with second-placed Glory.
The best opening of a free-flowing yet scoreless first half arrived on 35 minutes when Riley Woodcock’s attempt on goal was cleared off the line. Glory Youth went close twice early in the second period before Amphlett brilliantly finished a quick counter-attack by finding the target. But the visitors hit back just three minutes later when an unmarked Donachie headed in from a corner. Brisbane then took the upper hand and were rewarded with the lead as Thurtell scored twice in five minutes midway through the half. Poor marking allowed Lambadaridis to scored Brisbane’s fourth goal from a corner, while Makeche’s pulled one back on 88 minutes.
GLORY SLAPPED DOWN BY BRISBANE
Defending A-League champions Brisbane Roar romped their way to a 3-0 victory over Perth Glory at Perth Oval this evening. Besart Berisha and Henrique had the visitors in a comfortable position before some of the gloss was taken off their performance when the latter was shown a straight red for slapping Glory captain Jacob Burns on the face. “To lose 3-0 at home was very disappointing,” said Glory coach Ian Ferguson. “We feel as though we were second best all over the park at times.” The result consolidates second spot for Brisbane, narrowing the gap on leaders Central Coast Mariners to three points.
Brisbane looked the more purposeful in the opening exchanges, dominating possession and probing away with Henrique particularly threatening down the right. With 21 minutes gone Berisha cleverly threaded the ball between two defenders to Henrique, who rounded the helpless Danny Vukovic to net from a tight angle. Glory upped their game almost immediately, Travis Dodd weaving his way inside the 18-yard box only to lose his footing as he prepared to pull the trigger. Then in stoppage time Dean Heffernan pushed down the left and whipped in a dangerous cross which goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos managed to deflect away from Billy Mehmet.
Glory were quick to resume the attack after the break as Steven McGarry slipped the ball through to release Mile Sterjovski whose low strike was battered away by Theoklitos. Henrique spirited play straight down the other end, crossing Berisha who held off Bas Van Den Brink before swivelling to lash a close-range shot past Vukovic. The Shed was stunned into further silence in the 61st minute as Berisha tapped in from point-blank range after Vukovic charged off his line to defuse Nick Fitzgerald's run. Four minutes later Henrique received his marching orders for slapping Burns, but even with ten men Brisbane remained largely unruffled as Glory struggled to break down their opponents defence.
FERGUSON CAN’T HIDE HIS DISAPPOINTMENT
Perth Glory ‘let themselves down’ by allowing Brisbane Roar to dictate this evening’s A-League contest at Perth Oval according to coach Ian Ferguson. Brisbane were by far the better team on the park with Besart Berisha scoring twice along with Henrique, who was sent off with just under half an hour to play. “To let ourselves down tonight in the manner we did was disappointing. It was a good chance where we really could’ve pushed for finals and we’ve drawn ourselves back in it again,” said Ferguson. “They deserved to win without a doubt. They were so far on top of us at times in terms of possession and so on ... they were by far the best team.”
The loss effectively ends the top two ambitions of Glory, who are now seven points behind Brisbane with only four games remaining. Glory (34 points) sits in fourth spot, and although Wellington Phoenix are just two points ahead there’s increasing pressure from Newcastle United (31 points) in the race for a home final. “It’s all about character now and how we bounce back for the next game,” said Ferguson, whose team meets Adelaide United on Thursday. “I’m disappointed tonight and they (the players) are as well, they’re bitterly disappointed.” Ferguson said he felt Brisbane were the best team in the league, ahead of top side Central Coast Mariners.
FLOREAT BOW OUT TO ASHFIELD (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
Ashfield booked themselves a Night Series semi-final date by out-shooting Floreat Athena 5-4 from the penalty spot following a thrilling encounter at Dorrien Gardens. A first half rollercoaster ride commenced with Mladen Kovacevic netting early only to have Jarrad Smith net twice to swing the game in Floreat’s control. And although Darryl Warren restored parity Boland scored for a second time just before the break for a three-two lead. And it looked like staying that way when Ryan Frisina scored deep in stoppage time to send the game to penalty kicks, from which Ashfield emerged triumphant.
A bright start by Ashfield was rewarded on 9 minutes when Kovacevic slotted in o the end of a swift counter-attack. Smith was showing some good touches on the right and in the 18th minute he cut in to curl a lovely shot beyond the reach of goalkeeper Brad Eiffe. Two minutes later it was Floreat that were in front as Smith headed in superbly from Ludovic Boi’s in-swinging cross. But back came Ashfield and in the 25th minute Warren’s brilliantly-taken angled shot made it two-all. With half-time looming Boland converted a dubious penalty to enter the break with their noses in front.
The second stanza opened with chances for both teams to increase their tallies, Boland calling Eiffe into action with a shot from distance before Karl O’Reilly sliced just wide after working his way into a good position. Floreat could have sealed the win with five minutes to go but Jake Geddes effort was cleared off the line and an unmarked Boland headed wide. Those missed were punished in the third minutes of stoppage time when Frisina found a little bit of space in the area to life the ball over ‘keeper Johnstone Walker, sending the game to a shoot-out.
Floreat’s first spot kick by Smith was turned onto the crossbar by Eiffe, giving Ashfield the upper hand. The next eight penalties – four from each team – were all struck truly before Okwy Diamondstar stepped up to fire Ashfield to victory, triggering wild scenes of celebration from their supporters. The wins sets up a semi-final outing for Ashfield against Perth SC next weekend, whereas Floreat’s hopes of back-to-back Night Series titles remain in a crumpled heap.
PERTH SMASH KNIGHTS FOR SIX (with Andrew Ellis, Football West)
Perth SC issued a statement of intent with a commanding 6-0 win over Western Knights in this evening’s late game at Dorrien Gardens. A Stuart Ferguson own goal was followed by an Antonio Naglieri strike inside ten minutes to give Perth a dream start with David Onoforo netting twice more for a four-goal half-time lead. Andreas Oliveira and Daniel Niederberger added to that tally in a second half which both teams treated as little more than a training run. Perth will now meet giant-killers Ashfield in next weekend’s semi-finals while the Knights focus turns towards the season proper.
The scene was set early with Robert Sciascia getting in behind the defence to cross for Onoforo whose effort found the back of the net after deflecting off an unfortunate Stuart Ferguson. Perth soon resumed the attack and just two minutes later Naglieri sent a delightful free-kick over the defence wall and into the bottom corner of Frazer Siddall’s net. Johnny Mirco looked to have gained the Knights a way back into the game when he volleyed in from an Ivan Skorich cross after 18 minutes, however, the effort was disallowed by an offside flag.
The Knights woes deepen a minute later when Ivan Zuvela was forced out of the game after receiving a blow to the head while tangling with Josh Wilkins. Onoforo hit the bar as Perth went in search of a third goal while down the other end Stuart Montgomery’s in-swinging corner was cleared off the line. Perth got the goal they were after on 39 minutes, Sciascia slipping the ball to Onoforo whose measured shot from the top of the 18-yard box was too good for Siddall. Onoforo ended the game as a contest in the 45th minute by converting Sciascia’s ball to the far post to complete a perfect counter-attack.
Perth added to their lead seven minutes after the break, Oliveira twisting and turning on the edge of the box before curling a right-footed effort past substitute ‘keeper Nathan Cipriano. Seven minutes later Callum Roberts burst through the Blues defences and slipped the ball into Martino’s net only to have celebrations cut short by a dubious offside call. Niederberger had been on the park just minutes when he blasted in from an acute angle to take the difference to six goals with thirteen minutes to go. Both Niederberger and Onoforo had late chances to further gloss to Perth’s performance but wayward finishing meant the scorers wouldn’t be troubled.
NIGHT SERIES PREVIEW
The business end of the 2012 Night Series commences with this evening’s quarter-final showdown between Division One side Ashfield and trophy holders Floreat Athena (6.30pm) at Dorrien Gardens. “We’ll be treating this game like all of our pre-season games (and) we’ll be giving further opportunities to a few players that weren’t involved last week,” said Ashfield coach Matt Carruthers, whose team is fresh from inflicting a 4-1 loss on Balcatta. “We are still learning and preparing, however, the one thing we already know is that regardless of the stakes or whoever crosses the line, we want to win.”
The late game at Dorrien Gardens pits Perth SC against Western Knights (8.45pm). “We meet our arch rivals once again. Games with Perth are always very competitive and played with lots of passion and commitment and this one will be no different,” said Knights coach Carl Medica. “No doubt Gianfranco (Circati) will have his boys well-organised and fired up so it reads for another tantalising contest. We’ll need to keep things tight at the back and with the attacking players I have at my disposal we’ll cause them some problems as well.”
On Sunday evening at 6PR Stadium it’s Bayswater City verses third tier outfit UWA-Nedlands (5.00pm). “I know people say ‘it’s an easy game against a Division Two team’ but I think this is the hardest among the games we could play at this stage,” said Mauro Marchione, coach of Bayswater. “They are a well-organised side, solid at the back and in the middle and very dangerous up-front. I had all three Group A teams watched and all the reports back were about UWA and not the Premier League clubs, which tells you something.”
Host club Inglewood United takes on Premier League newcomer Bunbury Forum Force (7.15pm) in the late fixture. “It’s going to be a tough game as we’ve never seen them play so it will be interesting to see how they approach the game,” said Inglewood midfielder Dannie Richman. “If we stick to the game plan that (coach) Graham Normanton sends us out with then we’ll get the result. We have a few players with knocks at the moment but we’re all looking forward to the challenge.”
GLORY GO WITHOUT MILLER AND SMELTZ
Star duo Liam Miller and Shane Smeltz have been ruled out of Perth Glory’s crucial home game with Brisbane Roar on Saturday. Marquee striker Smeltz remains sidelined with the ankle complaint that forced him out of last weekend’s win over Newcastle Jets while Miller is still battling the hamstring injury which forced him off early in that game. Their absence is a significant blow for Ian Ferguson’s team given that victory at Perth Oval will take third-placed Glory within one point of the Brisbane.
Nonetheless, Ferguson is confident of beating Brisbane with Adam Hughes and Billy Mehmet expected to fill in for Miller and Smeltz. “Liam will miss and so will Smeltzy. Liam is probably another week behind and Smeltzy is still feeling it a bit,” he said. “Possibly if we were going into the finals we could throw them in there in the deep end but we don’t want to do that. Now we’re in this phase where we’ve got five games to go I want to make sure everyone is fit and ready for the challenge when it comes.”
BAYSWATER’S MARCHIONE PLAYS DOWN EARLY SUCCESSES
Mauro Marchione isn’t reading too much into his Bayswater City’s progression to the last eight of the Night Series. Bayswater claim top spot in Group B with last weekend’s cut-throat victory over Stirling Lions which came after wins over State League newcomer Subiaco AFC and Division One side Fremantle Spirit. “We’ve achieved nothing yet, we’ve just won a few pre-season games,” stated Marchione. “I was disappointed in our earlier games (against Subiaco and Fremantle), yes we won but we didn’t play that well. Still, it’s early in the season and our focus is on the first round of the league.”
Bayswater were pushed all the way by Stirling before Mundy Toure struck late to earn a 2-1 victory. “We knew it would be a hard game against the Lions but we managed to stop their best players, in particular Gareth McGlynn, Jamie De Abreu and Phil O’Callaghan who we knew could damage us,” commented Marchione. “We had to modify our system as we always do when we play teams that are stronger than us. Then when we are in possession we play our football with quick passes to try to exploit the opportunities that will come along … it worked and we are happy for that.”
The Bayswater coach is not surprised Irish import John Kearney, signed last June from Shamrock Rovers, has been the pick of his players in pre-season. “John is a great player and a very professional one,” commented Marchione. “Wherever I play him he always performs at the highest level.” Bayswater’s ranks for the new season have been bolstered by the arrival of several imports, amongst them Gustavo Catarcione (ex-Sao Paulo), Joe Yoffe (ex-Galway United), Paul McCarthy (ex-Waterford United) and former Hartlepool United pair Stephen Turnbull and and Jack Wilkinson.
Marchione expects the regular season title to be a two-horse race, albeit one plenty of twists and turns. “I consider Balcatta and Perth SC far above (the rest), both are very strong and managed by two great coaches so we need to improve greatly if we want to finish above them,” said Marchione. “Floreat Athena and Stirling Lions will be there too and don't forget Western Knights, Sorrento and Inglewood United, and if they get the Glory Youth players in their squad they will be the surprises this year.”
Bayswater have a few absences for Sunday’s quarter-final showdown with a UWA-Nedlands outfit that has already claimed the scalps of Sorrento and ECU Joondalup. “Larry Miller limped off last week and is not playing and our two newest signings, Jack Wilkinson and Stephen Turnbull, are not ready yet. This gives the opportunity for youngsters like Mundy Toure, Milan Mirkovic and a few others to display their qualities,” said Marchione. “I have a lot of respect for them (UWA) and I will play my best team possible, but it will be very hard.”
MEDICA SEES ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Western Knights coach Carl Medica will be looking for an improved performance from his team when they face long-time foe Perth SC in the Night Series semi-finals. Medica’s team survival a late revival by Swan United to finish top of their qualifying group last weekend but any such complacency on Friday night could prove fateful. “It was good to get the win (against Swan) and progress to the next stage, but I wasn’t happy with the performance,” commented Medica. “There was probably only a 20 minute patch where we scored three goals and played well. Apart from that we were pretty ordinary.”
Although he’s brought defence-minded pair Ivan Zuvela and Calum O’Connell to the club for the new season, Medica feels he is still a few players short of challenging for top honours. “The nucleus of the squad is there, and Callum and Ivan are two very technically gifted players who will add class to the squad. But to be honest we probably need to bolster the team in a few other areas in order to be able to compete with the likes of Perth and Balcatta, and were working on that,” commented Medica, who won two league titles with the Knights as a player.
Another player to have made his mark early for the Knights this year is attacker Callum Roberts, who missed the bulk of 2011 through injury. “We didn’t see the best of Callum last season due to numerous injuries, so hopefully he stays injury-free which and he can express to the rest of the league what a precocious talent he is,” Medica said of the 21-year old former Fremantle Spirit player. “Callum has youth on his side, is blessed with speed and on top of all that he’s a good lad who works hard for the team.”
The Knights future looked bleak late last year with Football West ruling their home ground of Nash Field unsuitable for Premier League football. Their top flight status has since been secured by a ground share arrangement with East Fremantle Tricolore. “The Knights deserve to be in the Premier League. We are a big club, with a proud heritage and lots of passionate supporters and, quite frankly, our record over the last 15 years or so speaks for itself,” said Medica. “The Knights committee has put in a great deal of work to get the ground share arrangement sorted, so this could be the start of a new beginning for the club.”
ASHFIELD FLY THE DIVISION ONE FLAG
Confidence is sky high in the Ashfield camp ahead of their Night Series quarter-final meeting with Floreat Athena on Friday. Matt Carruthers’ side dismissed top flight outfit Balcatta 4-1 to steal top spot from their qualifying group and the coach is looking forward to matching skills with the pre-season trophy holders. “It’s a big game for the club, it’s still the pre-season but we are in it to win it,” commented Carruthers. “We’re not getting carried away just yet, however, we do have high expectations for ourselves.”
Ashfield emerged as Division One’s sole survivor in the pre-season tournament with last weekend’s upset win over Balcatta, whose early lead was erased by a Ryan Frisina double and singles to Darryl Warren and Karl O’Reilly. “The win against Balcatta was a great result for the Ashfield club,” said Carruthers. “I was very pleased for the boys, getting that win was a reward for all the hard work they have been putting in. The most pleasing thing for me as coach was that we worked well as a unit.”
Carruthers has strengthened his squad with some astute off-season signings, amongst them Frisina and Okwy Diamondstar. “Having been in this league for over a decade as a player and now coach, I believe depth and experience is the key,” explained Carruthers. “Ryan is exactly what we missed last year and has done exactly what we have asked since he arrived, you wouldn’t know he has only been with us for two months. And Okwy will provide us a bit more experience and he’s already added to the clubs’ professionalism.”
THE OLYROOS DREAM IS OVER
Australia will miss the Olympic football tournament for the first time since 1984 after flopping to a 1-0 loss to United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi. Needing to win to stay in the hunt for the play-offs involving the three second-placed teams in the Asian qualifying groups, the Olyroos lacked the cutting edge required in the final third to be held scoreless for the five time in as many games. The loss left Australia bottom of its four-team group, trailing Uzbekistan by five points with one game to play, that against Iraq on 14 March.
The Olyroos fashioned several good chances to take a first half lead with Aaron Mooy and Oliver Bozanic calling the goalkeeper into action while in the 40th minute Mate Dugandzic clipped the crossbar. The UAE stepped up the pace after the break before going ahead on 67 minutes though Omar Abdulrahman who struck underneath diving ‘keeper Matthew Ryan. From that point on the home side was content to protect their lead, launching only the occasional counter-attack. Mooy could have equalised with just over ten minutes to go but instead blazed high and wide as the Olyroos’ goal drought continued.
CLUB OWNERS NEED MORE RIGHTS: SAGE
Perth Glory's Tony Sage says club owners must have more say in how the A-League operates, but is wary of letting the "animals run the zoo". Sage agrees with maverick Gold Coast United owner Clive Palmer's calls for Football Federation Australia to grant more input from the businessmen who have thrown millions into their clubs. "It's about time all of the owners have a greater say in how the money is spent because, in the end, it's our money that's propping up the game," Sage said. "If I didn't do it, there'd be no Perth Glory; if Clive didn't do it, there'd be no Gold Coast team; and if Nathan (Tinkler) didn't do it, there'd be no Jets team."
Sage has pumped $27 million into Glory over the past four years and feels that level of commitment should buy him a bit more of a say in the games running. "We have no say. That, I believe, is the thrust in what Clive's saying," Sage said. "You've got a guy like Clive Palmer, Nathan Tinkler, Mr Bakrie, the guys from Adelaide, myself, who have got a wealth of business experience. We run successful businesses and there's no way that we can use those business skills at the moment to help … You're putting in a total of between $30-40 million into a game that you don't have a lot of say in. The FFA has taken that criticism and is now trying to rectify that."
The FFA is addressing the issue of club owners' rights but Palmer is not waiting, labelling the A-League a "joke" and calling for chief executive Ben Buckley to be replaced. Sage believes Palmer's aggressive approach is detrimental to soccer, especially while others who share his views have chosen to remain silent while the FFA consults clubs about the concerns raised by the Smith Report. "There's lots of positives," Sage said. "We've made the World Cup twice in a row, the A-League numbers are up, you've got Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton here and other Socceroos wanting to come back - it's a healthy competition," he said. Let's not dwell on the negatives."
PRO-FOOTBALL TRAINING PARTNERS WITH MANCHESTER UNITED
Pro Football Training have teamed up with Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen to bring the former’s Academy Coaches Clinic to Australia for the very first time. Mick Priest, who worked with the English Premier League giants between 1998 and 2004, will present the two-day course in late May based on Meulensteen’s philosophies and practices. “This course will give participants the opportunity to pass on the knowledge and philosophy of one of the worlds’ most sought after coaches,” said PFT coaching director Mark Lee. For more on the Meulensteen Academy Coaches Course at the WA Athletics Stadium in Mount Claremont visit profootballtraining.com.au or email email@example.com
HERD GETS 60 MINUTES UNDER HIS BELT
Aston Villa midfielder Chris Herd has started on the comeback trail after two-and-a-half months out of action with ankle ligament damage. Herd played an hour of Tuesday afternoon’s reserve team clash with West Bromwich Albion and came through with no apparent ill-effects. The 22-year old established himself as a first team regular earlier this season, forming an effective partnership alongside Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov and rewarded with a new three-and-a-half-year contract. However, an ankle injury suffered in December forced Herd onto the sidelines and also denied him a first cap for Australia after gaining selection for game with Oman and Thailand.
VUKOVIC WANTS GRAND FINAL GLORY
Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic says confidence is so high within the Perth Glory camp that they feel they are genuine A-League title contenders. Glory are hot on the heels of second-placed Brisbane Roar and can narrow the gap by taking all three points from this weekend’s game between the two sides at Perth Oval. Although coach Ian Ferguson says qualifying for the finals remains his focus, Vukovic talked up his team’s chances challenging Brisbane and runaway leaders Central Coast Mariners for top honours.
Glory have lost only once in ten games leading Vukovic to suggest just making the top six may not be enough for a squad eager for success. “We’re sitting third, we’re only four points off Brisbane so a good result on the weekend we’ll be sitting very pretty with four or five games to go,” The ‘keeper said. “I think we can win the league, win the league as in the Grand Final. I think the Mariners are just a little bit too far, but at the end of the day anything can happen.”
SOCCEROOS NAMES FOR SAUDI CLASH
Socceroos coach Holger Osieck has named his squad for this month’s World Cup Asian qualifier against Saudi Arabia. Coming back into the 19-player squad are a host of big names including captain Lucas Neill, Brett Emerton, Harry Kewell, Mark Bresciano, Mark Schwarzer and Archie Thompson. “This match is as important as any match we play to further build on what we have achieved so far,” said Osieck, whose team sit atop Group D with maximum points after five games. The Socceroos will assemble in Melbourne this weekend before their final qualifier with Saudi Arabia next Wednesday, 29 February, at AAMI Park.
The Australia squad to play Saudi Arabia is Mark Bresciano (Al Nasr Sports Club), Lucas Neill (Al-Jazira Club), Erik Paartalu (Brisbane Roar), David Carney (FK Bundyodkor Tashkent), Matt Ryan (Central Coast Mariners), Jade North (Consadole Sapporo), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Michael Thwaite (Gold Coast United), James Troisi (Kayserispor Kulubu), Michael Marrone (Melbourne Heart), Harry Kewell, Mark Milligan, Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory), Alex Brosque (Shimizu S-Pulse), Sasa Ognenovski (Seongham Ilwha Chunma), Nick Carle, Brett Emerton (Sydney FC), Matthew Spiranovic (Urawa Red Diamonds) and Adam Sarota (FC Utrecht).
WILLIAMS COMMITS TO MIDDLESBROUGH
Australia international Rhys Williams has spoken of his desire to help Middlesbrough back into the English Premier League after signing a new four-and-a-half year contract with the club. The talented 23-year old had attracted interest from a host of top flight clubs but, after penning the new deal, said he couldn't be happier on Teesside. "I've always said I wanted to stay," Williams said. "I'm happy here and that's the main thing. I'm settled and get on well with the manager and the lads. I've no reason to leave except for my dream of playing in the Premier League - and I want to get there with his club."
Williams, a junior with ECU Joondalup, joined Boro as a 16-year old scholar and progressed through the club's highly-acclaimed academy system. Comfortable playing anywhere across the back four as well as a holding midfielder, he won rave reviews by helping Burnley gain promotion from the Championship while on loan in 2009. Having represented Wales at youth level, Williams committed his senior international career to Australia, debuting in mid-2009 against Japan, but was forced to miss the following years’ World Cup with a pelvic problem.
An extended period of rehabilitation spend in Adelaide, Williams returned to Boro for the second half of the 2010/11 and has since become a key part of Tony Mowbray's plans. "The manager knows what I'm capable of and what I'm not so good at," Williams commented. "He sees me as a vital player. I don't want to leave and be a squad player somewhere else, I want to be hopefully a major player for this club … He's trying to build something here and I want to be a part of that."
VALE FRANK MILLER
The football family is in mourning following the passing of journalist and Hall of Fame inductee Frank Miller over the weekend at the age of 82. Miller is considered to be one of West Australia’s premier football journalists having worked in print, radio and television for over 30 years. Born in Scotland, Miller moved to Perth as an 18-year old and three years later became the football writer at the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. He also wrote for the ‘Weekend News’ and the ‘Daily News’ as well as enjoying stints as a commentator with the ABC and Channel 9. Miller entered the Hall of Recognition category of the Football Hall of Fame WA in 2002 and was made a Life Member of the Football Media Association of Australiain 2010.
BRISBANE “A MASSIVE GAME FOR US”: BURNS
Perth Glory will have to be at the top of their game to beat Brisbane Roar in Saturday night’s blockbuster at Perth Oval according to captain Jacob Burns. In one of the biggest games of the season, third-placed Glory takes on second-placed Brisbane with only four points separating the sides. “They have been playing some quality football and its ‘total football’ so we are going to have to be at our best to conquer them,” Burns said. “It’s a massive game for us and it’s a good chance to get a little bit closer to them and coming into the last few games, it’s where we want to be.”
This weekend will be the second meeting of Glory and Brisbane this year, the previous encounter being a six-goal thriller in January that ended 3-3. “We showed at home we played them off the park, a couple of mistakes let them in so we are looking to rectify that and go one better,” commented Burns. “But they are a quality team and they have proven that over the last couple of seasons and it’s a great game for us to play.” Glory will wear their white ‘away’ strip on Saturday evening in support of Therapy Focus, who provide therapy and support services to children and young people with a disability or learning disadvantage.
BOLAND KEEPS FLOREAT ON COURSE (with George Tsadilas, Football West)
Floreat Athena’s desire for back-to-back Night Series titles is alive and well following this evening’s 6-1 win over Shamrock Rovers at Litis Stadium. A tight first half finished level with Cathal Quinn’s opener negated by Bobby Wilson, however, the second half was a different story as Liam Boland piled on three goals amid finishes by Spencer Harris and substitute Jason Pottier. “It seemed as though the luck of the Irish was going to get the better of us tonight but fortunately we kept creating chances and shone through in the end,” said Floreat coach Chris Barbas.
Needing to win big to pinch a quarterfinals berth, Shamrock looked lively from the get-go with their stifling tactics frustration Floreat’s midfield unit. Shamrock seized the opportunity to push forward and when a loose ball fell nicely for Cathal Quinn he curled over the head of Michael Craggs from 22-metres for a one-nil lead. Floreat responded with a series of attacking raids in which fizz twice headed over, Mark Pritchard hit the post and Mike Lawson was thwarted by goalkeeper Eamon Barnes. This pressure paid off three minutes from the break when Wilson found himself in space to head strongly past Barnes.
The momentum started to swing Floreat’s way and ten minutes after the break Boland capitalised by scrambling the ball over the line. Having matched their opponent for almost an hour, Shamrock now looked to be running out of steam. With ten minutes to go Harris picked up a wayward clearance by the Shamrock custodian to pick into the net from 35-metres. With this the floodgates opened with Boland shooting low into the net on 88 minutes before completing his hat-trick from the penalty spot. Pottier rounded out the scoring by side-footing in with just seconds left on the clock.
THE SPIRIT IS STRONG (with George Tsadilas, Football West)
Southern Spirit piled on the goals to triumph 8-2 over Canning City in the early game at Litis Stadium. The win was set-up by a dominant first half display and some midfield magic by former national league player Robbie Puca, who scored once and set-up three other goals. Aaron Bahadori netted twice along with Brad North, Julian Bordini, Felim Rugel and Puca to effectively end the game as a contest in the first half with Rob Celesti putting away Spirit’s final two goals after the break.
Spirit opened the scoring on 13 minutes through a dipping volley by North which found the top corner past goalkeeper Paul Basto. But the teams were soon level as Simon Correia stole possession and squared to an unmarked Mandela Bolbol whose curling shot from the top of the 18-yard box hit the back of the net. With this Canning lifted but it just wasn’t going to be their night as Bolbol and Anthony Harris hit the woodwork and Josh Findlater’s diving header was tipped over by Glen Sheldon at full-stretch.
Puca was dominant in the middle of the park and on 28 minutes his incisive through ball was despatched past the ‘keeper to put Spirit back in control. Seven minutes later Bahadori finished into the net after also being released by Puca. Rugel got in on the act by coming out the better of a one-on-one with the ‘keeper, before some great touches on the edge of the box by North and Puca ended with the latter getting on the score sheet. Bahadori rounded out the half with a neat finish from another Puca through ball.
With the result beyond doubt, the second half was little more than a training run for both sides. Rob Celesti had been on the park only five minutes when he took the difference to six goals with an hour played. Celesti helped himself to a second goal in the 85 minutes before Mark Trevisiol grabbed a late consolation for Canning. Post-game, Spirit coach Rob Pagnoni was a very happy man. “Everyone went out and did their job and although we flattened out in the second half, I couldn’t have asked for a better performance,” he said. “Hopefully we can take this form into the start of the season.”
LATE WINNER SENDS BAYSWATER THROUGH
Mundy Toure scored just minutes from the full-time to send Bayswater City through to the last eight of the Night Series with a 2-1 win over Stirling Lions in the late game at Macedonia Park. Gustavo Catarcione had Bayswater up at the interval and although Phil O’Callaghan restored parity it was Toure who’d have the final say. “It was a good game tonight, two good teams battling it out,” said winning coach Mauro Marchione. “We changed our formation slightly tonight to stop the Lions, who I believe are one of the best teams in the league, and it worked, I thought we deserved the win.”
A bright start by Stirling had Matty Barlow shoot into the side netting and O’Callaghan place straight at goalkeeper Tom Dixon. Bayswater returned fire through Patrick Quinn whose shot from 9-metres was parried by Cory Hugo and Jason Gavin cleared the rebound. The breakthrough came on 25 minutes, John Kearney releasing Cisco Jorquera down the left with his cross picking out Catarcione, who finished clinically from 7-metres. Bayswater should have doubled their lead five minutes later but Catarcione’s spot kick, awarded for Matt Harold’s foul on Toure, crashed into the crossbar.
Bayswater continued to take the game to their opponents with Jorquera’s attempt drifting just past the post and soon after Catarcione found space inside the 18-yard box only to shoot straight at the ‘keeper. As the half came to a close Stirling upped the ante and although Barlow had the ball in the back of the net he was ruled offside in receiving Gareth McGlynn’s cut back. Then in stoppage-time they went close again, O’Callaghan and Barlow combining to set up Paul Lloyd whose attempt on goal whistled narrowly the wrong side of the upright.
The early stages of the second half saw chances come and go at both ends of the park. Jorquera headed wide from a quickly taken free-kick by Kearney, then O’Callaghan missed the target at close-range after being found by Jamie De Abreu. Catarcione’s through ball was into the path of Toure who shot wide with only the ‘keeper to beat, and Craig Robson’s free-kick had Tom Dixon at full-stretch to save. Stirling’s persistence was eventually rewarded after 69 minutes, referee Michal Jasinski awarding the hosts a penalty after Barlow’s powerful shot struck Kearney on the arm with O’Callaghan converting from the spot.
The pace quickened as the game entered its final ten minutes, Toure playing in Catarcione who fended off Robson only to lift over the bar from 11-metres. Bayswater got the result they were after in the 87th minute when a tidy one-two on top of the area between Toure and Catarcione was finished low into the net by the former. It was now the turn of Stirling to press and two minutes later De Abreu’s shot was fumbled by Dixon, who recovered to take the ball at the second attempt and ensure his teams’ passage into the quarter-finals.
LONG WAIT IS OVER FOR SUBIACO
Subiaco AFC over-turned a half-time deficit to run out 3-1 winners over Fremantle Spirit in their final Night Series outing at Macedonia Park. Danny Malcolm, Simon Edwards and Harry Johnson hit the back of the net after the break, cancelling out Sam Halifax’s first half opener and earning Subiaco their first State League win in 20 years. “We made a number of changes tonight to give some guys a run. It took us time to settle (but) we lifted and deservedly went on to win it,” said Subiaco coach Ian Cowan. “We missed Jordan Rhodes but I thought David Calder stepped up for us in the midfield, which was pleasing.”
Chances were few and far between during the opening exchanges as the teams sounded each other out. It wasn’t until the 22nd minute that the game really came to life when Halifax punished a goalkeeping error by Tom Barratt by firing into an empty net. The damage should have been greater but Halifax shot straight at Barratt after the ‘keeper’s poor clearance fell to his Fremantle opponent. Subiaco’s first chance came from the left with David Calder delivering a superb cross to Scott Wrightson, whose shot was well saved by Matthew Zappacosta. Halifax was presented another chance to increase Fremantle’s lead but lifted high from 6-metres after meeting Siddharth Arora’s centre.
Whatever Cowan said at the break certainly sunk in as Subiaco came out from the break fired up. They needed only 11 minutes to get back on level terms, Calder playing down the left for Tom Proctor whose far post cross found Malcolm and while his shot was blocked by Christ Beech he lashed past Zappacosta at the second attempt. Subiaco were now dominating and three minutes later Wrightson’s snap from 7-metres was cleared off the line by Kamara Kross. Only a few more minutes passed before Barratt was called into action to deny Malcolm as Subiaco upped their chase for the lead.
Fremantle substitute Abdirizag Ahmed Shaqlane could have put his side back in front but placed just wide after Barratt spilled a cross from Tim Freeman. Subiaco returned to the attack where Simon Edwards shot too close to Zappacosta after appearing to be impeded by Beech. That mattered not, however, as on 74 minutes Frank Galvin’s long throw-in caught the Fremantle defence flat-footed with Edwards racing away to fire low past the ‘keeper. The result was secured five minutes later when Galvin’s free-kick picked out Johnson whose first time shot soared into the top corner.
PERTH MAKE IT THREE OUT OF THREE (with Sophie Hawkins, Football West)
A young Perth SC outfit confirmed their participation in the Night Series quarter-finals by fending off Wanneroo City 4-1 in a lively late game at Dorrien Gardens. Goals either side of the break by David Onoforo had the Blues in a seemingly comfortable position before Guy McDonald gave Wanneroo a glimmer of hope by netting midway through the second period. Josh Wilkins restored his teams’ two-goal buffer before Antonio Naglieri secured their third straight pre-season win.
Perth mounted their first attack on goal after 3 minutes when Dom De Felice’s shot on the turn flashed over the crossbar. Wanneroo found it difficult to penetrate the hosts’ defences but on 14 minutes Luke Martino’s sliced clearance fell to Sahar Konomanyi who was closed down before he could get off a shot. There was no such wastefulness at the other end of the park with Onoforo coolly slotting past Brynn Hindley in the 22nd minute after receiving a nice pass from Matt Izzo.
A goalbound effort by Konomanyi was cleared off the line by Antonio Naglieri as Wanneroo went looking for an answer. The northern suburbs side also had a penalty appeal denied when Guy McDonald was brought down inside the 18-yard box with referee John Taran seeing nothing in it. Perth went forward again in the 28th minute with Naglieri forcing a fine save from Hindley, who tipped the ball around his post, and nothing came of the resulting corner which Lewis Hall cleared.
Both teams were full of attacking enthusiasm at the start of the second half but neither ‘keeper was called into meaningful action. That changed in the 64th minute when Robert Sciascia threaded a pass to Onoforo who tucked away Perth’s second goal, punishing an error by the opposition side. Seven minutes later McDonald went past one defender only to be taken down, referee Taran had no hesitation in pointing to the spot with the Wanneroo midfielder firing straight down the middle to half the gap.
H.Damal made his way down the right in the 76th minute before playing a centring ball to Josh Wilkins, who delivered a great turn and finish to beat Hindley for Perth’s third goal. Wanneroo wanted a quick response but were thwarted no fewer than five times in a goalmouth scramble. The game was eventually put beyond their reach in the 85th minute when a defensive blunder coughed up possession to Onoforo who laid the ball off for Naglieri to unleash a long-range thunderbolt which slipped through Hindley’s grasp.
DIANELLA GRIND OUT RESULT AGAINST KINGSWAY (with Sophie Hawkins, Football West)
Dianella White Eagles gave themselves hope for the coming season by downing Kingsway Olympic in an uninspiring encounter at Dorrien Gardens. It took until the closing stages for Dhamon Kalamaras to edge Dianella in front with Sotiris Theodoseadis securing the win in stoppage time. “Our performance was a little bit down on intensity on the last two games but we created plenty of chances and would have won more comfortably if we were more clinical,” admitted Dianella boss Jamie Goodman.
The opening 45 minutes offered little excitement with very few opportunities forged by either team. Dianella controlled much of the early possession but their only real chance on goal came via Andreas Theodosiadis’ pass to Jalil Armad whose chip shot caught Jordan Franken’s fingertips before being cleared by the defence. Dianella got through again in the 28th minute, Andreas Theodosiadis laid off to Mathew Catalano who mis-hit when faced by an open goal. Spiro Nenadic headed against the crossbar from a Simon Barber’s cross as Dianella’s frustrations mounted.
Kingsway didn’t threaten until the second half when Elliott Rose’s cross intended for Sota Iwasaki was claimed by ‘keeper Matt Battingelli, who soon after saved a header by Oli Forster. The deadlock was finally broken after 76 minutes by Kalamaras’ shot on the turn which was too good for Franken. Kingsway staged a half-hearted fight back in reply but their inability to break down the opposing defence was more a result of their own errors than anything else. Dianella sealed the game in the 93rd minute when Sotiris Theodosiadis drove high into the top left corner of the net.
BUNBURY MARCH INTO LAST EIGHT (with Kelechi Osunwa, Football West)
Local product Martin Ryan played the starring role in Bunbury Forum Force’s seesawing 5-3 defeat of Cockburn City at Dalmatinac Park. Ryan, who grew up in Busselton, hit the back of the net four times before Lee Stewart added his teams’ final goal to seal their first ever appearance in the Night Series’ last eight. “We conceded some bad goals and need to tighten our defence up but apart from that we showed great character and resilience,” said winning coach Nigel Wilcox. “We took it to them in the second half and came out deserving winners.”
An end-to-end contest had been in motion 13 minutes when Cockburn took the lead in calamitous circumstances, Martin Barnet harassing goalkeeper Montgomery into a miscued clearance that ricocheted into the net off via back of a defender. Cockburn doubled the advantage in the 35th minute with Ross Diamond playing a one-two with Marc Anthony before waltzing past two defenders and slotting past the ‘keeper. A minute later Ryan halved the deficit by powerfully heading in an exquisite cross from the left by Jon Brooks. And only three further minutes passed before parity was restored, Ryan turning his man deep inside the 18-yard box to blast past Dejan Aleksic.
Bunbury continued in much the same fashion after the break with Ryan twisting, turning and shimmying past three defenders then the ‘keeper to complete his hat-trick. At this stage Cockburn could have capitulated but instead Devon Gibson put them back in the game with a deflected effort following a corner. An individual moment of artistry put Bunbury back in front with fifteen minutes to go, Steve Howson going past several opponents to send in a low cross which Ryan rammed in for goal number four. The game was not sealed until the final minute when substitute Lee Stewart was presented the easiest of finishes.
MANDURAH END WITH BIG WIN (with Kelechi Osunwa, Football West)
Mandurah City bowed out of the pre-season tournament on a high, smashing southern rivals Rockingham City 5-0 in the twilight fixture at Dalmatinac Park. Jeff Bright and Matt Stares put the Dolphins in a comfortable position inside the half hour with an own goal taking the difference to three goals just before the interval. The dismissal of Oscar Thompson early in the second half ended Rockingham hopes of a comeback while late goals from Rafael Insauralde and Townsend were the icing on Mandurah’s cake.
The game started at breakneck pace with the opening goal arriving after 14 minutes, Insauralde’s quick free-kick sending clear Bright who lashed past goalkeeper Bradley Cruickshank. That lead was doubled in the 27th minute by Stares’ explosive strike from distance which cannoned down off the underside of the crossbar and over the line. It only got worse for Rockingham as just three minutes from the break Townsend’s towering header at a corner was deflected into the net by a defender.
A stern talking to from coach Steve Robinson at the break saw Rockingham open the second half with greater urgency until teenager Oscar Thompson was issued his marching orders on the hour for two quick bookings. A terrific display by Cruickshank coupled with last gasp defending prevented Mandurah from running away with the game. That was until an 85th minute moment of brilliance by Insauralde, who turned his marker to drill the ball in from outside the 18-yard box. Townsend completed the rout with a last minute header to cap a five-star performance.
DOMINANT GLORY JUMP INTO THIRD
A couple of exquisite headers by Adam Hughes and Billy Mehmet powered Perth Glory back into the winners’ circle as they downed finals rivals Newcastle Jets 2-0 under lights at Perth Oval. Hughes and Mehmet struck either side of half-time in a one-sided encounter which propelled Glory into third spot. “It was a big win,” Mehmet said. “We needed it to put a wee gap between ourselves and (sixth-placed) Newcastle and obviously keep in touch with the top two as well. It’s brilliant for the boys and obviously personally I was delighted to chip in with a goal.”
Glory suffered an early blow when midfielder Liam Miller, who scuffed a straight forward chance to open the scoring in the 5th minute, limped off with a hamstring injury only seven minutes later. The setback proved to be a blessing in disguise with substitute Hughes latching onto Josh Risdon’s pin-point cross to head into the net in the 16th minute. Hughes’ powerful shot in the 34th minute was tipped brilliantly onto the crossbar by Ben Kennedy, with the woodwork also denying Steve McGarry’s follow-up strike. In contrast, Newcastle struggled to create any clear-cut chances on goal across the opening 45 minutes.
Mile Sterjovski decided to get in on the act early in the second half with a rasping 25-metre strike that grazed the top of the bar. Glory’s ongoing affair with the woodwork continued moments later as Hughes weaved his way across the top of the box to release a thundering shot that cannoned back off the post. But it mattered little as, with 59 minutes played, Burns curled in a superb cross from the right and Mehmet rose highest to head powerfully into the top corner. The 8,108 strong crowd would have had further reasons to celebrate had Travis Dodd or Sterjovski been able to convert the supply of substitute Andrezinho.
WEST AUSTRALIA IN LINE FOR $500,000 FIFA GRANT
FIFA is considering financial assistance for a proposed $15 million administration and training headquarters for West Australian football. An official from the governing body’s development office in Kuala Lumpur was in Perth last week to make an initial assessment of Football West’s application for a $500,000 grant to kick-start the project. Jeysing Muthiah was impressed with the scope of Football West’s plans, which include the establishment of a boutique stadium with artificial surface, three full-size pitches and office space on land at Vasto Place in Balcatta.
FIFA’s Goal Project funding scheme is used to assist member associations develop facilities and up to seven countries will receive a grant at next month’s allocation. “The plans that they (Football West) have are very good and they want to use it not just for Perth Glory or some national teams coming down for training but also for community football, which fits very well with FIFA,” Muthiah told the ‘West Australian’. “The more you utilise this we find it’s worth putting the Goal Project funding into this kind of facility.”
Football West chief executive Peter Hugg was confident Perth would beat off similar bids for funding from Tasmania and Victoria. “We were very pleased with the hearing we got from both FIFA and the FFA and clearly they understand our requirement and needs,” Hugg said. “Not only do we need a home for administrative purposes but more significantly this will provide teams from the State, around the country and the south-east Asian region to come to Perth and train in a high performance environment.”
UWA-NEDLANDS THROUGH WITH A PERFECT RECORD (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
UWA-Nedlands scored twice to in the final ten minutes to chalk up a 3-2 come-from-behind win over Quinns at Percy Doyle Reserve. Rory Feely, in his first outing for UWA, capitalised on the group leaders first half dominance by scoring midway through, however, Quinns found something extra after the break and gained the upper hand after John McNeil and Mitch Sacco scored within four minutes of eachother. With ten minutes to go Jake Mann restored parity before Feely secured victory just two minutes later. The result means UWA finish on top of Group A, teeing up a quarter-final showdown with the winner of Sunday’s Stirling Lions-Bayswater City meeting.
The early signs were promising for UWA with Roberto Lujan’s free-kick bringing the best out of Jason Galea after only 2 minutes. Galea was again called into action again with Feely forcing a fine reflex save from the goalkeeper. Quinns first meaningful effort came via McNeil whose strike was comfortably saved by Kevin Towers. It was UWA though that had the better of play and on 31 minutes they deservedly went ahead, Feely holding the ball before turning to fire past a helpless Galea. Shortly after Guy Clark surged down the right but dragged his shot narrowly the wrong side of the upright.
UWA continued to control the game after the turnaround with Themo Georgiou, Mann and Feely all getting off shots on goal. But on 67 minutes Quinns equalised with McNeil slotting into an empty net after beating substitute ‘keeper Duncan Lissiman to the ball. Quinns then turned the screws with a second goal, Sacco firing in after the defence failed to deal with a long ball into the 18-yard box. The lead only lasted seven minutes though, as a throw-in was well worked by Kyle King allowing Mann to skip around his marker and shot past replacement ‘keeper Anthony Cochrane. Feely secured UWA a third straight win with a tidy finish after linking well with Mann in the 82nd minute.
SORRENTO HIT NEIGHBOURS FOR SIX (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
Sorrento ended their pre-season in emphatic fashion, thumping arch-rival ECU Joondalup 6-1 in the dead rubber at Percy Doyle Reserve. Both teams traded attacks early with Shaun Timmins’ finish cancelled out by Jordan Dodd’s equaliser. The Gulls stepped up the pace with Brodie Martin and Jason Mirco giving them an comfortable two-goal buffer at the break. Todd Harnwell struck twice in quick succession at the start of the second half before Steve McDonald added further gloss just before the hour.
It didn’t take long for Sorrento to assert themselves on the game with Timmins applying an easy finish in the 7th minute after Todd Harnwell’s shot on the turn came back off the post. Joondalup responded in kind, Jordan Dodd showed great composure to lift Declan Hargreaves’ long ball over new goalkeeper James Morgan and slotting into an empty net. The Gulls defence was breached again shortly after but Jon Higgins delayed just long enough for Michael Aspin to get across and block his shot.
Sorrento’s reply to that close call came on 23 minutes when Martin lashed a McDonald nod down past Andy Banks. The margin was increased eight minutes from the break, Mirco collecting the ball near the halfway line and weaving his way past several opponents before curling a lovely shot over a helpless ‘keeper. Joondalup’s plight then went from bad to worse with Stuart Hartmann exiting the game on a stretcher just a few minutes shy of the interval.
There was no let-up in the second half with Sorrento sealing the win with a trio of quick goals. Their fourth arrived in the 49th minute when Todd Harnwell slammed past Banks having been the beneficiary of a good nod-down from McDonald. Four minutes later Brodie Martin’s shot was prevented from entering the net by Banks who was helpless as Todd Harnwell buried the follow-up. McDonald got in on the act after 58 minutes by capitalising on some poor defending from a set-piece to put goal number six in the net.
MELVILLE CHALK UP VICTORY NUMBER ONE (with Bianca Redding, Football West)
Melville City got the better of Gosnells City by 3-2 in the early game at Alfred Skeet Oval. Simon El Chami struck a late winning goal after Arthur Gaye’s first half double had been cancelled out by Raymond McDonald and Jamie Burns. Post-game, Melville coach Danny Evans said his team had proved themselves a worthy addition to the State league landscape. “We have proven ourselves by being competitive against Inglewood, getting a 2-2 result against Armadale and obviously the positive result tonight,” Evans commented. “We’re developing groups of players at this early stage and we’ve got lots of positives we can take from these games, and also identified the things we need to work on.”
Melville hit the ground running with Sasa Slavujevic and Gaye combining to terrific effect in the final third. Their hard work paid off in the 10th minute when Slavujevic played through to Gaye whose powerful shot from the top of the 18-yard box was too good for goalkeeper Adriano D’Alo. Slavujevic was provider again seven minutes later, luring D’Alo out of position before slipping the ball to Gaye who finished into an empty net. Gosnells called ‘keeper Stewart Dalgarno into action on several occasions before McDonald pulled a goal back on 34 minutes by heading in an Adrian McBride corner. Two minutes later Gosnells broke through again with Burns striking past an advancing ‘keeper.
An even second half had opportunities go begging for both sides to increase their tally. Hadi Hussien was particularly impressive for Melville, the utility player involved in all aspects of his teams’ game. Two yellow cards in quick succession to Paul Harvey left Gosnells to play the final ten minutes with ten men. That was all the invitation Melville needed as, following some good build-up play, El Chami headed into the net after D’Alo fumbled his initial attempt in the 84th minute. Melville held off several attempts from a desperate Gosnells in the remaining minutes, giving them a positive outlook for the season as the curtain came down on the Night Series for both sides.
POINT IS ENOUGH FOR INGLEWOOD (with James Wragg, Football West)
Inglewood United are through to the last eight of the Night Series after playing out an entertaining 1-1 draw with Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval. The visitors raced to a two-goal lead through goals by Ryan Clarke and David Perich only to have Sean Nicholls reduce the deficit in the shadows of half time. Alan Darlington restored parity early in the second half but despite some sustained late pressure the Reds were unable to find a winning goal and therefore bow out of the pre-season tournament. Inglewood will meet the winner of Group C, most likely Bunbury Forum Force, in next week’s quarter-finals.
The game took a while to get going with a tactical opening offering little in the way of goal scoring opportunities. All that changed on 26minutes when Clarke exploded past two challenges to go through and calmly slot past Cyril Sharrock. The lead was doubled twelve minutes later, Clarke crossing from the left to the back post where Brendan Ross headed in the direction of Perich who fired beyond the reach of Sharrock. Armadale showed the game was far from over by pulling a goal back on 45 minutes, David Caine’s fierce free-kick was spilled by youngster Alex Sutton and Nicholls was on hand to knock the ball over the line.
It took Armadale only five minutes of the second period to draw level, Darlington punishing a sloppy mistake in midfield by Jason Colli. Michael Baczynski should have put Inglewood back in front on the hour but his header from a Colli cross was claimed by Sharrock. The Reds goalkeeper remained in the action, tipping Miki Vujacic’s close-range thunderbolt onto the crossbar and then denying Danny Richman one-on-one as holes began to appear in the Armadale rearguard. In a frantic finish Armadale threw everything into finding a late winner but were met by stern resistance from an Inglewood side that had no intention of surrendering their valuable point.
BALCATTA SEE RED IN ASHFIELD BOILOVER (with Ilija Mihalj, Football West)
Ashfield snuck into the Night Series quarter-finals by stunning Balcatta 4-1 in an action-packed encounter under lights at Wotton Reserve. The night started positively for Balcatta, who needed just one point to progress, with Adam Tong giving them an early lead from the penalty spot. However, Daryl Warren levelled on the half hour before second half strike by Karl O’Reilly and Ryan Frisina put Ashfield in the box seat. Balcatta then imploded with Tong, Jovo Pavlovic and Geneveo Human all sent off in an astonishing 12-minute period, after which Frisina sealed the game with his second goal.
Post-game, Ashfield’s man of the moment Frisina emphasised the team effort that saw them inflict one of the biggest upsets of the pre-season so far. “Tonight was a big night for the Ashfield Soccer Club,” he said. “The boys put in a massive effort and worked hard all week at training. We did the things we had to do and had a good result at the end.” The result set-up a quarter-final showdown for Ashfield against the winner of Sunday’s fixture between Floreat Athena and Shamrock Rovers, who sit jointly at the top of Group G.
The ball had been in motion only 6 minutes when Martin Sherwin’s foul on Daniel Micevski led referee Anastasios Paraskevas to point to the spot, with Tong confidently converting to make it advantage Balcatta. Ashfield were struggling to make an impact on the game but on 29 minutes equalised against the run of play, midfielder Warren catching the defence napping to slide his shot past Bobson Karoma. Although Ashfield grew in confidence as the half drew to a close, it was Balcatta that should have scored next but John Thornley blasted high a good opportunity.
That miss was punished five minutes after the restart when Frisina’s innocuous shot was fumbled by Karoma into the path of O’Reilly, who made no mistake from a metre out. Ashfield edged in front on 62 minutes, Steven O’Mahoney’s corner to the far post finding Frisina whose got his angles right in nodding across the ’keeper and inside the far post. Balcatta responded with wave after wave of attack and in the 72nd minute Tong was convinced his header had crossed the line, however, match officials ruled otherwise and Paraskevas issued the Englishman his second yellow card for taking his protests over the top.
Balcatta’s night went from bad to worse seven minutes later, Pavlovic collecting a straight red card for a two-footed lunge on midfielder Ruben Tristao despite clearly getting some of the ball. Their woes were compounded from the resulting free-kick, Karoma spilling Sherwin’s effort straight at the feet of Frisina who had little difficulty making it four-one. The drama was by no means over and with seven minutes remaining Balcatta substitute Human was issued his marching orders following a sideline scuffle which involved players wearing both sets of shirts.
FIVE-STAR MORLEY THRASH JOONDALUP CITY (with Andrew Ellis, Football West)
Morley Windmills signed out of the Night Series with a crushing 5-0 defeat of Joondalup City at Wooton Reserve. Although a dead rubber, spectators were treated to a competitive match full of attacking intent with Luke O’Neill’s strike midway through the first half all that separated the teams after 45 minutes. Morley ran away with the game after the break as two goals from David Houston bookended finishes from Andy O’Neill and Eddie Walsh. “We played some good football and worked hard as a team,” said Houston post-game. “A clean sheet for the defence, and five goals up front .. a great performance.”
The host side set their flag early with Houston springing the offside trap but his hesitancy to shoot allow the defence time to get back and thwart the striker. Play soon switched to the other end where Jan Van Der Heiden scuffed weakly into the upright. The better of possession was held by Morley with some exquisite flourishes from Houston counterbalanced by his over-elaboration in the final third. Joondalup may have been on the back foot for the most part but they almost snuck in front after 19 minutes when Van Der Heiden slipped a low shot past Steve Grant only to have Nick Davies clear off the line.
Having gone close on several occasions, Morley finally got the goal they sought in the 24th minute, Houston crossing from the right onto the head of Luke O’Neill who made no mistake. It could have been two-nil six minutes later when a shirt-pull on Fraser McGuire left referee Gabrielle Merlocco no option but to award a penalty, however, Luke O’Neill’s attempt was far too close to Willy Powley who saved comfortably. Morley remained on the attack as the half drew to a close but were unable to find a second avenue to goal.
Grant prevented Joondalup from equalising by tipping Craig Highet’s free-kick from distance away from the net. Morley responded in the 54th minute when Luke O’Neill played in Houston, who slipped a composed finish inside the near post for a two-nil lead. The gap was further increased in the 71st minute, Andy O’Neill’s cross deceiving Powley to sneak inside the far post. Walsh had been on the park only a couple of minutes when with his first touch he sent the ball into the back of the net, set-up by Houston. The final whistle was looming large when Houston added his second, and Morley’s fifth of the evening.
KNIGHTS THROUGH DESPITE LATE SCARE (with James Mooney, Football West)
Western Knights managed to fend off a late come back and down Swan United 3-2 in tonight’s twilight fixture at Hartfield Park. Two goals from Callum Roberts and another by Stuart Montgomery looked to have the Knights home comfortably when Trent Wood bagged a late double. “Swan were probably the better side in the first half but to our boys credit we got the two goals,” said Knights boss Carl Medica. “There is lots to improve on which we need to for next week’s game.” The Knights will face the winner of Group F, currently topped by Perth SC, in the round of eight.
Swan United looked the goods early on but squandering two good chances to go in front, Chris Atkinson and Rory Hollingum the guilty parties. It wasn’t until the closing stages of the half that the Knights struck with two goals in as many minutes to turn the game. Montgomery’s effort from the top of the 18-yard box had far too much venom for goalkeeper Jordan Howell, who got a hand on the shot which bulged the roof of his net after 40 minutes. That was followed five minutes later when Roberts found himself alone inside the area, the attacker gliding his shot into the bottom corner for a two-nil lead.
The tempo dropped somewhat in the second half with both teams adoption of the long ball game meaning neither was able to maintain. The game seemed to be all but over when Roberts placed nicely to blow the gap out to three goals on the hour. It wasn’t until the 88th minute that Swan were given a glimmer of hope with Wood in the right place at the right time to slot. Two minutes later Wood walked the ball into the net after the Knights failed to clear the danger from inside the 18-yard box. But it was too late as the Knight were firm to claim a 3-2 victory.
FORRESTFIELD YOUNG GUNS PROVIDE HOPE (with James Mooney, Football West)
Forrestfield United finished their Night Series campaign with an emphatic 4-1 victory over Second Division outfit Fremantle United under lights at Hartfield Park. Jordan Hart and Ben Frazer struck twice each to give the host team a deserved victory with Connor Murphy getting Fremantle’s lone reply in the first half. Forrestfield coach Phil Butler was pleased with the endeavour shown by his young side, describing them as some of the best young talent in the state. “We’re looking to develop another group of players, we had a group before but they didn’t quite manage to get to the Premier League and we’re hoping this group, in a year or two, can be knocking on the door,” he said.
The game had been underway just 2 minutes when Hart’s first touch saw him lob goalkeeper Carlos Beruonoti from 22-metres for the games’ opening goal. That set the tone for an opening stanza which Forrestfield dominated possession and territory with Fremantle playing largely on the counter attack. A defensive error on the quarter hour was punished by Murphy, who strolled down the left and slotted in from a narrow angle to bring the teams level. With this Forrestfield returned to the attack, creating some lovely openings on the end of which shots from Rhys Loxley and Wade Farmer crashed into the upright. Their efforts were rewarded after 30 minutes when Hart tucked in his second goal after an outstanding save by Beruonoti.
The entertainment value slipped away in the second half as some crisp passing made way for a long ball approach from both teams. Fremantle showed signs of a comeback with several chances open goal hitting the outside of the post, while a controversial late penalty was wasted by Murphy whose clipped shot glided into the waiting arms of ‘keeper Mat Weynl. The introduction of Frazer with thirteen minutes to go provided Forrestfield the spark they had been lacking in the final third with the attacker widening the difference on the scoreboard after 88 minutes. Frazer then put the icing on the cake in the final minutes of regulation time.
NIGHT SERIES PREVIEW
The Night Series field will be trimmed to eight with the completion of this weekend’s final rounds of group games. Sitting jointly at the top of Group E are Swan United and Western Knights, who meet tonight at Hartfield Park with the victors prize being a place in the tournaments’ knock-out phase. “It is a big game for both sides,” said Ben Kelly, assistant coach at Swan. “Our boys are up for the challenge and are determined to go through.” The late game brings together host club Forrestfield United and Fremantle United (8.30pm).
Alfred Skeet Oval has another winner-take-all tussle in the form of Armadale verses Inglewood United (8.30pm). “It will be a competitive affair and one that comes a little early in our preparation, but I am sure that Inglewood would say the same thing,” said Reds assistant coach Kevin Brophy. “We will change things around again and hope that the side that we put out can put a performance in for us … it’ll be good to see where we are at against a side that finished second last year.” The early game has Gosnells City against Melville City (6.30pm).
In Group H, leaders Balcatta have a potentially tricky assignment against second-placed Ashfield in the twilight fixture at Wotton Reserve (6.30pm). Morley Windmills and Joondalup City (8.30pm) continue the search for their first pre-season win. They may be through to the quarter-finals but UWA-Nedlands won’t be taking things easy when they face Quinns FC at Percy Doyle Reserve (6.30pm). There’s not a lot more than bragging rights on offer when northern suburbs rivals ECU Joondalup and Sorrento square off in the late game (8.30pm).
Perth SC need only a point on Sunday against Wanneroo City (7.00pm) at Dorrien Gardens to progress to the knock-out stage of the tournament. “Playing a Division One side is never easy, and given it’s a new-look and disciplined Wanneroo this will be another good challenge for us,” said Basil Lenzo, assistant coach at Perth. “Everyone has that little extra energy and desire when visiting Dorrien Gardens but we are currently top of the group and intending staying there.” The action commences with Dianella White Eagles and Kingsway Olympic (5.00pm).
There’s plenty of history between Rockingham City and Mandurah City who’ll write a new chapter in their rivalry on Sunday at Dalmatinac Park (5.00pm). Bunbury Forum Force’s quest for a third straight win brings them up against Cockburn City (7.00pm) at the same venue. Either or both Canning City or Southern Spirit will pick up their first point of the tournament when they meet at Litis Stadium (5.00pm). This is followed by Floreat Athena against Shamrock Rovers (7.00pm) to decide who progresses beyond Group G.
Stirling Lions is quietly confident ahead of his teams showdown with Bayswater City (7.00pm) at Macedonia Park to decide who tops Group B. “Mauro (Marchione) is a good coach, he knows his stuff and will have a good unit out to play us,” commented Hesketh. “They have quality all over the park and are well drilled. But we are really looking forward to it, our lads have worked exceptionally hard in training and are gelling well together so it’s a big test for us.” The action at Macedonia Park opens with Fremantle Spirit and Subiaco AFC (5.00pm).
SMELTZ OUT OF NEWCASTLE GAME
Perth Glory striker Shane Smeltz has been ruled out of Saturday night’s home clash with Newcastle Jets due to an ankle injury. Smeltz, who has been hampered by the niggling complaint for several weeks, has had a blood injection in the area in a bid to finally resolve the problem and will now rest until early next week. Irish striker Billy Mehmet will be a straight swap for Smeltz in the starting line-up against Newcastle. “That’s the beauty of having two spots for each position, where if one drops out you’ve got another quality player to come in and hopefully Billy can do the job,” coach Ian Ferguson said.
Mehmet is one of three players to ink a new deal with Glory in recent weeks, the others being captain Jacob Burns and young defender Josh Risdon. Ferguson admits that with ten other players still uncontracted for next season ensuring team harmony remains strong is a delicate balancing act. “We’ve got a lot of players out of contract and we’ve got to try and keep as many as we can,” said Ferguson. “With budgets getting cut and so on we have to be careful, we can’t just rush in and sign all these players. We’ve got to take our time and make sure the budget will work out so we can take on as many players as possible.”
BARRERA RETURNS FOR BALCATTA’S TITLE DEFENCE
Balcatta midfielder Jason Barrera is ready to resume his career after missing much of last year through injury. Barrera’s 2011 season was cut short last May by a serious knee injury but the lively 24-year old has moved on and is fast approaching a first team return. “I’ve recovered well and are back in full training, I’m not 100% there yet but I’m not far off,” said Barrera. “It was a nasty injury. I ruptured the ACL and had a slight tear to the meniscus on my right knee. A Western Knights opponent accidently kicked the back of my leg, just underneath the knee, which caused it to dislocate.”
Barrera has worked hard over the off-season and is looking forward to Balcatta challenging for top honours once again. “About a month after the operation I was able to start jogging so I’ve put a fair bit of time to try and keep fit. I feel I’ve recovered quite well from the operation and I’ll be close to 100% for the start season,” said Barrera. “I can’t wait to get the season started after we missed out on the Grand Final last season. We topped the table at the end of the home and away season and it was a shame we couldn’t take out the top five series.”
Balcatta coach Michael Roki is delighted to have regained the services of his attacking midfielder. “Jason would have to be one of the most gifted players in the league and very pleased to have him back in action after a long injury,” said Roki. “He has exquisite ball control and a tremendous awareness on the park which immediately makes him extremely difficult for any opposition to deal with. Couple those attributes with an efficient passing game and polished finishing and you have a player that would be a tremendous asset to any team.”
The off-season saw Spencer Harris leave the Balcatta camp for Floreat Athena while their attacking stocks were further depleted when captain Ashley Rosindale was ruled out for the year by a knee injury on the eve of the Night Series. “I wish Ashley all the best in his recovery. I was devastated to hear about his injury, especially having just been through one myself,” commented Barrera, who considers the signing of John Thornley a major feather in his teams’ cap. “Johnny is a great player and he will definitely be an asset to the team, he certainly proved that after scoring a hat-trick in the first Night Series game.”
UWA-NEDLANDS FULL OF SURPRISES
Division Two side UWA-Nedlands have wasted little time announcing themselves as one of the teams to beat this season. UWA, who are back in the State League after a 15 year absence, are on the brink of a Night Series quarter-final appearance after bringing down top flight outfits Sorrento and ECU Joondalup. “We have enjoyed the journey immensely so far and being able to just play football without putting nets and rope around the field is a novelty,” said coach Kevin Burton. “We have started the tournament well and both wins have been satisfying as we have played against different formations.”
While delighted with UWA’s start to the year, joint coaches Burton and John McGlynn aren’t about to get carried away with their early results. “John and I are enjoying seeing the coaching effort pay off but we both recognise we have a lot of work ahead of us to get promoted, which is our primary goal for 2012,” commented Burton. “The squad has been training hard and most importantly we are enjoying playing our brand of football. The win verses Sorrento was very pleasing as they have some very good players and Joondalup certainly gave us a good test as well.”
Burton says sharing coaching responsibilities with McGlynn gives UWA an advantage over their opponents. “John and I are co-coaching and that is one of the reasons we are being successful, two heads are better than one and we are combining well off the field,” explained Burton. “We’ve made a great start to life in the State League but we still want to recruit several more players to create depth in the squad. So if anyone likes what they see then they are invited to get in touch with me or John.”
UWA need just a point from Friday’s outing with Quinns to secure their place in the Night Series’ last eight. “We will take nothing for granted. I watched Quinns make 12 passes before hitting the bar against Sorrento, and they had good chances in the game against Joondalup,” said Burton. “We will prepare properly and hopefully get the right result. We hope to go in with an unchanged team but we will see how the players pull up at training because both games (against Sorrento and Joondalup) were tough 90 minute challenges and we are still early in our pre-season.”
GLORY RE-SIGN BURNS, MEHMET
Captain Jacob Burns and import striker Billy Mehmet will be Perth Glory players until the end of the 2013/14 season after inking new deals with the A-League club. Glory, who have several key players coming out of contract at the end of the season, made the retention of Burns a priority after playing an important role in the team’s surge up the table. Mehmet has impressed in his first season with the club, scoring four times while forming a strong partnership with Shane Smeltz.
Burns, 33, isn’t ruling out playing for Glory beyond this new contract. “You look in Europe and these old guys just keep on signing new deals, so you never know,” he said. “I can only take each game as it comes but the body is feeling really good, I’m feeling fit and well. I’m not thinking about anything beyond that. “I’ve been playing the game for some 20-odd years so I’d love to stay involved in the game. I can’t see myself being away from it, I think I’d miss it too much.”
The level of professionalism displayed by Glory played a big role in 28-year old Mehmet’s decision to stay in Perth. “When you look at the way they treated people over there and you come here and see the comparison ... it was a completely different world,” said the attacker, who remembers fondly the trials of playing in Turkey. “We wouldn’t get paid on time, sometimes you wouldn’t even be training with the team. But here I’m happy and I’m glad I've got this sorted.”
CRAIG IN THE SWING WITH INGLEWOOD
Brendan Craig completed his long road to recovery by scoring twice in Inglewood United’s first game of the year. A fortnight ago Craig scored twice against Melville City to ensure Inglewood kicked off their Night Series campaign on the right foot, and in the process erased the bitter memory of a season-ending injury. “It was a long year off – I played only two games – but fingers crossed, the worst is now behind me,” said Craig. “I detached my hamstring from the bone in my right leg playing indoor soccer after having a massive air swing.”
Craig’s road to recovery has been long but having come through the pre-season with flying colours he is looking forward to the coming winter campaign. “Re-hab has gone well. Twelve months off my knee has done it wonders, its feeling very good. Perhaps it’s better than before as the passes are going straight and it is my right peg,” said the 21-year old midfielder. “I’ve always been lucky enough to get through the pre-season without too much difficulty, and again this term it seems I’m again feeling pretty good.”
It’s been an eventful close-season for Inglewood with the club’s alliance with A-League side Perth Glory the subject of much speculation and debate. Suggestions of a mass walk-out by the Inglewood players failed to come to fruition thanks in no small part to new coach Graham Normanton, who has been open and frank in discussions with his squad. “We had several chats long before we first began training explaining what is happening and what is required from all the players,” said Craig. “All credit to Normo, (his assistant) Bobby Despotovski and all the coaching staff, everyone at the club now knows where they stand.”
KELLY DISMISSES NORMANTON RUMOUR
Perth Glory chief executive Paul Kelly has denied Graham Normanton is being lined up to take over from coach Ian Ferguson. Normanton, who guided Perth SC to 22 trophies during his 11 years at the club, was last year appointed Glory's WA recruitment manager and his recent appointment as coach of Inglewood United, who have formed training and social links with Glory, fed rumours he was being groomed to replace Ferguson. "There's never been a suggestion (that Normanton would replace Ferguson)," Kelly told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "I think it's an insult and disrespectful to Fergie."
An article regarding a potential change of coach at Glory appeared in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' over the weekend, prompting Kelly to phone Ferguson to douse the speculation. "He was quite angry about it and he said I should be," Ferguson said. "There's been a lot of rumours kicking about and that was one of them. I heard that (rumour) probably two to three months ago when we were going through that bad spell (of one win in 11 games). But I can't let things affect me. I've got to try and concentrate on the job."
Normanton was appointed to the recruitment manager role by Kelly after only brief consultation with Ferguson. But while Normanton has aspirations to coach in the A-League – he starts his 'A' coaching licence in April – his immediate aim is to assist Glory by identifying State League players capable of stepping up to national league level. "I'm in no way shape or form trying to undermine or back stab Ian Ferguson," Normanton said. Ferguson's contract expires at the end of the season and owner Tony Sage will wait until after the regular campaign before making a decision on the coach's future.
EDWARDS TO GUIDE THE NEXT GENERATION OF SOCCEROOS
One-time Australia and Perth Glory striker Alistair Edwards has been appointed coach the Joeys, Australia’s under-17 team. Edwards will lead the Joeys for the Under-16 Asian Cup this October as well as next years’ FIFA Under-17 World Cup with another former Socceroo, Tony Vidmar, as his assistant. “Alistair and Tony have shown themselves, both as players and more recently as coaches, to be of the highest calibre and to have the right attitude, experience and personalities to be in charge of these two vital development programs,” said national technical director Han Berger.
Edwards will retain his position as assistant technical director with Football Federation Australia, with Vidmar adding the senior coach role at the Australian Institute of Sport. “Whilst the AIS program aims to provide the majority of players for the Joeys squads, the task of providing the daily training environment for the players and that of managing a team at international tournaments are slightly different,” added Berger. “To recruit two former Socceroos and well-credentialed coaches for the separate roles really enhances the support and development that these players will receive.”
Edwards, 43, was born in South Australia but grew up in Perth where he played for Kwinana United before taking up a scholarship at the AIS and representing Australia in qualifiers for the 1987 FIFA Under-20 World Cup. He scored the winning goal for Sydney Olympic in the 1989 National Soccer League Grand Final and went on to play for Singapore, Johor, Selangor and Sarawak (Malaysia), Brighton and Hove Albion and Millwall (England) as well as and Glory. On the international stage Edwards made 19 ‘A’ appearances for Australia, returning 3 goals, between 1991 and 1997.
FERGUSON SHOULD REMAIN COCH OF GLORY: MILLER
Midfielder Liam Miller wants Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson to be given a new contract. Miller, who has worked under Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and Martin O’Neill at Celtic, was lured to Perth by the Glory boss and hopes to be working closely with him again next season. “For sure, he’s done great,” Miller said when asked whether Ferguson deserved an extension to the contract that expires at the end of the season. “I think managers are judged on winning games and we’ve been great so far but at the end of the day the players aren’t going to get carried away. We know there’s still a long way to go.”
Former Republic of Ireland midfielder Miller signed a two-year deal with Glory at the start of the season on the strength of Ferguson’s pitch. However, the coach’s continued tenure relies on a strong finish to the season. Fourth-placed Glory lost some ground in their pursuit of a top-two finish when Sydney FC inflicted a first loss in nine games on the side last weekend. Glory owner Tony Sage will wait until the end of the home-and-away season - there are six games left - before making a decision on Ferguson's position.
JOONDALUP STEP UP FIGHT FOR UNPAID FEES (by Jonathon Cook, the 'West Australian')
ECU Joondalup have turned to Football Federation Australia to help retrieve around $310,000 in unpaid fees from cash-strapped English club Portsmouth. FFA was notified by Joondalup officials last month of the club's battle to recoup training and development fees for young players Ryan Williams, Alex Grant and Andrew Higgins, who all signed for Portsmouth. But the clock is ticking as Portsmouth, who play in the Championship, fight for survival after accruing significant debts, including a tax bill of more than £1.6 million ($2.36 million) and whose parent company went into administration last year.
Joondalup are owed £150,000 for the trio, while Joondalup is also entitled to a percentage of the recent transfer fee paid by Premier League club Fulham for Williams. The Cottagers are understood to have paid around £300,000 for Williams, not £500,000 as initially reported, and Joondalup are seeking around £60,000 of the transfer fee in line with the sell-on clause in Williams' contract. Under FIFA regulations, Portsmouth could be forced to pay $300,000 per player in development charges, assuming new owners are found to rescue the club.
Joondalup president Steve Wheatley said his club had stepped up moves to recover the development fees when Williams made his Portsmouth debut in August. "I'm hoping that they won't let the club (Portsmouth) go to the wall and we'll still be able to recover this money," Wheatley said. Several former Joondalup players are currently plying their trade overseas including brothers Rhys (Middlesbrough), Ryan and twin Aryn (Burnley) Williams, Chris Herd (Aston Villa) and Shane Lowry (Millwall). Wheatley said Joondalup were planning to use the money to complete ground improvements.
UWA-NEDLANDS MARCH ON TOWARDS PLAY-OFFS
UWA-Nedlands took a giant step towards a surprise quarter-final appearance by bringing down ECU Joondalup 2-0 in the early game at Percy Doyle Reserve. Jake Mann put UWA into an early lead with Steve Purton doubling their advantage from the penalty spot on the hour. Any hopes Joondalup held of a late revival were dashed soon after when Rob Draper was sent from the field for a second yellow card. The win propels to the top of Group A and needing a single point from next week’s game with Quinns FC, who have lost two out of two, to progress to the Night Series play-offs.
Post-game, UWA coach Kevin Burton was clearly thrilled with his teams’ first two State League performances. “It’s pretty exciting for our player group to be in this position and now we must prepare for another challenge next week … these are moments you just want to savour without a doubt,” he said. “We were pleased to back up last week’s result against Sorrento with another hard fought win. Our defending was solid and we kept possession well in second half. John McGlynn and I have assembled a good squad and, hopefully, we will continue to improve as the competition progresses.”
Jon Higgins forced a smart save from Kevin Towers as Joondalup made clear their intentions early. Unfortunately, the gloss was taken off that bright start by poor defending as Michael Towers booming clearance was latched onto by Mann, who shrugged off Dale McCulloch before slotting under oncoming goalkeeper Andy Banks with just 6 minutes played. Joondalup quickly resumed the attack but Higgins flashed wide from distance and Scott Blackmore’s free-kick was met by a sharp save from Towers. On the stroke of half time, McCulloch had an opportunity to atone for his earlier slip but somehow headed high from Higgins’ free-kick.
A slow start to the second half was punctuated on the hour by the games’ second goal, Purton keeping his cool to slot past Andy Banks from the penalty spot after the ball clearly struck Aaron Maplestone on the arm. This stung Joondalup back into life but Robert Croft slammed into the side netting and Maplestone lifted just high of the crossbar from long-range. The defensive approach employed by UWA over the closing stages led to increasing frustration within the Joondalup camp and with fifteen minutes to go Draper received his marching orders, ending his teams’ chances of clawing their way back into the game.
SIX OF THE BEST AS SORRENTO GIVE THEMSELVES HOPE (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
Sorrento kept alive their feint hopes of qualifying for the Night Series quarter-finals by thrashing Quinns 6-0 under lights at Percy Doyle Reserve. Goals inside the first ten minutes by returning midfielder Glen Thomas and Gulls captain Steve McDonald set the tone for a one-sided encounter. Surprisingly, it wasn’t until the second half that the scoreline blew out with Rudi Coetzer putting the ball past his own goalkeeper after which Darcy Cosgrove, Michael Aspin and veteran Jamie Harnwell found the back of the net.
Thomas, who recently re-joined Sorrento after a spell with Western Knights, took just seven minutes to make an impact by side-footing in McDonald's nod down. The young Quinns backline were finding it difficult to keep tabs on McDonald and just two minutes later the versatile big man headed in a Shaun Timmins cross to double the Gulls advantage. Anthony Cochrane continued to be a man under fire, the Quinns goalkeeper saving from Timmins, Gurovski and Ryan Pearson. Quinns enjoyed a little spell of their own towards the end of the half with John McNeil and Adam Buckley testing Todd Ross from distance.
Sorrento’s third goal came via an unlikely source, Coetzer turning Aspin’s low cross into his own net on the hour. Cosgrove had been on the park just four minutes when he brilliantly curled the ball in from 22-metres. As the game moved into the final ten minutes Sorrento put their foot down by adding further gloss to a commanding performance. Timmins deep cross was side-footed in by Aspin seven minutes from the end, with Harnwell poking in Pearson’s cut-back in stoppage time to wrap it up.
SPOT ON SWAN GET THE POINTS (with Kelechi Osunwa, Football West)
Swan United’s quest for a Night Series quarter-final appearance gained momentum with a 3-0 defeat of Fremantle United in the twilight fixture at Hartfield Park. John Monterosso sent Swan on their way with a first half penalty conversion but it wasn’t until late in the game that Trent Wood doubled their lead, also from the spot with Tom Shepheard sealing the win in stoppage time.
The first half was largely devoid of genuine chances on goal with neither side displaying the authority required in the final third of the park. In fact the crowd were made to wait until the 34th minute for any meaningful action when referee Gabriele Merlacco pointed to the spot following Connor Shaw’s shirt pull on John Monterosso, who picked himself up to slot past Peter Wile for a one-nil lead.
Will Pender was denied an equaliser by Jordan Howell’s superb diving save as Fremantle took the game up to their opponents after the break. With the port side pushing forward in numbers, the were on several occasions caught on the counter attack and breathed a collective sigh of relief when nothing came of a break away lead by Mark Mirado. The game was turned on its head in 77th minute when Tim De Souza his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
The points were made safe three minutes later when substitute Wood scored from the penalty spot after his explosive run was halted by a desperate challenge from Shaw. The icing was put on Swan’s cake two minutes into stoppage time when Brendan Knox opened up the defence with a mazy run to present Shepheard with an easy goal. Swan’s next assignment has them up against Western Knights next week in a winner-take-all contest where the prize is a spot in the tournament’s last sixteen.
KNIGHTS CHARGE AWAY WIN NUMBER TWO (with Ilija Mihalj, Football West)
A scintillating first-half display laid the foundation for Western Knights 4-0 demolition of a ten-man Forrestfield United tonight at Hartfield Park. An exquisite display of one-touch passing and clinical finishing ensured the game was ended as a contest with Callum Roberts, Calum O’Connell and Luka Jukic netting before the interval with Stuart Montgomery following suit after the break. “They made us work hard, especially in the second half,” said Jukic. “We played really well in the first half but I think after the red card (to Joe Ives) they were better prepared defensively and we couldn’t break them down. It was good to get another clean sheet though.”
The Knights were direct from the off with Ivan Zuvela placing high and Roberts wide in the first few minutes. Roberts was rewarded in the 10th minute when, after dispossessing Craig Anderson, he slotted past Luke Woodfin to open the scoring. Roberts was also involved seven minutes later, playing a neat one-two with O’Connell who skilfully finished into the net. Forrestfield were lucky not to fall further behind to Ethan Levitt’s 27-metre screamer which was deflected just wide. Chances flowed freely for the Knights and on 36 minutes Jukic struck at close-range after a mazy run through the middle of the park by Montgomery.
Forrestfield’s night went from bad to worse just four minutes after the interval when midfielder Ives was given his marching orders for handling David Annall’s goalbound header on the line. Up stepped Montgomery to fire home the spot-kick low and hard to Woodfin’s left to increase the difference to four goals. Woodfin prevented any increase to that on the hour with a solid stop to thwart Annall, who probably should have converted Jukic’s in-swinging free-kick. The closing stages were largely uneventful as the Knights secured their second successive clean sheet, eliminating Forrestfield from the tournament in the process.
RISDON REWARDED WITH NEW GLORY DEAL
Young defender Josh Risdon is hoping his decision to sign a new contract with Perth Glory can help him to fulfil a long-term ambition to make it as a professional footballer overseas. Glory announced late last week that Risdon had signed a new two-year contract with the club, which will keep him in Perth until the end of the 2013/14 A-League season. 19-year old Risdon has earned rave reviews from coach Ian Ferguson in establishing himself at right-back vacated by Scott Neville, who suffered a long-term injury early in the season.
Risdon is hoping to continue his improve over the next two seasons before trying his luck abroad. "I want to make my name in the A-League and get a few seasons under myself here because I think I need to be more experienced before I go overseas," Risdon said. "I'm really happy to be where I'm at and I'm really enjoying my football ... obviously it's great to sign with the club for another two years. My dream has always been to play overseas so once I get a bit older I would like to look overseas and see how things go over there."
Ferguson has been delighted with Risdon's effort this season and predicted he would develop well over the next few years. "In the games that he's come in and played he's been outstanding. He's a good tackler, he's strong, he's got good distribution and he's a fantastic prospect for the club," the Glory coach said. "(Young players like Risdon) have got to make sure they're doing well in this league if they want to go onto the bigger level. If he can do this consistently I believe he'll go onto a higher grade of football."
PERTH PREVAIL IN SEVEN-GOAL THRILLER
Defender Craig Simpson popped up three minutes from the end to snatch Perth SC a hard-fought 4-3 victory over Dianella White Eagles in this evenings’ early clash at Dorrien Gardens. Andrew Kiir netted twice to send Dianella into the break 2-1 up, the hosts reply coming via Josh Pereira. A second half brace from David Onoforo was followed by Spiro Nenadic’s equaliser, and it looked like staying that way when Simpson decided the tie. “It’s nice to score, and even better when it’s a winner late,” said Simpson, who saw plenty of room for improvement in his teams’ performance. “We made it hard for ourselves in the end; we made two stupid mistakes and were punished, so we have to improve.”
After a relatively uneventful start, the game burst into life in the 22nd minute with Kiir’s first goal, the attacker taking possession on the edge of the 18-yard box to slam an unstoppable shot past goalkeeper Luke Martino. Perth returned fire four minutes later with a similarly stunning strike, this one from long-range by Pereira. The thrills continued with Dianella regaining the lead on 27 minutes, Andreas Theodosiades crossing to the back post where Kiir fired in from 7-metres. Matt Battigelli prevented Perth from equalising by denying Andreas Oliviera as well as Pereira, while at the other end Kiir’s hesitancy to shoot after rounding Martino cost him a first half hat-trick.
Perth coach Gianfranco Circati rang the changes at the break by bringing on Dom De Felice and Josh Wilkins to terrific effect. A Robert Sciascia cross was met by Onoforo whose header flashed just high then De Felice’s centre crashed into the upright after deflecting off defender Bojan Radinovic. Substitute Dhamon Kalamaris showed Dianella were equal to the task by forcing a smart response from Martino. But it was Perth that were in the ascendency and in the 70th minute James Isaia’s free-kick picked out Onoforo who expertly chested the ball down before lashing into Battigelli’s net.
Onoforo put Perth into the lead for the first time on 78 minutes, Battigelli spilling a Sciascia corner at the feet of the striker who tucked the ball in but only after his initial shot rebounded back off the post. It looked as this stage as through Perth would run away with the game but Dianella had other ideas as two minutes later Nenadic was allowed space to snap past Martino at the back post to make it three-each. With time running out Perth won a corner which Sciascia floated in and at close-range Simpson fired in to steal all the points for his side.
DERBY GOES TO WANNEROO
Wanneroo City picked up their first win of the pre-season by out-shooting Olympic Kingsway 3-0 under lights this evening at Dorrien Gardens. Guy McDonald and Garin Collins had the Roos in a comfortable position at the break with captain Anthony Jones sealing the result to give coach David Tough his first win with the club. “It was a good performance tonight, we were missing a number of players last week (against Dianella White Eagles) so to get some of our players back gave us a better shape,” said Tough. “It was great to get a clean sheet too. We’ve worked hard on our defence and I was pleased tonight. It now sets up a big game for us against Perth SC next week.”
Kingsway settled quickly to carve their first opening on 10 minutes when Oliver Forster’s shot was superbly saved at point-blank range by Brynn Hindley. The importance of that save became evident five minutes later when Wanneroo hit the front, Jake Benson-Cooper threading a pass to the back post which McDonald blasted past Jordon Franken. An attack-focus contest had both teams go close, David Ashworth’s goalbound shot was blocked by Jones and Franken pushed wide a strike from Rowdy Yates. Wanneroo doubled their lead five minutes from the break when Collins brilliantly curled a free-kick over the defensive wall and past a helpless goalkeeper.
The second half was only a few minutes old when Elliott Rose burst inside the 18-yard box only for his low attempt to be blocked by Hindley. The result was put beyond doubt in the 52nd minute with Jones firing in at close-range after Benson-Cooper beat two opponents and picked out his captain from the bye-line. Nick Timmings was unlucky not to score another for Wanneroo with Aaron Lickass clearing his shot from on the goal line. Kingsway should have scored a consolation goal when referee Taz Paraskevas awarded them a stoppage time penalty, however, Hindley guessed correctly to keep out Ashworth’s low spot kick.
MORLEY NO MATCH FOR RAMPANT BALCATTA (with Bianca Redding, Football West)
Balcatta scored their second big pre-season win in a week by thumping Morley Windmills 6-0 at Wotton Reserve. Daniel Micevski and Steve Burton each netted twice with summer signing John Thornley and team captain Adam Tong also chipping in with goals. “It might sound like a bit of a cliché but it was really a team effort tonight and we didn’t see too many weaknesses around the park,” said winning coach Michael Roki. “The forwards are functioning really well, Moe Atak was outstanding for us and is really making things tick at the moment and bringing a lot of players into the game, and our back line is stable.”
Balcatta meant business from the outset with Burton’s exquisite touch leading to several opportunities for those around him. But it took until the 23rd minute for the visitors to break through, Atak playing a sharp pass through to Micevski whose powerful finish flashed into Steve Grant’s net. Five minutes later Thornley’s fierce shot hit the back of the net with Grant caught off-balance. Balcatta maintained their high pressure game with Burton, Thornley and Micevski keeping Grant on his toes. Atak and Micevski combined again just before the break with the latter’s shot on the run blowing the half-time margin out to three goals.
It was more of the same after the turnaround, solid lead-up play by Tong and Micevski eventually saw the ball drop just in front of goal with Burton scrambling it over the line at close-range. Andy O’Neill attempted to break down Balcatta’s defences but was met by strong resistance from Jovo Pavlovic, and Morley’s desire for a goal was further frustrate by goalkeeper Bobson Koroma who made two saves in quick succession. Burton sent the ball past Grant for a fifth time on 88 minute by converting a penalty. Sixty seconds later Tong’s workman-like performance was rewarded when, after combining with Burton, he fired into the bottom corner to complete the rout.
ASHFIELD WIN PERVERBIAL ‘GAME OF TWO HALVES’ (with Bianca Redding, Football West)
Ashfield claimed their first win of the pre-season by overpowering Joondalup City 4-1 at Wotton Reserve. Steve O’Mahoney scored twice along with Ryan Frisina and Mladen Kovacevic to secure the win, however, coach Matt Caruthers felt his side could have added a few more. “I felt we played better last week against Morley but didn’t get the result, and we probably played worse football tonight but got the result … I guess that’s football,” he said. “I think we could’ve played better and asserted ourselves in the game a bit more.”
It took only 6 minutes for Ashfield’s attacking to reap rewards with O’Mahoney netting at close-range after being picked out at a corner. Ruban Tristo took possession from Bryan Noal and cleverly flicked the ball on to Frisina whose brilliant shot on the turn found the corner of the net for a two-nil lead after 24 minutes. Kovacevic added another five minutes the break with a crisp free-kick which was too good for goalkeeper Willy Powley.
Joondalup showed greater composure after the break, the northern suburbs outfit stringing together some promising moves through midfield and creating plenty of scoring opportunities. Their first arrived after 49 minutes when Noal’s high ball was met by Danny Beattie whose header was kept out by an alert Jonathon Perkins. However, it would be Ashfield that hit the target on 68 minutes through O’Mahoney. Joondalup’s persistence paid off with ten minutes to go, Dave Stapleton heading in their consolation from a free-kick.
YOUNG BAYSWATER SIDE GROWS IN STATURE
Bayswater City moved a step closer towards a Night Series quarter-final appearance by seeing off Fremantle Spirit 2-1 at Macedonia Park. Mundy Toure and Patrick Quinn scored within minutes of eachother midway through the first half for a young and experimental Bayswater line-up with Dimce Taneski getting Fremantle’s late consolation. “The Night Series is to try out people, everybody says the same but then they play their best squads,” said Bayswater coach Mauro Marchione. “I actually (give players a chance) for the young ones to see what kind of effect they have (and) I think they did brilliantly.”
Much of the early possession was with the port side, Taneski forcing goalkeeper Tom Dixon into an early diving save and soon after sending another shot just past the post. Bayswater’s slowly built in momentum and on 20 minutes Toure found a way through the Fremantle defence to score his teams’ first goal. With this Bayswater sparked into life and five minutes later some tidy passing between Ross Cosgrove and Quinn saw the latter extended the gap to two goals. Fremantle’s spent much of the rest of the half on the back foot as Bayswater pushed in search of further goals.
The tempo quickened after the break with Fremantle’s Taneski looking particularly dangerous on the left but a lack of support meant the opposing defence was able to nullify his drives. It wasn’t until the 86th minute the port side got things together, substitute Sam Halifax getting down the right and crossing for Taneski who slammed into the net. Bayswater could have added a third goal two minutes later, Quinn delivering a free-kick into the danger zone where George Nelson got a foot to on the ball only to have Bradley Parfitt scoop it up.
STIRLING IN A STROLL (with Nathan Drudi, Football West)
Phil O’Callaghan bagged a hat-trick to lead Stirling Lions to a 9-1 win over Subiaco AFC in the late game at Macedonia Park. Stirling were far too good for their Division Two opponents across the 90 minutes with Paul Lloyd scoring twice and Anthony Lyons, Gareth McGlynn, Matt Harold and Matty Barlow also on the scoresheet. “Last week I think we had 35 shots on goal for four goals, this week would have been about the same, but we scored more goals,” said Stirling coach Doug Hesketh post-game. “I was very wary of Subiaco because I know some of the players, particularly Jordan Rhodes.”
Lyons required early medical attention but returned to the action to score the opening goal after 14 minutes. And that margin was doubled just three minutes later when McGlynn converted a brilliant through ball from Craig Robson. Although Subiaco struggled to retain possession they did manage to break through on a few occasions with captain Rhodes wasting two good chances late in the period, both being wide of the target. There was no such sloppiness at the other end of the park where O’Callaghan posted his first goal eight minutes from the break.
Subiaco started the second half strongly but, like earlier, they were unable to convert chances into goals. Barlow came off the bench to deliver a perfect cross which O’Callaghan slotted past goalkeeper Marcus Urban on 58 minutes. Lloyd scored his first nine minutes later then Subiaco finally found an avenue to goal via a great strike from Rhodes. Harold stole possession in the 75th minute and weaved his way between two defenders before slotting in an easy goal. The floodgates really opened up in the closing stages as Barlow, O’Callaghan and Lloyd netting in quick succession.
INGLEWOOD EASE PAST GOSNELLS
Inglewood United made it back-to-back Night Series win by accounting for Gosnells City 4-1 at Alfred Skeet Oval. It was a much improved performance from Inglewood, who were forced to dig deep in seeing off Melville City last week. Captain Michael Baczynski and energetic front-man Dannie Richman continued their red-hot form with a goal apiece as Ryan Clark’s pace down the right caused plenty of headaches for the Gosnells defence. James Sammut also found the back of the net along with Miki Vujacic, who showed plenty of promise in his twenty minute cameo off the bench.
It took Inglewood only 13 minutes to assert their authority with Sammutt opening their account. Beau Geerlings was superb between the posts for Gosnells but was unable to prevent Baczynski from doublinghis teams’ lead eleven minutes out from the break. Gosnells’ best chance of the game came soon after half-time when Allan Carroll’s glancing header flashed past the target. Richman’s tireless efforts were rewarded with Inglewod’s third goal in the 54th minute. Vujacic put the icing on the cake with a brilliant free-kick eight minutes from the end.
KENDALL GRABS MELVILLE A SHARE
Division Two side Melville City came from a goal down to snatch a 2-2 draw with Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval. Clayton Kendall scored the late equaliser to compliment Sasa Slavujevic’s opener and cancel out finishes by Mark McClements and David Caine. "I thought we were a much improved side in the second half," Meville boss Danny Evans said. "You go 2-1 down with 15 minutes to go and you think it's going to be one of those days, but excellent performance from the guys to rally and come back. It was very pleasing to get a point, especially going a man down in the latter stages."
The flow of play was all one-way across the first half hour but Armadale time after time wasted opportunities in front of goal. Whether it was the upright, the crossbar or the safe hands of Melville custodian Stewart Dalgarno, things were just not going to plan for the Premier League outfit. Melville were threatening on the counter attack and in the 43rd minute the approach paid dividends with Slavujevic tapping in an exquisite long ball. Armadale finally woke up and McClements found an instant response to send the teams into the break at one-all.
The second half followed much the same pattern of the first, Armadale again squandering several good goal scoring chances. The introduction of Alan Darlington gave them greater focus in the final third but it was through a Caine free-kick that the Reds edged in front after 74 minutes. However, their joy would be short-lived as Melville’s fighting spirit came to the fore with Kendall tapping in a well-flighted corner six minutes later. Melville survived the final few minutes a man down after Steve Arnold was given his marching orders for a second yellow card.
GLORY GO DOWN IN SYDNEY
Sydney FC have ended Perth Glory's eight-game unbeaten run by claiming a 2-1 victory at the Sydney Football Stadium. Brett Emerton punished some wasteful finishing by the visiting team by scoring Sydney's opening goal before setting up Bruno Cazarine for their second. Billy Mehmet made it interesting when he came off the bench to pull a goal back for Glory with five minutes to go. "All of us are very disappointed. I think we played really well in the first half," said Glory coach Ian Ferguson. "I'm just disappointed in the manner that we gave away goals." Despite the loss Glory remain fourth on the table.
Glory dominated the first half with midfield trio Steve McGarry, Liam Miller and Jacob Burns forcing Sydney to spend much of the period in their own half, however, the visitors failed to turn chances into goals. Just a minute was on the clock when McGarry got off their first shot but Sydney countered quickly with Joel Chianese threatening. Glory's best chance of the period came in the 23rd minute, Mile Sterjovski breaking forward after winning possession to cross into the 18-yard box where Travis Dodd's first time strike was brilliantly kept out by Ivan Necevski.
Sydney were more aggressive after the break and would have taken the lead in the 48th minute if not for Josh Risdon's goal line header which kept out a curling corner from Scott Jamieson. The home side needed just another six minutes to take the lead, Karol Kisel chipping to the back post where an unmarked Emerton thumped the ball into the back of the net. It became two-nil after 72 minutes thanks to Cazarine, who powered Emerton's dinked cross in for his seventh goal of the campaign. Glory rallied and in the 85th minute Mehmet slotted in after getting on the end of a Dean Heffernan ball.
O’BRIEN AT THE DOUBLE FOR GLORY YOUTH
A last minute strike from Harry O'Brien has handed Perth Glory Youth a 2-1 victory over Sydney FC in a spirited encounter at the Sydney Football Stadium. The visitors spent much of the first half defending but led at the break after O'Brien scored against the run of play. Sydney suffered another setback midway through the second period when Daniel Petkovski was red carded, however, the Sky Blues drew level four minutes later when Jason Madonis scored from close range. But it would be O'Brien that had the final say when he snuck a driving shot past Sydney custodian Ryan Norval at the death.
Blake Powell twice called goalkeeper Lewis Italiano into the early action as Sydney enjoyed the better of general play. Chances were few and far between for Glory Youth with their best coming when Ndumba Makeche latched on to a lovely through ball but sprayed across the face of goal. Glory was dealt a blow on the half hour with Jesse Makarounas forced out of the game by an ankle injury. The hosts' failure to convert two good chances leading into the break was punished by O'Brien, who exploited some tired defending to score from close-range in the 43rd minute.
Jack Clisby almost doubled the visitors' advantage soon after the restart with a powerful strike, while Sky Blues captain Jared Lum came agonisingly close to equalising on the hour with a powerful effort that sailed just wide. Sydney's hopes appeared to nosedive when Petkovski was dismissed on 65 minutes after becoming entangled with Makeche. But instead of drop their heads, Sydney now sparked into action and four minutes later Madonis calmly slotted in the rebound from a Caleb Rufer shot which Italiano blocked. It looked like the game would end one-each when O'Brien snatched victory with his second goal.
GIANT LEAP FOR BRAVE YOUNG (by Jonathon Cook, the ‘West Australian’)
A minor change to Perth Glory's squad for today's A-League game against Sydney will represent a major step for the individual elevated to the first team. Goalkeeper Neil Young will take his place on the bench for the first time since the opening match of the season but is unlikely to be called into action at the Sydney Football Stadium. Danny Vukovic is Glory's undisputed number one and only injury to the incumbent will require Young to pull on his gloves as Glory aim to extend to nine games their club-record unbeaten run. The 32-year-old's inclusion in the squad represents a milestone for a player whose career was hanging by a thread just a few months ago.
Young's fight started in 2010 - when he had his large intestine removed in life-saving surgery - and continued this season when an intestinal blockage forced him to have an operation for the seventh time. The battle had taken its toll but Young has fought his way back to fitness. "I've loved this club for a long time and I just want to play and do well for them," Young said. "The boys are playing well and winning games and it's great (watching) but there's nothing better than being out there." Young's inclusion is the only change to the squad after coach Ian Ferguson opted to stick with the players who breezed past Gold Coast United 4-0 on Monday night.
FLOREAT PUT SIX PAST SPIRIT (with Bianca Redding, Football West)
Floreat Athena put a week of turmoil behind them by smashing Sunday League side Southern Spirit 6-2 under lights at Litis Stadium. Liam Boland scored twice with Bobby Wilson, Ludovic Boi, Mark Pritchard and substitute Chris Barbas also on the scoresheet in a polished performance highlighted by the exquisite skills of summer recruits Boi and Spencer Harris. "It's all games to us. It doesn't matter who we are playing, we always just try to play our game and try to implement the things that we have practised in training and talked about during the week," said winning coach Chris Barbas.
A disjointed start to the game had hot teams employing long ball tactics to very little benefit or effect. Floreat were enjoying the better of possession but neither Liam Boland nor Mark Zagami were able to capitalise on early openings. Controversy erupted in the 14th minute when Johnny Ferreira's mis-timed tackle was met with a hostile reaction from Kyle Moran, leading referee Kevin Taylor to red card both players. Spirit carved out their first real chance eight minutes later with Aaron Bahadori's attempt from the top of the 18-yard box drifting over the crossbar.
Floreat rebounded strongly to take a 28th minute lead, Mike Lawson delivering a deep cross which Boland headed it over goalkeeper Glen Sheldon. Felim Rugel and Bahadori responded with some smart play to see the ball back in the Spirit goalmouth but the pair were consistently outnumbered by a well-organised defence. Floreat were unlucky not to go two-up through an own goal, Sheldon tipping John Morton's deflected header away from his net. But their luck ran out six minutes from the break with Wilson nodding in from a corner.
The margin was increased two minutes into the second half when Boland slammed into the back of the net after being awarded a dubious penalty kick. Floreat continued to dominate with Lawson, Pritchard, Boi and Boland combining to find the gaps in a loose defence. Against the run of play Spirit pulled a goal back in the 63rd minute, Rugel firing over the head of young 'keeper Michael Craggs. This was met with an immediate response from Floreat with Boi skilfully firing in on the turn after being found by Wilson's long ball.
Pritchard broke through in the 69th minute to add himself to the scoresheet with a lovely dipping shot which found the top left corner. After a period of midfield possession, Floreat added a six goal as Boland fed Barbas who finished by slipping past Sheldon on 85 minutes. Bahadori reeled in the gap two minutes later by sending Craggs the wrong way from the penalty spot after a foul by Harris. However, it was little more than a consolation goal for the visitors had done well to keep check on a rampant Floreat line-up for much of the 90 minutes.
NIGHT SERIES PREVIEW
Premier League newcomer Bunbury Forum Force takes on Rockingham in tonight’s opening Night Series game at Dalmatinac Park. Although he’d like to get a win, Rockingham coach Steve Robinson says the game is not about getting a result for his team. “I want the players to relax and enjoy the experience, I’m not overly concerned at this stage with the result,” said Robinson. “Bunbury are a good side and I am hoping that we can at least compete against them and give them a game.” The late game features host club Cockburn City and Mandurah City (8.30pm).
There’s also a couple of interesting games at Litis Stadium on Friday, starting with Canning City against Shamrock Rovers (6.30pm). Canning leaked ten-goals in last weekend’s hit-out and there’s no doubt coach Richard Francisco will be looking for a much improved performance from his defensive unit against a Shamrock side gunning for win number two. It’s been a week Floreat Athena would much rather forget and what better way to do that than claim victory against Southern Spirit (8.30pm) and take another step towards defending their Night Series crown.
Saturday’s games at Macedonia Park appear on paper to be one-sided affairs with Bayswater City tipped to account for Fremantle Spirit (6.00pm) and Stirling Lions expected to meet little resistance from Subiaco AFC (8.00pm). Gosnells City are confident of getting more than the point gained last time out when they face Inglewood United (6.00pm) on the opening fixture at Alfred Skeet Oval. Armadale will need to be on their toes in the late game against new Division Two outfit Melville City (8.00pm).
Balcatta coach Michael Roki won’t be taking anything for granted when his team faces Morley Windmills at Wotton Reserve (8.00pm). “It would be a mistake to under-rate Morley after watching their spirited draw with Ashfield on Sunday,” said Roki. “Salv (Todaro) has his lads playing quite solidly and they will definitely be better off for their game, which was a lot more physical than our match with Joondalup City. Complacency on our part after a comfortable win is also a potential danger for us.” The early game pits Ashfield with Joondalup City (6.00pm).
The action at Dorrien Gardens gets underway with Perth SC against Dianella White Eagles (6.00pm). “Playing against Perth is a great opportunity for us to test ourselves against the champions on their home ground,” said Dianella coach Jamie Goodman. “The Perth side is full of quality players who can score goals so we might need to take a leaf out of Kingsway’s book and be prepared to get bodies in the way and battled hard for 90 minutes.” Kingsway Olympic and Wanneroo City (8.00pm) come together in the late game with both teams hopeful of opening their pre-season account.
Sunday’s round has ECU Joondalup matching skills with UWA-Nedlands, who are fresh from upsetting Sorrento, at Percy Doyle Reserve (5.00pm). “I was very impressed with UWA last week. When there is the type of David v Goliath clash, Goliath sometimes becomes complacent and we can’t do that on Sunday,” said Joondalup coach Paul Simmons. The late action at Percy Doyle Reserve has Sorrento squaring off with Quinns (7.00pm). Hartfield Park hosts Swan United verses Fremantle United (5.00pm) followed by Forrestfield United against Western Knights (7.00pm).
FLOREAT ROCKED AS FOUR WALK OUT
Four senior players have split with Floreat Athena in what has been a tumultuous few days for the Premier League club. The sudden departures of captain Julian Madaschi and goalkeeper Alex Dunn along with siblings Paul and Michael Van Dongen has stunned Floreat’s loyal supporters, many of whom are struggling to recognise their team after a summer of upheaval. In the past few months Floreat have lost more than a dozen players, amongst them James Isaia, Calum O'Connell, former player-coach Ante Kovacevic, Miki Vujacic and Damien Catalano.
Dunn, who played juniors for Floreat, was first to jump ship last Friday by accepting an offer to join Perth SC, a move which had been rumoured for a number of months. The Van Dongen boys split from Floreat after training on Tuesday and Madaschi, who also came up through Floreat’s juniors ranks, followed suit the next morning with all three players understood to be disillusioned with happenings at the club. And rumour has it there could be further bloodletting on the horizon with several remaining players considering whether Floreat is where they want to be this winter.
BABALJ UNHAPPY WITH MELBOURNE'S FALL FROM GRACE
Melbourne Heart's Eli Babalj is unhappy with both the form of his team and himself ahead of Saturday's clash with Newcastle Jets. When the New Year rang in Melbourne were sitting second on the A-League ladder, just two points behind leaders Central Coast Mariners, but a seven game winless run has slipped them down to fifth ahead of tomorrow's clash with Newcastle Jets. "2011 was good, 2012 has been disappointing because we haven't won yet," Babalj said. "We need to fix that and win on Saturday against Newcastle, which is a big game, sitting sixth and fifth."
Melbourne have scored just five in their last seven games and Babalj, who has not found the back of the net since early January, acknowledges he needs to shoulder some of the blame. "I'm not happy with the tally I've got so far but I guess I'll just have to work on it and hopefully the chances come and I take them as they come," Babalj said. "If I can score my goals and help the team to the playoffs, that's even better, but the team finishing in the playoffs is priority number one."
Babalj has the utmost of respect for Gary Van Edmond, whose Newcastle team are shooting for three wins in a row this weekend. "He's been a good coach for me, one of the best that I've had so far in my career," Babalj explained. "He helped me a lot at the AIS and I think I've got a good relationship with him but that's going to be put to the side when we play on Saturday. Hopefully I can score one against him but he's doing well at Newcastle at the moment. They're playing the game he really wants to implement there."
FREMANTLE “WILL SURPRISE” IN 2012: TANESKI
Fremantle Spirit’s days of languishing towards the bottom of Division One are over according to Ljupco Taneski. Appointed head coach of the port side just under a month ago, Taneski has been busily assembling a squad with the quality and depth to be competitive in 2012. “We will definitely surprise a lot of teams this season, we will not be in the bottom two come seasons’ end,” promised Taneski, whose coaching background includes spells at Balcatta and Dianella White Eagles. “I’m hungry for success, as are the president, committee and players, and I feel we will wake this sleeping giant once again.”
The challenges Taneski has already faced would have made some walk away from the job. “The club really is starting from scratch in terms of the senior set-up,” he explained. “An invitation was extended to all players from last season but only three came back, and two of those have already moved on to other clubs. In a way this worked in my favour as I’ve been given a clean slate, I can choose what players I want to bring to Fremantle and shape the squad the way I want. I’m looking to add a few more experienced players to strengthen the team overall.”
Taneski has been pleased with how Fremantle are progressing towards the season proper. “Considering we have only trained four times as a squad of 14, I am more than happy with how things are shaping up,” he said. “We are young, naturally fit and underestimated by everyone. We have a nice group of players that are hard-working and like to listen to the coaching staff. The signing of players like goalkeeper Kenny Ftynogiannis, Chris Beech, Dimce Taneski, Zoran Vrteski and Diego Garcia will provide the backbone for our young squad.”
Fremantle kicked off the year last weekend with a 4-0 loss to Stirling Lions, a result Taneski was “extremely happy” with. “A lot of people came to the game expecting Stirling to walk all over us but we proved them wrong by playing some decent football,” said the coach. “I was proud of the team and I feel we probably deserved a goal, we did break Stirling down at times. Overall it was a good spirited performance, we defended fairly well against a side that will be in the Premier League’s top five this season.”
There’s more top flight opposition for the port side this Saturday in the form of Bayswater City. “Mauro Marchione’s teams are always well-drilled and play good football so we will try to make sure they have a hard time making passes in midfield,” said Taneski. “I’m not looking for us to win – I’m looking for another good performance which will take us another step closer to finalising our game plan and building a foundation for the league. We can only put a team out to compete, and we hope to compete again on Saturday night.” Dunn, who played juniors for Floreat, was first to jump ship last Friday by accepting an offer to join Perth SC, a move which had been rumoured for a number of months. The Van Dongen boys split from Floreat after training on Tuesday and Madaschi, who also came up through Floreat’s juniors ranks, followed suit the next morning with all three players understood to be disillusioned with happenings at the club. And rumour has it there could be further bloodletting on the horizon with several remaining players considering whether Floreat is where they want to be this winter.
STERJOVSKI DISMISSES SOCCEROOS RETURN
Perth Glory attacker Mile Sterjovski has no intention of coming out of international retirement to play for Australia in this month’s World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia. Sterjovski’s recent form has prompted suggestions he could be selected by Socceroos coach Holger Osieck for the upcoming game in Melbourne, however, the 32-year old says he has no interest in adding to the 43 caps he gained in a glittering career. “There are plenty of good young players coming through that can do a great job and I am happy with the way my life has gone and the decisions I have made, so definitely not,” he commented when asked about a return to the international arena.
KNEE INJURY ENDS ROSINDALE’S SEASON
The season is over for Balcatta striker Ashley Rosindale before he so much as kicked a ball. Rosindale felt a niggle in his left knee early last year but played on to score a dozen goals as Balcatta finished on top of the Premier League table for the first time. After suffering a recurrence in pre-season training, Rosindale visited a specialist where scans revealed tears to his patella tendon and meniscus. “Both the specialist and surgeon said I will be out for the season,” said Rosindale. “As long as all the rehab goes to plan I will be back around this time next year.”
Rosindale, 26, was philosophical when discussing missing a year of football. “I am really disappointed but it is one of those things that happens to footballers. I have been pretty lucky with injuries up until now so this is just something I have to take on the chin,” he said. “I have my operation coming up in a couple of weeks. After that I will be on crutches for a few weeks before beginning rehab, which means lots of time spent on the bike in the gym and in the pool swimming. I will be focusing on my recovery so I can get back to playing as soon as possible.”
The loss of Rosindale is a big blow to Balcatta’s hopes of building on the minor premiership captured last year. “Anyone who lost Ash from their team would be devastated, just as we all are at Balcatta,” said coach Michael Roki. “Ash is a thinking striker who works tirelessly off the ball as well as when he has it. We will not only miss his goal scoring ability but also his creativity and ability to create opportunity for players around him. He had a great season in 2011 and I’m confident he will come back with great impact once he has fully recovered.”
Although he won’t be part of the on-field action this year, Rosindale is tipping Balcatta to be near the top of the Premier League table come seasons’ end. “We are looking extremely strong at the back having added Shane Nunes and Mark Walsh to the already existing strength,” said Rosindale. “Jason Barerra is returning after the ACL injury that ruled him out for the second half of last season, he brings a lot of creativity to the side. With the attacking players we have from last year plus the signing of John Thornley, who’ll partner Steve Burton up front, we will be extremely dangerous going forward. I can only see more quality football being played and success ahead for Balcatta.”
MCCALLUM REFRESHED FOR ENGLISH ADVENTURE
Midfield ace Collette McCallum is looking forward re-igniting her career in England. After sitting out the recent W-League season, McCallum is feeling refresh and ready to tackle England’s Women’s Super League with Lincoln Ladies. “I’m excited to get into pre-season after having a few months off in the game,” said McCallum, who’ll be joined at Lincoln by fellow Australian international Laura Alleway. “We are training in Majorca, I’m looking forward to that as I haven’t been to Spain in a very long time.”
A quiet year on the international stage prompted McCallum to play abroad. “After we (Australia) didn't qualify for the Olympics this year, I was looking into either studying at university or looking overseas and playing,” explained McCallum. “Laura Alleway, who plays in the Australian women’s team as well, was interested in going too, so we both looked into the UK. Fortunately a few clubs were interested in us. At the end we decided on Lincoln. I’m really looking forward to playing there.”
Although football has taken McCallum all over the world she says leaving family and friends in Perth will be especially difficult this time. “It’s going to be very hard. My sister is pregnant and is 35 weeks so I'm just going to miss the birth of my niece,” McCallum explained. “I will also really miss my family and friends. My partner, who has supported me so much into this decision, is from London so he will be coming over for a bit.”
HERD CLOSE TO RETURNING
Aston Villa midfielder Chris Herd is nearing full fitness after an ankle ligament injury saw him spend two months on the sidelines. The 22-year old started to consolidate his position in Villa’s first eleven with seven consecutive games alongside captain Stiliyan Petrov before succumbing to injury in December. “Herd is making very good progress,” Villa manager Alex McLiesh said. “He is now working one to one with the physio who is putting him through his paces. He is not feeling his injury at all now which is great news and the kid is really positive about getting himself fit again to try and challenge to get back into the team.” Herd recently signed a new three and a half year deal which secures his services at Villa Park until 2015.
DUNN SIGNS WITH PERTH
Perth SC have stepped up their quest for a fourth straight State Champions title with the recruitment of goalkeeper Alex Dunn. Dunn, a former State Schoolboys representative, is in contention to make his Perth debut this weekend after agreeing to move across from Floreat Athena late last week. “Perth are probably the biggest club in WA, their record speaks for itself,” commented the 25-year old ‘keeper. “They are always challenging for trophies and as a player that’s what it is all about, you want to win trophies and be part of a successful team and club.”
Dunn, who’ll replace Victoria-bound Jason Saldaris’ on the Blues list, was preparing to keep goal in Floreat’s opening Night Series game when he was offered a move to Perth. “It wasn’t great timing but it was too good an opportunity to turn down, I know that had I not given Perth a crack I would one day regret it” Dunn said. “It all happened so quickly. I received the call from Perth on Thursday night and pretty much had to make my mind up in one day, had I played for Floreat on Saturday I would have been tied them for the Night Series.”
Having committed to playing for Perth this winter, Dunn is now eager to establish himself as the clubs’ first choice ‘keeper. “I’d like to get into the team straight away but that depends on when the coaching staff to integrate me into the team,” said Dunn. “At Floreat I was first choice, and now I’m at a new club I will have to work even harder for that starting role. I’m sure Luke (Martino) will not give up the gloves without a fight, that competition will bring the best out of both of us.”
Dunn came up through the youth ranks at Floreat and admits leaving the club was possibly the hardest decisions he has had to make. “I had been at Floreat for nine years and formed a lot of great friendships with the fans and people around the club,” he explained. “The thing I will miss the most is the fans. All the amateur boys who come down and support us week in week out are probably the best supporters in the league and that is definitely something I will miss a lot … I’m sure I’ll cop it when Perth plays Floreat in Round One.”
Dunn watched his new team mates from the sidelines when they defeated Kingsway Olympic in the Night Series on Friday. “The team played very well, it should have been more than 1-0 but the Kingsway ‘keeper had a blinder and kept his team in the hunt,” commented Dunn, who is confident Perth will come out on top again when they play Dianella White Eagles on Saturday. “We obviously want to win every game we play but this one is vital, Dianella got a good result against Wanneroo but if we can beat them then it will put us clear top of the group.”
FERGUSON WANTS MORE TIME WITH GLORY
Perth Glory can be an A-League powerhouse but coach Ian Ferguson says he needs a more than year-by-year contracts to make it happen. Ferguson comes out of contract at season's end but is almost certain to be offered a new deal on the back of Glory's eight-game unbeaten streak. However, the Scotsman wants more than just a one-year extension in order to ensure the progress made this season won't be lost. "If I get a new contract, I want a two to three year deal where we can try and take this club forward, where this club is going to be a top-six regular and not a yo-yo club," Ferguson said.
CONTRACT CLAUSE LEAVES COYNE IN LIMBO, AGAIN
History is set to repeat with Sydney FC shying away from allowing Jamie Coyne to play the three A-League games required to trigger the second year of his contract. The 31-year old defender joined Sydney seven months ago after Ian Ferguson declined to give him the one game need to secure another season with Perth Glory. That led to a bitter parting of the ways and it now appears a similar scenario could play out with Sky Blues coach Vitezslav Lavicka opting for Rhyan Grant in the right-back role. Coyne, who remains on the outer for Sunday’s visit of Newcastle Jets, has made 14 appearances this season.
GLORY THUMP GOLD COAST
Perth Glory stretched their unbeaten run to eight games by smashing Gold Coast United 4-0 under lights at Perth Oval tonight. Steven McGarry opened the scoring in the first half with Liam Miller and Travis Dodd widening the gap to three goals before Adama Traore headed into his own net late on. “It was a great, professional performance,” said Ian Ferguson post-game. “It’s always nice to get goals and four tonight … makes the goal difference a lot better.” The result tightens Glory’s grip on fourth place where they trail second-placed Wellington Phoenix by two points, while Brisbane Roar sit just one ahead.
An outclassed Gold Coast looked every bit a team battling for respectability at the bottom of the table, and the margin of victory could have been far greater had Glory made more of first-half opportunities. Jacob Burns had their first attempt on goal after 16 minutes but the captain’s shot cannoned off the crossbar. Two minutes later the hosts went ahead when Steve Pantelidis flicked on a corner to the back post where an unmarked McGarry nodded in. Shane Smeltz missed three one-on-one chances, sending one wide, hitting the post with the second and having the third saved by Chris O’Connor.
Glory flexed their title credentials with another confident second half performance, Miller tapping in from close-range after the visiting defence failed to respond to a Dodd cross. Jonas Salley nearly got Gold Coast back in the game but his header was cleared off the line. The points were made safe on 67 minute when Dodd beat his man at the near post off to head in a Sterjovski corner. And a bad night got even worse for Gold Coast in the 84th minute when Traore woefully miscued an attempted headed clearance to score an own goal.
DE VANNA SIGNS WITH SWEDEN’S LINKÖPINGS
Swedish club Linköpings FC have confirmed the signing of Matilda’s striker Lisa De Vanna. Successful spells in the United States (magicJack) and Australia (Newcastle Jets) have whet De Vanna’s appetite for a return to Europe. "After playing in the WPS in 2011 I decided to play in Europe this year," commented DE Vanna. "I had many inquiries but after talks with Kate Gill, who was in Linköping last year, I decided (to play for the club). She spoke warmly about the organization, the driving force and the facilities in Linkoping, and it convinced me." De Vanna, who has been capped 75 times by Australia, previously played in Europe with English club Doncaster Rovers Belles (2006) and Swedish side AIK Fotboll Damer (2008).
OLYROOS IN TROUBLE
Australia’s hopes of competing at the 2012 Olympic Games are hanging by a thread following yesterday’s 2-0 loss to Uzbekistan on a frozen pitch at the JAR Stadium in Tashkent. The loss leaves the Olyroos at the bottom of their qualifying group, trailing Uzbekistan (8 points), the United Arab Emirates (5 points) and Iraq (4 points). The group winner qualifies directly for London with the second-placed teams from each qualifying groups advancing to a playoff series. Australia must now defeat the United Arab Emirates (22 February) and Iraq (14 March) to extend their record of participating in every Olympic football tournament since 1988.
The Olyroos started strong with Mate Dugandzic and Oliver Bozanic getting early shots on target. Uzbekistan took a 27th minute lead when Oybek Kilichev set-up Kenja Turaev whose long-range shot gave goalkeeper Mat Ryan no chance. Jason Hoffman looked to have an equaliser but was dubiously ruled offside. Mitch Nichols also found the back of the net on the hour but his attempt was denied after the referee blew for an infringement in the lead-up. The game was put to bed by Oleg Zoteev’s sublime volley in the 85th minute. Goalkeeper Mark Birighitti was an unused substitute.
RECORD WITHIN REACH OF GLORY
Perth Glory are eyeing a club record eight-game unbeaten run in the A-League when they tackle cellar-dwellers Gold Coast United tomorrow night at Perth Oval. Ian Ferguson's men have not only turned their season on its head but have also found their goal scoring boots with big wins over Melbourne Victory (4-1) and Adelaide United (3-0) in recent weeks. Shane Smeltz has scored the game's first goal in each of Glory's past three wins, and Ferguson will be hoping the New Zealand international can continue his run against Gold Coast.
Glory's current seven-game unbeaten streak is already their longest since the A-League's inception in 2005, although it is a long way short of the 15-game run without a loss in the 2002/03 National Soccer League season. Their recent revival is in stark contrast to Gold Coast's struggles this season, with Miron Bleiberg's men scraping together just three wins from 17 games, none of which have come in the past month. Making Gold Coast's task all the more difficult is they head west just five days after taking a point off Melbourne Victory in Tasmania.
ARMADALE ENTER NEW ERA WITH VICTORY (with James Wragg, Football West)
A revamped Armadale have started the new season on the right foot, defeating eastern corridor rivals Gosnells City 4-2 at Alfred Skeet Oval. Alan Darlington proved lively up front with two goals while fellow new signings Allan Claxton and David Caine also got on the scoresheet. “The first 20 minutes we played really well then we started to get a bit too comfortable having too many touches on the ball and doing things we don’t want to do,” said Reds coach Lee Bamber. “Second half we warned the boys that they would come out and put us under pressure which they did and we didn’t deal with it for 15 minutes. Then when we finally got it sorted we settled down and were comfortable again.”
It only took Armadale 4 minutes to open up the visiting defence, Ravi Kuppusamy’s shot was saved by Adriano D’Alo who was helpless as the onrushing Claxton sent the loose ball over the line. That lead was doubled on 16 minutes when Gosnells were caught napping at a speculative long ball which Kuppusamy gathered and squared for Darlington to tuck in. Gosnells found themselves three goals down six minutes later, Caine applying a clinical finish after getting on the end of Kuppusamy’s neat flick. Paul Harvey was presented a golden opportunity to reduce the deficit but failed to connect with an inswinging cross from the right. Darlington had the ball in the net again just before the interval but celebrations were cut short by an offside flag.
Gosnells got themselves back into the contest son after the restart, Ian Maguire running at the defence from near the halfway line before finishing expertly past Cyril Sharrock. Armadale’s lead would have been further deduced had Jamie Burns kept his composure instead of blazing high, while Paul Harvey failed to make anything of a couple of chances in the space of 30 seconds. Those misses were punished when Darlington swooped in at the far post to smash in Armadale’s fourth after Blake Adams parried shot fell kindly for the striker. Gosnells found their elusive second goal in the 83rd minute, Harvey lofting the ball into the path of Darren Gamble who lifted over Sharrock and into the net.
MELVILLE GIVE INGLEWOOD A SCARE (with James Wragg, Football West)
There were goals aplenty at Alfred Skeet Oval where Inglewood United surviving a spirited comeback to see off Division Two newcomers Melville City 6-4. Michael Baczynski, Danny Richman and Brendan Craig scored twice each as John Brennan (2), Sasha Slavujevic and Keith Nolan tested the integrity of their top flight opponents. Inglewood started the brighter with close through David Perich and Craig each going close to grabbing the games’ first goal. However, against the run of play Melville struck first through Brennan, who pounced on a poor clearance to loft effort over stranded goalkeeper Alex Sutton on the quarter hour.
Stung into action, Inglewood were quick to re-establish control. Baczynski capitalised on a mistake by ‘keeper Stuart Delgarno to tap in from close-range, and a fast break in the 20th minute caught Melville napping as Ryan Clark set-up Richman who netted at the second opportunity after his initial shot came back off the woodwork. The gap was further widened in the 32nd minute, Richman benefiting from the great reaction of Craig who slid the ball back to him after his first shot was saved. Jason Colli’s pinpoint cross provided Richman a chance to complete his hat-trick but the midfielder’s diving header looped up over the crossbar.
Melville pulled a goal back soon after the break with Slavujevic converting a penalty awarded for David McNally’s foul on Lee McKay. Like earlier, Inglewood responded through Baczynski who netted his second after being picked out brilliantly by Ryan Clark. Melville’s never say die attitude saw them claw another goal straight back with Brennan tucking in the rebound from Sutton’s acrobatic a save to a fierce Simon El Chami shot. The game was level again just after the hour courtesy of Nolan, who was allowed to run unchallenged through the defence before expertly finishing into the bottom corner.
Unfortunately for Melville they were unable to hold over the closing stages as Inglewood piled on the pressure. There was more than a touch of controversy in the 63rd minute when Craig thumped in his first goal despite it appearing Delgarno had control of the ball. Eleven minutes later Craig capped a fine individual performance by putting the result beyond doubt, the winger running unchecked through the middle and onto James Sammut’s brilliant through ball to tucked it into the corner of Delgarno’s net. Both teams created several further half-chances before referee Phil Traianedes brought proceedings to an end.
MORLEY, ASHFIELD END LEVEL
The points were shared in this evening’s late game at Wotton Reserve where Morley Windmills played out a 1-1 draw with neighbouring Ashfield. Ashfield were first on the board through Ryan Frisina with Matty Wood bringing the sides level after the half hour. There were chances at both ends of the park in the second period but with neither team able to convert each had to settle for a single point. “It was typical local derby, both sides gave it their all and a draw was probably a fair result,” said Morley boss Salv Todaro. “I was pleased with our performance, we’re working on our structure and fitness and we will only get better as the competition goes on.”
An attacking outlook from both teams produced some early chances with Joey Woodin’s shot deflected wide before a Frisina header came with the same end result. However, Frisina wasn’t to be denied and on 18 minutes he finished clinically past Steve Grant from 6-metres after meeting Darryl Warren’s cross from the left. It was very nearly two-nil minutes later, Frisina sent clear by Warren but this time Grant was out quick to spoil. Morley’s equaliser came against the run on play on 31 minutes, Lee Thomas crossing for Wood to volley in from 10-metres, albeit via the crossbar.
Ashfield came out from the break strongly with Okwy Diamondstar’s through-ball releasing Warren who flashed high from 10-metres. Morley went even closer midway through the half when Luke O’Neill’s low strike rebounded off the post after being teed up by Kevin Carmona. The closing stages were end-to-end as both teams went in search of a winning goal. Jake Cornell had a shot saved by Grant and Mladen Kovacevic’s corner was cleared off the line by Simon Wilson while at the other end Luke O’Neill and Andy O’Neill were both thwarted by goalkeeper Brad Eiffe. The final opening came in stoppage time with an unmarked Frisina placing wide.
BIG WIN FOR BALCATTA
Balcatta showed no mercy in handing out an 11-0 thrashing to Division Two side Joondalup City in their Night Series meeting at Wotton Reserve. Steve Burton and John Thornley lead the way with four and three goals respectively, Daniel Micevski helped himself to a brace with Adam Tong and John Migas getting one apiece. “We’ve had a few friendly games and hadn’t had a win so it’s nice to get on the board,” said Balcatta coach Michael Roki. “We not getting carried away with the result, it’s still early but it was nice to see John Thornley settling in and I think he will be a great inclusion for us this season.”
Joondalup goalkeeper Willy Powley was called into action early to save from Micevski, and soon after his opposite number Bobson Koroma scooped up a long-range attempt by Craig Highet. Balcatta started to assert themselves and on 26 minutes Tong released Thornley who stroked confidently past Powley. With this the floodgates opened, Burton firing in the rebound after Powley blocked his penalty kick. Mo Atak laid on second goals for both Burton and Thornley before Micevski fired in on the end of a sweeping move. Thornley completing his hat-trick after good work by Micevski, and a long-range shot from Migas took the difference to seven goals by half-time.
Joondalup’s night went from bad to worse two minutes after the restart when by Highet was issued his marching order after illegally halting Tong’s surge into the 18-yard box. To rub salt into the would Burton sentg Powley the wrong way from the spot. On 65 minutes Micevski firing in his second after getting on the end of a cross from the left by Black, and ten minutes later Burton sent the ball past Powley for the fourth time again further good work by the industrious Micevski. The final whistle could not come soon enough for Joondalup but before that would happen Tong completed the rout by heading in a Micevski cross tot the back post.
TROPHY HOLDERS FLOREAT ENTER DOUBLE FIGURES (with George Tsadilas, Football West)
Floreat Athena opened their Night Series title defence with a 10-0 thrashing of Division One side Canning City at Litis Stadium. New singing Jake Geddes and Kyle Moran each bagged a hat-trick with Ludovic Boi, Mark Pritchard, Bobby Wilson and Callum Fransz also hitting the back of the net in a terribly one-sided encounter. “For us the score-line was irrelevant,” said Floreat boss Chris Barbas. “What was most important is that we went out with a game plan and stuck to it - that was the most pleasing part.”
Floreat settled the better after a scrappy opening to take a 14th minute lead through Boi, who side-footed neatly past goalkeeper James Partridge after Canning had failed to deal with a Mike Lawson cross. Eight minutes later Kyle Moran received a neat flick from Jake Geddes and from inside the 18-yard box chipped deftly into the far corner of the net. Geddes helped himself to Floreat’s third goal on 23 minutes as the hosts asserted their dominance with lengthy passages of possession, increasing the pressure on the Canning rear guard.
The gaps was increased to four goals in the 34th minute after Pritchard’s perfectly executed volley from 26-metres rattled the crossbar and feel at the feet of Geddes, who netted at close-range. Having been on the back foot for most of the half, Canning carved out a good opening in the 44th minute with Simon Correia slipping a through ball to Josh Findlater but his curling shot was off target. Geddes completed his hat-trick soon after to send his side into the break with a five-goal lead.
With the result sealed, Floreat came out for the second period as though it was a training run. Despite the drop in intensity, Pritchard added a sixth goal on 51 minutes with sublime curling effort while defender Wilson also got in on the act after 68 minutes. The closing stages saw Canning run raged as Moran netted his second on 84 minutes and soon after completed his hat-trick with a lovely shot into the top corner with the outside of his boot. Double figures were achieved in the final minutes of regulation time by Fransz.
CONFIDENT OPENING BY SHAMROCK (with Sophie Hawkins, Football West)
Shamrock Rovers began their Night Series campaign with a dominant 1-0 victory over Southern Spirit at Litis Stadium. A well-placed header by Alan O’Mahoney on the stroke of half-time was all that separated the teams after 90 minutes with coach Andy Dickinson saying Shamrock are only just getting warmed up. “We've still got a lot of players who’ve not been involved yet so we’re still working through games, we do a lot of small sided games in training which helps with the fitness,” he said. “But it's always just got to be constant, it’s a long season. I noticed the fitness levels were a bit better but we’re still way off where we need to be.”
After some early nerves, Shamrock found their rhythm and on 13 minutes O’Mahoney had goalkeeper Glen Sheldon stretching to keep out his header. The bulk of first half possession was with Shamrock whose control over the middle of the park was matched by Spirit’s tireless work to restrict entry into the 18-yard box. Shamrock attacker Patrick Byrne was presented a good chance to break the deadlock only to be foiled by another diving save from Sheldon. As the half progressed Shamrock looked to exploit their opponents lack of defensive height and on 45 minutes that ploy paid dividends with O’Mahoney heading in from Ian Stack’s right wing cross.
The second half opened with Shamrock again on the attack but some terrific work by Sheldon ensured the difference stayed at a single goal. The differing fitness levels between the two teams was slowly revealed as the minutes ticked by, Shamrock strengthening their hold over the game as Spirit’s weary legs led to some sloppy tackling. Substitute George Spasojevic was fortunate to earn only a yellow card for a late challenge and from the resulting free-kick Sheldon saved from David Murphy. Gavin Mooney and Byrne could have added some gloss to the scoreline but in the end Shamrock had to settle for a one-goal winning margin.
UWA-NEDLANDS GIVE SORRENTO A LESSON IN FINISHING
State League newcomer UWA-Nedlands pulled off an early season surprise by toppling Sorrento 2-1 in the late game at Percy Doyle Reserve. James Plowman and Steve Purton netted in the first half before Darcy Cosgrove grabbed a late consolation for Sorrento. “We are delighted with the win against a team and club we have great respect for,” said UWA coach Kevin Burton. “Our fitness held up well, we retained the ball well and looked dangerous going forward. It is a great opportunity and privilege to play against teams in this competition and hopefully it will serve us well in our quest to gain promotion.”
The early passages were controlled by Sorrento who could have been two goals the better had Brodie Martin been able to make more of his chances. Against the run of play UWA took the lead on 22 minutes after a well-worked corner saw Plowman volley in from close range following Brad Skea’s back post header. And it should have been two-nil soon after but Roberto Lujan slid his shot just wide. With this Sorrento sparked back into life and Ryan Pearson and Martin both had chances to bring the sides level. A 45th minute counterattack by UWA unceremoniously ended when Plowman was felled by Todd Ross whose next action was to pick Purton’s spot kick out of his net.
Sorrento continued to control the majority of possession after the turnaround but a lack of sharpness in front of goal proved their undoing. This was highlighted by Jared Love’s scuffed effort at a poorly defended corner, while another goalmouth scramble ended with substitute Shaun Timmins dragging wide. They weren’t rewarded until eight minutes from the end when Mike Aspin’s cross was bundled in by substitute Cosgrove. There were some nervous moments for UWA as the clock ticked down, none more so than when Steve McDonald’s header beat goalkeeper Kevin Towers but not the frame of the goal.
JOONDALUP IN A CANTER (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
Paul Simmons commenced his third spell as coach of ECU Joondalup with a 3-1 win over Division Two side Quinns FC this evening at Percy Doyle Reserve. Goals in the space of a few minutes by Jon Higgins and Luke Smith put Joondalup in a comfortable position before Aaron Maplestone looked to have ended the game as a contest just after the break. To their credit Quinns refused to let their heads drop and just before the hour John McNeil reeled in the gap with a well taken header.
New signing David Foster should have put Joondalup one-nil up early but somehow blazed high from 5-metres when he seemed destined to find the net. Quinns replied soon after with McNeil forcing a smart low save from Andy Banks. Higgins broke the deadlock on the quarter hour with a sensational long-range free-kick that kissed the inside of the post on its way in. Three minutes later it was two-nil as Smith timed his run into the 18-yard box perfectly to fire in after good on the right by Robert Croft. A youthful Quinns outfit continued to probe but it was Joondalup that came closest to scoring when Croft lifted over the advancing goalkeeper but wide of the target.
Joondalup extend their lead eight minutes after the internal through Maplestone, who tucked at the second opportunity after Anthony Cochrane blocked his initial shot. Six minutes later Quinns pulled one back, George Mills’ corner evading goalkeeper Andy Banks with O’Neil heading in unmarked from 5-metres. Joondalup had control of the midfield with Higgins at the heart of their best moments. A trademark free-kick by Higgins deflected narrowly wide off the defensive wall as they sought to extend their lead. As the heavy legs started to take their toll on players, Scott Bushby wasted a chance to score Joondalup’s fourth by skewing well wide of the target.
SWAN MAKE THEIR POINT (with James Mooney, Football West)
Tom Shepheard scored at either end of the game to earn Swan United to a 2-0 win over Forrestfield United from the opening Night Series fixture at Hartfield Park. Black and whites coach John O’Reilly was happy with the result but feels his team have some way to go in order to reach their potential. “We could have been a lot more tidier today. There are a lot of things we have been practicing and you can see that they are starting to come together but it’s going to take another week or two to fine tune,” said O’Reilly.
Swan started the game with high intensity and almost had opened the scoring in the 1st minute through Trent Wood’s volley which forced goalkeeper Luke Woodfin into a smart save. As it was they would need to wait on four more minutes for Shepheard to place easily into the bottom corner after an attempted clearance fell at the attackers’ feet. This pattern was to continue throughout the half and although Swan enjoyed the better of possession there would be no further addition to their lead. By contrast, Forrestfield managed very few shots with their best being a Wade Farmer attempt into the side netting.
The roles were reversed after the break which saw a much revitalised Forrestfield now in control. Despite their increased tempo, Forrestfield found it hard to break down their opponents with Julian Kesakoff’s long-range effort that just cleared the crossbar the closest they came to equalising. Growing frustrations led to rash tackles by Farmer and Kesakoff who were duly booked by the referee. Shepheard made the result safe in stoppage time when he punished another failed attempt to clear from within the danger zone.
MIRCO GETS KNIGHTS OVER THE LINE (with Nathan Drudi, Football West)
Western Knights claimed a 1-0 victory over Fremantle United from a fast paced encounter at Hartfield Park. Carl Medica conceded his teams’ performance was not what it should have been, however, the Knights coach was happy to get the win courtesy of Jonny Mirco’s strike shortly before half-time. “It was a patchy performance and there is a lot to work on and hopefully we will improve before the season starts,” Medica commented. “We want to improve our style and formation during the Night Series.”
The early signs were positive for Fremantle whose increased possession produced a couple of good openings for captain Will Pender which he was unable to capitalise on. The Knights began to gain momentum midway through the half and on 40 minutes that was rewarded with Mirco curling a free-kick into the top corner from 20-metres. There were chances at both ends of the park in the second period, Pender went close to equalising with a free-kick while Mirco squandered a golden opportunity to seal the win.
FIVE-STAR COCKBURN SHINE
Cockburn City flexed their pre-season muscle with a resounding 5-2 victory over Rockingham City in the late fixture at Dalmatinac Park. Paul Natale, Jason Godfrey and Euan Grant had Cockburn in a commanding position before Sean Dash pulled one back just after the half hour. Further goals after the turnaround from Chris Smith and Devon Gibson sealed Cockburn the win with Rockingham’s Oscar Thompson netting in between.
Mike Lyons, coach of Cockburn, was pleased with the attitude and work ethic of his players but admits there is still plenty of room to improve. “I thought we started quite well. We went 3-0 up but then I thought we turned off a bit and let them back into the game,” Lyons said. “At 3-1 the next goal was really important and fortunately we got it. 5-2 was a pleasing result and I gave all 14 players a run so they have all had a little bit of fitness tonight.”
Cockburn came out all guns ablaze and with 9 minutes gone Natale converted past goalkeeper Brad Cruickshanks after Terrence Conner was taken down inside the 18-yard box. The hosts lead was doubled when Godfrey pushing the ball over the line in a goalmouth scramble five minutes later, and just before the half hour Grant added their third with his knee. Lively attacker Dash put Rockingham back in the game on 33 minutes when his cross flashed past a flat-footed Dejan Aleksic to make it three-one.
The second half had been underway six minutes when Smith stabbed into the back of the net to seemingly put the game beyond Rockingham. However, the side in green hit back through Oscar Thompson’s curling cross to set up an interesting last twenty minutes. Substitute Marco Aleksic went agonisingly close to bagging Rockingham’s third goal when his shot beat the ‘keeper but drift past the upright. Gibson sealed victory with four minutes remaining with a superb solo effort.
BUNBURY IN A DIFFERENT CLASS
The Premier League’s newest entry, Bunbury Forum Force, gave their year a dream start by dumping Mandurah City 4-1 at Dalmatinac Park. Ashley Young, John Brooks, Steve Howson, Martin Ryan were each on target before Mandurah’s consolation arrived via Darren Broxton. “We’ve been working hard for the last four or five weeks and it was a good performance,” said Bunbury coach Nigel Wilcox. “We wanted to get the game done and dusted in the opening 15 minutes of the second half and everything went to plan.”
Mandurah were out early with Michael Grigo advancing out of midfield and playing into the path of Jeff Bright whose low strike was blocked by Ryan Montgomery. But it was Bunbury that drew first blood on 13 minutes when Ryan was clattered into by Phil Straker, prompting referee AParaskevas to point straight to the spot from where Young sent the Mandurah goalkeeper the wrong way. Genuine goal scoring chances were few and far with the respective defensive units doing well to halt the majority of attacks as they approached the 18-yard box.
The game was settled in the early minutes of the second half with Bunbury piling on three quick goals. On 51 minutes Young chipped expertly over the defence to an unmarked Brooks, who took one touch and knocked the ball past the advancing ‘keeper. Five minutes later Ryan won possession to race down the right before unselfishly squaring for Howson to drill into the top corner. Papa Hpartar should have pulled a goal back but his weak shot from 10-metres was straight at Montgomery.
Ryan extended Bunbury’s lead to four goals by tidily side-footing in from 8-metres after Jamie Tandy’s incisive centre from the right on 58 minutes. Broxton gave Mandurah hope of a late revival by scoring from close-range after Jeff Bright cleverly stepped over a low ball in from the right by Grigo. A towering header by Ryan Townsend paved the way for Hpartar to force a good save from Montgomery, who pounced on the loose ball moments before Jeff Bright arrived. But that would be the closest Mandurah came to scoring again before the referee whistled for the last time.
STIRLING TOO STRONG FOR FREMANTLE
Stirling Lions opened their Night Series campaign with a 4-0 demolition of Fremantle Spirit in this evenings’ early fixture at Macedonia Park. Jason Gavin and Gareth McGlynn had Stirling two goals up by the break after which Mohamed Bangura turned into his own net and Phil O’Callaghan tallied up the hosts fourth of the game. “We’re delighted to win tonight, but they really made it hard for us,” said winning coach Doug Hesketh. “We probably scored too early, and we went a bit flat after that. We made a few changes in the second half and I thought we were better but credit to Freo, they did a good job tonight.”
Barely a minute had passed when Stirling captain Gavin pisted his teams’ first goal, the big defender heading in a well-flighted corner from Irish import McGlynn. Fremantle recovered quickly and soon after Diego Garcia’s powerful shot from the edge of the 18-yard box forced Cory Hugo into saving at full-length. Chances on goal then dried up and it wasn’t until Brad Parfitt tipped over Jamie De Abreu’s 29th minute shot that the game came back to life. Six minutes later referee Phil Traianedes overruled his assistant in awarding Stirling a free-kick, and although Parfitt got a hand on McGlynn’s shot the ball came to rest in the back of the net.
The port side made a strong start to the second period which was six minutes old when Zoran Vrteski’s long ball sent clear Garcia whose shot from 16-metres rose over the crossbar. Stirling were finding it hard to break down their opponents but on 70 minutes they found a way through, De Abreu surging down the right to deliver a low, hard cross which Bangura had the misfortune of turning past Parfitt. It was four-nil just three minutes later when new signings Craig Robson and Matty Barlow combined, the latter crossing from the right to O’Callaghan who made no mistake at close-range.
CATARCIONE AT THE DOUBLE FOR BAYSWATER
Gustavo Catarcione scored twice on debut to lead Bayswater City to a 4-2 victory over Division Two outfit Subiaco AFC at Macedonia Park. Catarcione’s first half brace was complemented by finishes from Joe Yoffe and Paul McCarthy with Subiaco scoring late in each half through Jordan Rhodes and Niall Torpey. Although his side took out the points, Bayswater coach Mauro Marchione was not entirely happy. “I wasn’t happy with the performance tonight; we were too fancy tonight and not productive,” he said. “We missed five or six one-on-one’s with the ‘keeper, which was disappointing. We need to learn how to kill games off, but it’s still early days.”
Subiaco carved out the first real opening of the game when Simon Ralph played in Rhodes but the striker’s shot on 7 minutes flashed wide. Bayswater then began to assert their authority and three minutes later John Kearney lifted high from a David Sesay corner. That miss was forgotten on 18 minutes when Catarcione blasted in at close-range after meeting Sesay’s cross from the right. The margin was doubled sixty second later with Francisco Jorquera sending clear Catarcione who rounded goalkeeper Marcus Urban to fire into an empty net.
There was no let-up from Bayswater and on 27 minutes they conjured a third goal, Joseph Sieh’s delightful through ball putting in the clear Catarcione who again went past Urban but this time his angled attempt hit the post with Yoffe netting the rebound. Subiaco finally found some relief on the half hour, Danny Malcom putting the ball at the feet of Rhodes whose powerful shot from the edge of the 18-yard box flew into Tom Dixon’s net. Bayswater almost added a fourth late in the half through a Kearney free-kick which Urban did well to push around the post.
Bayswater picked up after the break where they left off, however, sloppy finishing robbed them of further goals. Those misses were almost punished on the hour when Scott Wrightson’s free-kick picked out Doug Anderson but his header was well saved by Dixon. Subiaco’s desire for a second goal proved their undoing on 72 minutes when Bayswater substitute Gustavo Marulanda’s defence splitting ball was hit into the net but McCarthy from 10-metres. To their credit Subiaco continued to press and deep in stoppage time Wrightson headed in a deserved consolation.
DIANELLA HIT THE HEIGHTS
A first half brace from Andrew Kiir has given Dianella White Eagles a 2-0 victory over Wanneroo City from this evenings’ late game at Dorrien Gardens. Wanneroo looked sharp early but were unable to penetrate their opponents’ defences before Kiir opened his account midway through the first half. Dianella remained on the back foot but took a stranglehold on a fiery and physical encounter when Kiir doubled their lead just before the break.
Dianella’s defensive mettle was tested early as Wanneroo launched wave after wave of attack on the back of a dominant midfield display. Goalkeeper under siege Matt Battigelli showed great courage to remain on the park following a collision with Brian Cairney that left the Dianella player seeing stars. The game was turned on its head after 23 minutes as Andreas Theodosiadis skilfully set up Kiir, who finished strongly from 15-metres. Dianella broke through again in the 42nd minute when Andreas Theodosiadis’ shot was parried by Brynn Hindley who could only watch as Kiir tucked away his second goal.
Wanneroo emerged from the break determined to fight their way back into the game. Anthony Jones got on the end of a deep corner only for his header to be tipped around the post by Battigelli, who later parried a Garin Collins shot which was eventually cleared by his defence following a goalmouth scramble. Kiir should have completed his hat-trick but placed narrowly wide of the post in a one-on-one with Hindley. In typical pre-season fashion, genuine goal scoring opportunities dried up entering the final third of the game as players in both shirts began to feel the full effects of their first meaningful hit-out of the year.
WASTEFUL PERTH SNEAK THE WIN
Matt Danskin ensured Perth SC made a winning start to their Night Series campaign by scoring the solitary goal in this evening’s 1-0 defeat of a spirited Olympic Kingsway outfit at Dorrien Gardens. Perth were rewarded for their attacking outlook when Danskin fired them in front midway through the first period, and although the side in blue dominated the remainder of the game there would be no addition to the scoreline due in part to Aaron Olow, who stood tall between the posts for Kingsway.
Although both sides created a number of early half chances it was Perth that looked the more likely to score. David Onoforo’s diving header was narrowly wide of the target after good work out wide by Adam Bachiller, who soon after was himself thwarted by goalkeeper Olow. Onoforo set-up Daniel Neiderberger for what seemed like a definite opener only for a Kingsway defender to clear off the line. Kingsway were similarly unlucky not to take the lead when the hosts failed to clear Elliot Rose’s cross and Lewis Flatt’s explosive drive from 25-metres cannoned off the junction of crossbar and post.
Onoforo was featuring prominently every time Perth pushed into their attacking third, ensuring there’d be not a moments rest for Kingsway’s rear guard. Onoforo manoeuvred his way around Olow and cut the ball back to Niederberger who was denied the game’s first goal by Jesse Higgins last ditch challenge. There would be no such luck on 24 minutes when over-lapping fullback Danskin kept his composure to rifle low past Olow in a one-on-one. Although eventful, there would be no addition to the scoreline before the interval due to a combination of rusty finishing, some desperate defending and an outstanding performance by Olow.
The second half was only five minutes old when Kingsway’s plight worsened with the red carding of Jamie Trandos, whose tackle was deemed to have robbed Neiderberger a goal scoring opportunity. The rest of the game followed much the same pattern as the first half with the bulk of the attack held by Perth and Kingsway playing on the counterattack. Olow ensured the final margin was not greater by brilliantly saving from Robert Scaiscia after a neat lead-up down the left. And in the closing moments substitute Adrian Caceres created space but was also unable to get the better of Olow.
THE SEASON STARTS NOW!
The 2012 Night Series kicks off this weekend with games across the full length and width of the metropolitan area. Perth SC and Kingsway Olympic get the ball rolling (6.30pm) followed by Wanneroo City and Dianella White Eagles (8.30pm) at Dorrien Gardens on Friday. “Dianella is going to be a hard game,” said new Wanneroo boss David Tough. “Jamie Goodman always has his teams very fit, well organised and play excellent football, so this will be a great gauge to see where we are at with our fitness.”
Stirling Lions are tipped to take maximum points from their meeting with Fremantle Spirit at Macedonia Park on Friday (8.30pm). “We have the utmost respect for Fremantle and are expecting a tough game,” said Stirling coach Doug Hesketh, who was with Fremantle some years back. “They have brilliant people supporting the club and have produced some of the best players in WA over the years.” State League newcomers Subiaco AFC take on Bayswater City (6.30pm) in the early game.
Chris Barbas takes charge of Floreat Athena for the first time when they commence their Night Series defence on Saturday against Canning City at Litis Stadium (8.00pm). “Both clubs struggled last season and both will be looking for a first up win,” commented Barbas. “We must respect our opponents, and if we stick to our game plan and take nothing for granted then we will come out on top.” The action at Litis Stadium opens with Shamrock Rovers taking on Sunday Premier League champions Southern Spirit (6.00pm).
There are another six games on Saturday with ECU Joondalup taking on Quinns FC (6.00pm), and Sorrento up against one of seven additions to the State League, UWA-Nedlands (8.00pm), at Percy Doyle Reserve. Premier League newcomers Bunbury Forum Force meet Mandurah City (6.00pm) at Dalmatinac Park with Cockburn City and Rockingham City (8.00pm) squaring off in the late game. While at Hartfield Park Fremantle United face Western Knights (6.00pm) before host club Forrestfield United tackles Swan United (8.00pm).
Melville City step out as a State League club for the first time on Sunday evening when they face Inglewood United at Alfred Skeet Oval (5.00pm). This is followed by the eastern corridor derby between Armadale and Gosnells City (7.00pm). “There is a lot of interest in this game, there are a number of people who have had some affiliation with both clubs down the years which should go a long way in creating a lively atmosphere,” said Lee Bamber, whose taken up the coaching reins at Armadale.
Weekend one of the pre-season tournament closes with Balcatta verses Joondalup City (5.00pm) and a derby meeting of Morley Windmills and Ashfield (7.00pm), both games at Wotton Reserve. “We always go out to win, especially when there is some much history between the clubs,” said Ashfield boss Matt Carruthers. “We will be using the game as an opportunity to look at new players and see how well they gel with last year’s group. The boys have been working hard in training and I’d expect that hard work to pay off early.”
BARLOW READY TO ROAR WITH THE LIONS
New recruit Matty Barlow has set his sights on leading Stirling Lions to silverware this year. After catching the eye while on duty for Armadale last winter, Barlow found himself courted by several Premier League clubs during the off-season but felt it was Stirling that best met his goals. “I moved (to Stirling) to be successful (and) the clubs ambitions match mine,” explained Barlow. “I’m desperate to win something this year and I feel Stirling will give me the best chance to do that. All the lads are brilliant, lots of young, determined players which bodes well for our season.”
Making the transition to Stirling has been relatively smooth for Barlow. “Settling in has been easy, Marlon Ramirez, Paul Lloyd and Craig Robson have also made the move from Armadale and I knew Andy Brown and Michael Pugliese from playing in the State team last year,” commented Barlow. “Our squad is strong so competition for places will be high and will bring out the best in all of us. There’s a lot of quality in there too, which is important if we want to win trophies, and the coaches are enthusiastic, which rubs off on us players.”
Barlow started his career with Oldham Athletic, progressing from youth to first team football to make a dozen senior appearances for his hometown club. Loan stints at Stafford Rangers and Stalybridge Celtic lead him joining the latter permanently in mid-2007. Barlow enjoyed three seasons with Stalybridge, playing 135 games and scoring 36 goals, before heading down under in mid-2010 to join Armadale. He turned out for English side Hyde FC during the State league off-season but returned to Armadale last season to score 12 times and gained State honours in the mid-year friendly with Perth Glory.
Stirling coach Doug Hesketh could not be happier to have Barlow on board, especially following Jamie Watt’s move to New South Wales. “Losing Jamie was a blow but to get Matty and (ex-Forrestfield United striker) Anthony Lyons into the squad is great and gives us more options as a team,” said Hesketh. “Matty was upfront with us, he was clear what he wanted to achieve. He wants to play for Stirling and we are delighted to have him, he has a very good playing background, is a player I enjoyed watching last year and he’s a top lad.”
Barlow is looking forward to tonight’s Night Series opener against Division One side Fremantle Spirit. “I’ve never been so excited to get back playing again, the off-season is so much longer than I’m used to,” said the striker. “To be honest, I don’t know much about Fremantle but what I do know is that we have prepared well over the last month or so and are ready to win games. We enjoyed a good friendly win over a strong Cockburn City side recently so all the boys are raring to go and hopefully we’ll have a successful, winning season.”
INJURY SETBACK FOR MATILDAS’ WILLIAMS
Canberra United player of the year Lydia Williams will sacrifice an opportunity to chase back-to-back W-League titles to ensure the longevity of her international career. Williams played through the pain of torn ligaments in her left wrist for the final two months of Canberra’s history making campaign, which finished with a 3-2 victory over Brisbane Roar in last weekend’s Grand Final. “It’s devastating after the season we’ve had ... I’m not sure about everything at the moment but I will most likely do what’s best for my international career,” said Williams, who is lined up to join Swedish club Pitea IF in March.
After talking with club coach Jitka Klimkova and national team boss Tom Sermanni, Williams has opted to play in Sweden before undergoing surgery to pin down the ligaments on her return to Australia, meaning she could miss up to five months of football. “It’s one of the main supporting ligaments in the wrist,” said Williams. “I don’t know of the recovery period at the moment, it just depends on the surgery. The Matildas will have Asian Cup qualifiers in 2014 and not much this year or next year so the focus is to get (the surgery) done now.”
ZUVELA IS HAPPY TO BE HOME
One-time State defender Ivan Zuvela is happy to be back with the Western Knights. Zuvela graduated from junior to senior football with the Knights, making close to 200 appearances and helping the club consolidate their place at the top of the Premier League pecking order. Two years ago he opted for a change of scenery with Mandurah City but following their relegation has returned to the club he started out at. “I absolutely loved my time down at Mandurah but the Knights have always been my team and it feels good to come home,” said Zuvela.
The chance for Zuvela to re-join the Knights came about through his long-standing friendship with coaches Carl Medica and Alex Christie. “I know Carl and Alex well, I played alongside them for a few years and kept in regular contact after they retired,” explained Zuvela. “After last season finished they said they would like me to come back to the club. It was hard to leave Mandurah, I made some great friends there, I always had every intention of returning to the Knights at one stage and this season just seemed like the perfect time.”
Down the years Zuvela has spent many a pre-season as a Knights player but admits he’s surprised by the program Medica and Christie have put in place this year. “We’ve been doing a lot of running, which is a bit of a surprise considering both Carl and Alex were never the biggest fans of pre-season running as players,” chuckled Zuvela. “There’s a real focus on our fitness this year and as the season progresses that will pay off. The boys are enjoying it, and the team spirit is really positive.”
The Knights will play the qualifying rounds of the Night Series at Hartfield Park where they’ll square off with State League newcomer Fremantle United, host club Forrestfield United and Division One power Swan United. “Teams generally lift when they play strong sides and I don’t expect it will be any different when Fremantle, Forrestfield and Swan play us,” commented Zuvela. “I think we’ve got to be particularly careful of Swan, they’ve become something of a bogey team for us over the years.”
Zuvela can see no reason why the Knights can’t go all the way and add the Night Series trophy to that won in 2003. “The focus right now is on the season so getting fit and preventing injury is important, but want to win the Night Series and I don’t see why we can’t,” said the defender. “The Knights are all about winning trophies, we’ve always had the belief and confidence to win things … that’s why the Knights have been such a successful club over the years and will continue to be so.”
POSITIVE START WILL DO MORLEY WONDERS: TODARO
Morley Windmills coach Salv Todaro is keen for his side to get a few runs on the board early by claiming victory from Sunday’s Night Series meeting with neighbouring Ashfield. A first-up win can help establish the benchmark Todaro would like to see carried through the coming season by Morley, who are hosts of Group H. “It’s always good to start with a win as it helps players develop good habits, builds confidence within the team and develops the understanding between old and new players,” commented Todaro.
Morley-Ashfield derbies have a reputation of being fiercely contested and Todaro, who guided Ashfield to the First Division Night Series trophy in 2007 and Balcatta twelve months later, expects Sunday’s game to continue that tradition. “It’ll be a very hard first-up game. We always have very exciting and tight games against Ashfield as the two teams match up quite well with each other,” commented the Morley coach. “By all accounts they have recruited well so it will be interesting to see how they go.”
For the new season Morley have recruited selectively, adding Irish striker Eddie Walsh, midfields Scott Campbell and Steve Cowbrough along with defensive pair Adam Pygrum and Niall Murphy. “I’m very happy with the players that have joined us, they are very good lads who want to help Morley achieve their goals for the year,” commented Todaro. “But I’m also frustrated as we have lost out on a couple of players to other clubs because who by all accounts are paying some silly money.”
Todaro has been pleased with his players approach and attitude to the coming season. “We have a very dedicated bunch of players down at Morley this year, players who have the appetite to work hard and want to improve as individuals and as a team,” Todaro said. “I believe that we have the right calibre of player at the club to succeed. They all have the desire to get stuck in and fight for each other, which are excellent characteristics to have in football.”
While he’d like to put the Night Series trophy in Morley’s cabinet, Todaro is more focused on the season proper. “We always go out to win every game but the way the Night Series has been structured this year, with the Premier League teams included, our goal is to work on our fitness, our systems of play and to incorporate the new players into our way of playing,” said Todaro, whose team also have pre-season dates with Balcatta and Joondalup City. “At this stage of the year it’s all about working towards the League season, which starts in seven weeks.”
WILLIAMS JOINS FULHAM
Teenager Ryan Williams has joined English Premier League club Fulham on the final day of the transfer window. The 18-year old winger will link up with Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer at the London club after completing his move from Portsmouth on a two-and-a-half year deal. “It’s such a big move coming to a Premiership club,” said Williams, who turned out for Fulham’s reserve team against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday. “It’s just really for my footballing education and playing more games, playing for the reserves and stuff like that.” Williams, who played locally for ECU Joondalup before entering Portsmouth’s academy in July 2010, was transferred for an undisclosed fee although initial reports put that figure at £500,000.
BAMBER SETS ABOUT REBUILDING ARMADALE
New Armadale coach Lee Bamber is tackling with gusto the task of guiding the Premier League’s perennial struggler into a new era of consolidation. The eastern corridor club have finished outside the bottom three just once during their seven years in the top flight but Bamber and his assistant Kevin Brophy have assembled a squad which will serve the Reds well this coming season. “We’ve only been training for three weeks but the signs are encouraging on what we’ve seen so far,” commented Bamber. “The squad is coming together slowly with a good mix of youth, experience and a couple of overseas players, so Kevin and I have been happy with start we’ve had.”
Armadale had more than their fair share of problems last year, both on and off the field of play, but that didn’t deter Bamber when he was offer the clubs’ top job. “When we were offered the job we had no hesitation as we were both keen to get back involved in the Premier League,” said Bamber, who coached Inglewood United in 2008 and 2009 with Brophy by his side. “The enthusiasm and the commitment of the committee, and volunteers have been refreshing, and there is a huge potential at Armadale and after discussions with the new committee it was obvious that they had a similar vision to us on how the club should go forward.”
Bamber, 43, has been pleased with what he’s seen of his squad, which includes a number of new arrivals. “Considering we’ve only had six training sessions the boy seemed to be bonding quite well,” said Bamber, whose coaching background includes spells in the Manchester United and Preston North End academies. “The likes of Cyril Sharrock and Matt Bennion have been fantastic in making the new lads feel comfortable in their new environment. On the playing side it will take some time before we start playing the way we would like to as the focus in training has been getting a base fitness level.”
The season officially opens for Armadale on Sunday with a Night Series outing against eastern corridor rivals Gosnells City, a club Bamber knows well. “I’m sure Tony (Maguire) will have his lads fired up, just like he used to when I played under him in the Masters side,” said Bamber. “The Night Series has always been viewed as part of the pre-season program we’ve put in place, but saying that it’s a competitive game and one that we’ll be trying to win. We’re hoping for a big crowd and that we put on a good performance that will encourage more people to come down to Alfred Skeet for future games.”
NEVILLE POPS UP ON SYDNEY’S RADAR
Sydney FC are in the hunt for Perth Glory defender Scott Neville, who comes out of contract at the end of the season. Despite being sidelined by a knee injury since October, 22-year old Neville is one of the A-League’s hottest properties and could even attract interest from overseas. The Australian youth international had an extended trial with English club Portsmouth last year before returning to Glory where his season was ended by a knee injury after just four appearances. He is expected to return to action with the Glory Youth team within two weeks.
BURNS LIFTS THE BAR
Jacob Burns says Perth Glory's ability to comfortably beat Adelaide United on the weekend, despite playing below their best, shows they've come far enough to make a top two spot a realistic aim. A 3-0 win in the City of Churches extended the Glory's unbeaten run to seven games moved the side within two points of second-placed Wellington Phoenix. "I think you've always got to dream big," Burns said. "We've always set our targets high and we're in a position to really push in. We're a point off third and two off second so we really want to get into the top two now."
Glory's performance in Adelaide may have been below par but Burns said there still were plenty of positives to come from the game. "It tells you we've got tremendous character in the team," he said. "When things aren't going right and your back against the wall you've got to have character to stand up and I think we've proven that. Good teams when they're not playing well still get results. The ball has been flying into the back of the net recently, we've scored seven goals in the past two games against quality opposition, and it's just fantastic. The lads have been showing what we want to do all season."
NEW COACHES HAVE FLOREAT BACK ON COURSE: BOLAND
Floreat Athena striker Liam Boland has given new coach Chris Barbas a resounding thumbs-up. Barbas successfully guided Floreat’s youth team to third last term and, following the departure of Ante Kovacevic, has been promoted to the senior coaching role, an appointment Boland views as a step in the right direction. “Chris has come in and made a lot of positive changes, bringing in plenty of young players and a new assistant coach in Glen Grostate,” said Boland. “They were quick to let us know how they want us to play this year and what we are looking to achieve in the near future.”
The summer saw a lot of movement within Floreat’s playing ranks. Although the likes of James Isaia, Calum O’Connell, Damian Catalano, Miki Vujacic and player-coach Ante Kovacevic are no longer at Litis Stadium there places have been taken some by quality players. “Chris has brought in several new players, Bobby Wilson, Ludovic Boi, Sandi Loncar and Jake Geddes to name a few,” Boland commented. “It was important that we strengthen our defence for the coming season and that has been done that with Bobby and Sandi joining us while also keeping captain Julian Madaschi and goalkeeper Alex Dunn.”
Barbas is pleased with the progress his new-look side is making. “We as a club are gelling very well. I’ve put together a new coaching team and all three squads are interacting very well with many younger players mixing with the experience players we have at the club,” explained Barbas. “It was fantastic for the club to be crowned Night Series winners last year, and it would be great to taste early success this time around. We know that will be tough, but with the new series format we will try to achieve our goals and progress through the four stages.”
Boland was one of the star performers in Floreat claiming the pre-season trophy last year, the talented 20-year old hitting the back of the net eight times in six games, a tally which included the only goal of the final against ECU Joondalup. “Everybody at the club enjoyed the success of last season’s Night Series win, and we all want to win it again,” commented Boland. “I believe winning the Night Series would be a huge help to our squad as we are such a young side and it would fill us with confidence for the season ahead.”
Boland went on to score a further 11 goals last season, catching the eye of A-League scouts in the progress. Although he’d jump at the chance to play in the national league – Boland recently trialled with an A-League club based in Queensland – his focus remains firmly on Floreat doing well. “I received great feedback from the coaches at the club,” he said of trials. “The recruiting staff will be keeping tabs on me over the first half of this season and hopefully I’ll be going back for another trial. The first priority for me though is to win the Night Series with Floreat and help Floreat back to the top of the table.”
GLORY DRINK TO VICTORY
Perth Glory boss Ian Ferguson believes drinks breaks during last night's game with Adelaide United were the key to his teams' success. With strong humidity and a temperature above 30 degrees inside Hindmarsh Stadium, match officials made the decision to provide both teams with drink breaks at regular intervals. Glory were quickly thrown onto the back foot as the Reds took control and dominated only to squander a number of clear cut early chances. Shane Smeltz punished the home sides' sloppy finishing before Steven McGarry added a second shortly after the first drinks break. The 3-0 result was secured late on by former midfielder Liam Miller.
Ferguson freely admits luck was on Glory's side in the opening stages against a misfiring Adelaide. "We obviously rode our luck a little bit in the first 15 minutes or so … thank god for the drinks break, to me that was a turning point in the game for us," Ferguson conceded. "My full backs weren't picking their runners up they were meant to be picking up, we were getting overloaded in there and they were causing us a few problems. During the drinks break we were able to get the players in, sort it out and show the players what we were looking for on the board – that helped us."
The win thrust Glory into fourth spot, just one point outside the top three and increasing their chances of a home final. With eight games remaining in the regular season – six of which are at home – Ferguson refused to get ahead of himself however preferring to concentrate on one match at a time. "I've always said it and it’s the same old cliché but its' one game at a time for us," Ferguson said. "We've now put ourselves in a fantastic position in fourth place and long may it continue. We need to keep getting the wins to secure us in the top six."
WILLIAMS SCORES CANBERRA'S TOP GONG
Australia goalkeeper Lydia Williams has deservedly been named Canberra United’s player of the year following an outstanding between the posts for the W-League champions. Williams conceded just 11 goals in Canberra’s unbeaten 12-match run leading Capital Football chief executive Heather Reid to sing her praise at the clubs awards ceremony, which came only 24 hours after defeating Brisbane Roar in the Grand Final. “I don’t think there’s any doubt she’s been the most outstanding goalkeeper in the league, she’s been so rock solid at the back and gives the team confidence,” Reid said.
Katanning-born Williams, 23, has been Canberra’s number one ‘keeper throughout the four seasons of W-League and had forged a unique understanding with defensive partners Caitlin Cooper, Nicole Sykes and team captain Ellie Brush. “Those three and myself have all been in the back line for the last three years, and the best way to create a partnership is to be together for the long haul. I guess the results this year are speaking for themselves,” said Williams, who has been capped 29 times by Australia.
Williams is one of seven Canberra players who will ply their trade abroad during a quiet year for the Matildas. “Tom (Sermanni)’s encouraged a lot of girls to go overseas and make sure we’re playing quality teams and training day-in, day-out,” said Williams, who has signed with Swedish side Pitea IF. “Going away and seeing how the rest of the world performs will be a big eye-opener for the girls in our team, I know it was for me when I went to (Women’s Professional Soccer club) Chicago in 2009. In America we’d spend half a day running and not even touching a ball, it’s different in terms of its professionalism.”
WASTEFUL ADELAIDE PUNISHED BY GLORY
Perth Glory extended their unbeaten run to seven games by toppling Adelaide United 3-0 at Hindmarsh Stadium. The home teams’ failure to take advantage of their possession dominance and numerous opportunities was punished by Shane Smeltz and Steven McGarry goals inside 20 minutes before Liam Miller wrapped up the points close to the final whistle. The result moves Glory into fourth on the table, just two points adrift of the second placed Wellington Phoenix, while Adelaide’s second loss in as many weeks leaves them stranded four points outside the top six.
Adelaide bounced back from an early onslaught by the visitors by pilling on the pressure with a string of attacking raids. A deflection off Bruce Djite fell kindly to Dario Vidosic whose angled effort was into the side netting, then Djite should have done much better than hit the post from 6-metres having got the better of goalkeeper Danny Vukovic. The Glory custodian parried a blistering drive from Van Dijk with the follow-up sent high by Djite, who soon after fired just wide after taking on two defenders and cutting in from the right.
So it was again the run of play that Smeltz gave Glory the lead on 14 minutes, the New Zealand international stealing possession from Daniel Mullen and fending off a challenge by Osama Malik to finish into the bottom corner from just inside the 18-yard box. Adelaide were still trying to figure out a response when Todd Howarth’s goalbound volley was turned in from a few metres by McGarry. The home side carved out a couple of chances late in the half but Malik and Djite both failed to hit the target as Adelaide’s shot count entered double digits.
With no option but to attack, Adelaide pushed forward after the break but teenage substitute Jacob Melling half-volleyed well wide after being getting on the end of Fabian Barbiero’s clever dink over the defence. The hosts better opportunities came via set-pieces, however, they were continually left frustrated by a resolute Glory backline. With ten minutes to go Glory substitute Andrezinho smartly cut the ball between two defenders and into the path of Miller, who slithered past two more opponents to drill into the bottom corner beyond an obstructed Galekovic.
LOWRY JOINS MILLWALL
Socceroo in waiting Shane Lowry has made his loan move to Millwall permanent after agreeing to a two-and-a-half year deal with the Championship outfit. The 22-year old defender joined the Lions on loan from Aston Villa in November and impressed sufficiently to secure a permanent stay after nine appearances for Kenny Jackett's side. Lowry entered Villa’s academy in 2005 and made three first team appearances for the club along with a further 43 through loan spells with Plymouth Argyle, Leeds United and Sheffield United. Millwall are currently fighting off relegation, sitting 20th in the Championship, five points above the drop zone.
GLORY YOUTH BLOW GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY
The title hopes of Perth Glory Youth were dealt a blow as lowly Adelaide United twice came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw this afternoon at Inglewood’s 6PR Stadium. The home side monopolised possession right from the get-go with first half strikes by Harry O’Brien and Jesse Makarounas answered only by Jordan Elsey. Lead by dazzling midfielder Teeboy Kamara, Adelaide equalised soon after the re-start through Evan Kostopoulos and although both teams had their chances to steal victory each had to be content with a share of the points.
Despite the hot conditions, Glory Youth’s high-energy display had Adelaide on the back foot from early. Makarounas wasted a golden opportunity on 8 minutes when his penalty kick was pushed wide by goalkeeper Paul Izzo. The Reds’ reprieve was to prove a temporary one, however, as just five minutes later O’Brien toe poked in the opener from just outside the 18-yard box. The visitors eventually found their stride and on 37 minutes Kostopoulos’ shot was parried by Neil Young with Elsey tucking in the rebound. Glory Youth hit back instantly, O’Neill playing in Makarounas to finish neatly past Izzo.
Adelaide reaped the rewards for a strong start to the second half when Kamara linked with Kostopoulos who clipped a low shot past substitute ‘keeper Devon Spence on 55 minutes. Izzo denied O’Neill just after the hour and from the resulting corner substitute Albert Negyo flashed a header wide. With both sides tiring, gaps began to open up and Spence kept the teams level with a superb reflex save from a close-range header by Christopher Annicchiarico. Kamara threatened a last-gasp winner but was robbed by Cameron Burgess’ perfectly timed challenge. In the shadows of full-time Clayton Arnez collected his marching orders for a foul on Awer Mabil.
CANBERRA CLINCH W-LEAGUE TITLE
Canberra United made a perfect finish to a near flawless season by defeating Brisbane Roar 3-2 in the W-League Grand Final today at McKellar Park. In front of a boisterous home crowd, Canberra thrilled the 2,512 fans with Michelle Heyman scoring twice and Ashleigh Sykes once to propel Canberra to its first national league crown. It was a special moment for the clubs foundation players Ellie Brush, Lydia Williams, Caitlin Munoz, Grace Gill, Ashleigh Sykes, Nicole Sykes and Jennifer Bisset with the win erasing the painful memory of a Grand Final loss to Brisbane three years ago.
Heyman, the W-League all-time leading goalscorer, started the celebrations on 11 minutes with a neat finish. Six minutes later Heyman provided an inch-perfect cross which Ashleigh Sykes tapped in to throw Brisbane on the ropes. Emily Gielnek came off the bench to score with her first touch midway through the first half, giving Brisbane hope in a pulsating game. But that was extinguished ten minutes after the break when Heyman bagged her second goal, and although Tameka Butt pulled one back from the penalty spot it was not enough to prevent Canberra from lifting the trophy.
STERJOVSKI RATES GLORY A TOP THREE PROSPECT
Perth Glory should be aiming for a top three finish at the end of the A-League season according to winger Mile Sterjovski. Glory are unbeaten in their past six matches, propelling the side into fifth spot with just nine regular season games left, and Sterjovski sees no reason why they can’t climb even higher. “We’re sitting fifth on the table now and we’re only a few points from third so if we can keep going like this and keep winning games, we can finish in the top three easily I think,” said Sterjovski ahead of tomorrow’s away clash with eight-placed Adelaide United. “If we win it puts us eight points clear of Adelaide and getting the wins at this stage of the season is very important.”
A top four finish would guarantee Glory their first home final since the inception of the A-League. With lofty ambitions, Sterjovski admits bringing a point home from Adelaide is easier said than done. “We know it’s not going to be an easy game there, they’re a good team and they’ve got great support behind them,” said the former Socceroo. “But at the same time we want to go there for a win. We work hard towards that and if we get a draw we’ll settle for it, but we’re really determined and we want to get a win. In the last four or five weeks we’ve been doing really well, even away from home, and we want to continue that.”
FERGUSON WORRIED GLORY WILL LOSE KEY PLAYERS
Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson is concerned his side’s good form could prompt rival clubs to swoop on out-of-contract players. Fifteen Glory players, including regulars Jacob Burns, Mile Sterjovski, Josh Mitchell, Steve Pantelidis, Billy Mehmet, Todd Howarth and Andrezinho, are out of contract at the end of the season and a recent six-match unbeaten streak has increased the interest of rival clubs. Glory chief executive Paul Kelly, who will oversee the recruitment process in conjunction with Ferguson, said earlier this week the club would not be rushed into offering new contracts despite the risk of losing players.
Ferguson has handed Kelly a list of required players and potential recruits but does not expect to see any movement until the end of the campaign. “It is a worry at the moment but at the end of the day I can understand the way the club’s going and why they are doing it,” Ferguson said. “Once we get to the end of the season I’ll be sitting down with the CEO and there’s obviously the budget and salary cap and things like that are going to change. So we’ll need to see then who we can offer (a deal) and who we can’t, who I can go for from other teams or overseas.”
WILLIAMS PLANS FOR GRAND FINAL SUCCESS
Goalkeeper Lydia Williams will use the bitter memory of a Grand Final loss three years ago to inspire Canberra United to victory in tomorrow’s W-League season finale. Canberra went through the regular season without loss and the only thing now standing between them and a historic first national league title are Brisbane Roar. Unfortunately for Canberra they’ve beaten Brisbane only once in nine games, a record which includes losses in the 2008/09 Grand Final and last years’ semi-finals.
As one of seven survivors of that Grand Final loss, Williams says it is time Canberra turned the tables on their bogey side. “I think the girls that haven’t been playing against them (Brisbane) the last few years, I don’t know if they have the same motivation (as those who have),” said Williams, who played alongside Ellie Brush, Caitlin Munoz, Grace Gill, Ashleigh Sykes, Nicole Sykes and Jennifer Bisset in the 2008/09 decider. “Brisbane have a lot of Matildas in their team, so I guess there’s a point to prove that Canberra’s the best.''
Williams acknowledges that the prospect of losing the Grand Final after an unbeaten year is incomprehensible. “I try not to think about that too much, but obviously it does play on you and you have to be aware of that,” she said. “As long as we’re aware of it but it doesn’t overwhelm us, I think we’ll be all right.” A full house is expected in the nation’s capital for tomorrow’s game with the compact surrounds of McKellar Stadium sure to be a sea of colour and noise. The W-League Grand Final between Canberra and Brisbane will be broadcast on ABC1 from 2.50pm tomorrow.
OLYROOS BOSS GIVES TAGGART FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Australia Under-23 coach Aurelio Vidmar has warned Adam Taggart may need to reconsider where he plays his club football or run the risk of missing out on this years’ Olympic Games squad. Earlier this week Taggart was named in the Olyroos squad for upcoming qualifiers against Uzbekistan and the United Arab Emirates despite playing only 82 minutes of football this season at Perth Glory. Vidmar spoke glowingly of the striker’s pace, awareness and mean streak but conceded limited playing time was detrimental to his development.
Vidmar said Taggart’s immediate Olyroos career will be determined who much club football he can play. “Sooner or later he’s going to have to start playing (more often),” Vidmar said. “I think he’s got some really good qualities and, for me, if he could’ve had more game time I certainly think he could grow and develop a lot quicker. But I also know Perth have got a very strong line-up at the moment and it’s hard to break in. I still think that if he gets an opportunity, even if he’s coming off the bench, that he can do something. He’s got an eye for goal, he’s got a lot of speed and he’s got a little bit of mongrel in him.”
Taggart, who at 18 is young enough to be eligible for London and the 2016 tournament in Brazil, made his Glory debut a year ago. But the presence of experienced duo Shane Smeltz and Billy Mehmet, and a change of system which now requires only one striker, have limited his involvement. His Glory contract expires at the end of the current campaign and the teenager could be playing elsewhere next season. “I can understand why they are in the team,” Taggart said of Smeltz and Mehmet. “But game time is important, so it’s something I have to look at and speak to people about.”
HARNWELL KEEN TO BUILD ON GLORY WOMEN’S SUCCESSES (with Neil Sherwin, ‘Glory Days’ matchday programme)
The foundations for the future success of Perth Glory Women have been laid through a difficult summer according to coach Jamie Harnwell. Glory Women completed the fourth W-League season in sixth position, only three points above last placed Adelaide United, but Harnwell feels a lot has been learnt which will benefit the side going forward. "It's been an interesting year and a lot has happened," he said. "I've had to learn a lot and work hard at what I want to do with the team, but it's all been worthwhile … we've hopefully set in place something we can build on in future years and give Perth Glory a strong team in years to come."
Glory Women ended their season last weekend by demolishing Newcastle Jets 4-2 with goals from Katarina Jukic, Carys Hawkins, Elisa D'Ovidio and Marianna Tabain. It was only the second time the young and inexperienced side had taken maximum points over the summer, the other being a 2-1 result over Adelaide United in early November. Their cause was not helped by the absence of key trio Sam Kerr, Katie Gill and Colette McCallum but all three should return for 2012/12 to compliment a talented group of youngsters. "We've got quite a young team and I've just been trying to gauge the ability of those players," commented Harnwell.
Harnwell is pleased with how his side has developed and hopes to remain in charge next season. "There's not many of them that are established W-League players", he explained. "We've got a lot of young local Perth girls who have had their first chance at this level of competition and that's going to hold us in good stead for years to come. I think next season and beyond, when we do hopefully get some more experienced players back and can fill the squad a little bit more, these girls that have been playing this year will know what the competition's about and will be pushing for places as well rather than being just fill-in players" .
One of the team's most consistent performers was Young Matildas goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, who made the move out west at the beginning of the season. "Mackenzie's been fantastic," said the Glory Women coach. "She's only 17 years of age and she's from Queensland, so to travel over here to live and make that sacrifice to play in the W-League is a huge one for her to make. Her performances have been superb. She's a great presence for us, has made some fantastic saves, is a really great kid to work with and I think she's got a very, very big future in the game".
The W-League may only run for ten games but there has been plenty of drama to keep the public interested. Glory's decision to release international players Emma Kete and Lisa Marie-Woods for disciplinary reasons just prior to Christmas raised plenty of eyebrows around the country but showed that, even with such an inexperienced squad, they are trying to instil strong values within the group. The prospect of Kerr, Gill and McCallum linking up with D'Ovidio and Tabain, who produced some sparkling performances this season, is an exciting one for Glory Women supporters and certainly provides grounds for optimism heading into next season.
FULHAM SHOW AN INTEREST IN WILLIAMS
English Premier League club Fulham are ready to table a £500,000 bid for Portsmouth starlet Ryan Williams. Fulham manager Martin Jol is looking to snap up 18-year old Williams, who has made six first team appearances for Pompey this season. Portsmouth will be sorely tempted to accept the offer after being hit with a wind-up order by British authorities over their failure to pay a £1.6 million tax bill. Williams, a former ECU Joondalup junior, entered the academy system at Fratton Park in July 2010. He was fast-tracked into the first team squad at the start of the current season, making his senior squad with an off the bench appearance against Middlesbrough in August 2011.
GLORY IN NO RUSH TO RECRUIT
Perth Glory will not be rushed into making recruitment decisions, despite the strong possibility of losing players to rival clubs. Glory chief executive Paul Kelly admitted yesterday he was disappointment to hear West Australian youngster Trent Sainsbury had committed to Central Coast Mariners for another two season but said missing out on the 20-year old defender did not alter his clubs plans. "At the moment we're happy with where we're at," Kelly said. "We have a list of players we are looking at. But to be fair, we have to give the players we currently have the best possible chance of being retained."
Fifteen current players, including those on short-term or injury replacement deals, will be out of contract at the end of the season. Glory have commenced discussions with some players, however, some will not be offered contract extensions as the club attempts to cut their wage bill. "We have a budget and we are not going to break it and if that means running with a squad of 20 (players) then we'll run with 20," Kelly said. "The other thing is we want to give the youth team players the best possible chance of stepping up."
OLYROOS CALL-UP FOR TAGGART, BIRIGHITTI
West Australian youngsters Adam Taggart and Mark Birighitti have been selected in the Australia squad for next months' crucial Olympic Games qualifiers against Uzbekistan and the United Arab Emirates. 18-year old Taggart is looking forward to doing his hit to help Australia qualify for the London Olympics. "It's great to be named in the squad and to be given another opportunity to represent my country," Taggart said. Adelaide United's Birighitti is one of two goalkeepers to gain selection, however, in-form Melbourne Heart striker Eli Babalj was surprisingly omitted.
The Australia Under-23 squad to play Uzbekistan and the UAE is Mark Birighitti, Antony Golec, Daniel Mullen (Adelaide United), Matthew Jurman, Mitch Nichols, Rocco Visconte (Brisbane Roar), Oliver Bozanic, Mathew (Central Coast Mariners), Kerem Bulut (FK Mladá Boleslav), Aziz Behich, Mate Dugandzic, Jason Hoffman (Melbourne Heart), Isaka Cernak, Diogo Ferreira, Matthew Foschini (Melbourne Victory), Ben Kantarovski (Newcastle Jets), Adam Taggart (Perth Glory), Terry Antonis, Dimitrios Petratos and Sebastian Ryall (Sydney FC).
MARINERS A GOOD FIT FOR SAINSBURY
A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners have re-signed defender Trent Sainsbury on a new two-year deal. Sainsbury, 20, has been used chiefly off the bench this season behind experienced central defenders Alex Wilkinson and Patrick Zwaanswijk but is nonetheless thrilled to remain a Mariners player. “It’s a good family orientated club, which suits me, and I like that it’s a very chilled out lifestyle here on the Coast,” Sainsbury said. “Arnie (coach Graham Arnold) was a big part of me staying here, he’s a very professional coach and I guess you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone so it was important for me not to go to another club and basically have to start from scratch.”
Mariners boss Arnold praised his clubs’ commitment to youth development by holding onto Sainsbury and promoting Mitchell Duke, James Oates and Anthony Caceres after consistently coming up with the goods in the National Young League. “In the past two years Trent has developed with us physically and matured a lot as a footballer and a person – he’s one of our youngsters with a lot of potential,” commented Arnold. “This shows that we want to give our youth a go. The ones who come into our system early will get a chance – to find other players they have to be a very special talent otherwise we will promote our youth.”
SMELTZ THANKS HOME TOWN CROWD
New Zealand striker Shane Smeltz has paid tribute to a parochial home crowd for propelling Perth Glory to yesterday’s crushing defeat of Melbourne Victory. Smeltz bagged a first half brace with Mile Sterjovski and Brazilian import Andrezinho also on target in a 4-1 win. "It was fantastic with the crowd and the atmosphere, it really helped us along and hopefully we can keep it going," Smeltz said of the season best 12,358 turnout. "They (the crowd) made a big contribution, that's the first time we've hit those sort of numbers and it really made a difference to the players."
Sterjovski, who started the season on the outer but has fought his way back into Ian Ferguson's plans, was the instigator in many of Glory's forward thrusts throughout yesterday's game. "He was on fire yesterday," Smeltz of the former Socceroos attacker. "Probably one of his best games and we need a bit more (of those) from him. If we can get more out of him like that, we'll be dangerous in supply as well and obviously he can score goals. So he's been fantastic the last few weeks and hopefully he can keep that going as well."
Good supply from across midfield combined with greater self-belief have been the major factors in Glory finding the back of the net in each of their past eight games according to Smeltz. "I think we're gelling a little bit better now and the confidence is coming a little bit better from everyone," Smeltz said. "That helps when you're trying to score goals, so the more supply we get like that, we're going to score more goals - it's as simple as that … we're coming to the pointy end of the season so if we can do that and have eleven players stand up each week, we're going to be hard to beat."
The next assignment for Glory has them up away to another of the competitions improvers, Adelaide United. The Reds, who recently replaced Rini Coolen as coach by recalling John Kosmina, have lost once in five outings under Kosmina but have a hectic schedule this week with games against Newcastle Jets (Wednesday) and Glory (Sunday). "They're a good side and they've improved a hell of a lot under Kossie," Smeltz said. "We've got a bit of a rest this week and they've got a game Wednesday, so hopefully we can get there and be fired up for that one."
OXTOBY NAMED GLORY WOMEN’S BEST
Perth Glory Women captain Tanya Oxtoby has claimed her second Most Glorious Player award. Oxtoby, Glory Women’s captained across the first four W-League seasons, was understandably thrilled to pick up her team’s top individual prize. “When I began playing for the Glory, I would have never envisaged having the honour of being the captain, and certainly wouldn’t have ever imagined winning this award once, let alone twice within my career,” said Oxtoby. “It’s a fantastic honour and it’s something I will hold very close to my heart.”
Glory Women coach Jamie Harnwell says Oxtoby was a deserved winner of the teams fairest and best award. “As captain of a young and inexperienced team she had to shoulder a lot of the load on and off the park and rather than detracting from her performance, it acted as a spur to push herself on,” commented Harnwell. “Her leadership and drive on the field was something that held the team together at times and her willingness to put her body on the line stopped a number of goals being conceded.”
English import Katie Holtham, who joined Glory Women in October from Doncaster Rovers Belles, commemorated her first W-League campaign by claiming the Players Player of the Year. “She worked hard and it’s a great tribute to Katie that her fellow players recognised her qualities and awarded her with this trophy,” commented Harnwell. “Initially used as a centre half, Katie linked up well with Tanya Oxtoby before being pushed into midfield in the final games where she provided us with a great deal of push and drive through the middle.”
Young Matildas goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold was third in Most Glorious Player counting and runner-up in the Players player of the Year. Arnold, 17, moved to Perth late last year from Brisbane to take the gloves for Glory Women. The Golden Boot award was claimed by Young Matilda Marianna Tabain, who tallied up three goals in a tough season for the side. Tabain worked hard throughout the season, scoring in wins over Adelaide United and Newcastle Jets with her eye-catching display against the latter a personal highlight.
HONG KONG OFFERS EVANS A NEW OPPORTUNITY
Former Perth Glory Youth captain Dean Evans is excited about opening a new chapter in his football career. Evans desire to play the game he loves has taken him to Hong Kong where the 21-year old’s taken up a six-month deal with top flight club Sham Shui Po. “Everything is going really well. I’ve settled in well with my new team mates and I’m getting quite used to the surroundings in Hong Kong,” the defender said. “The only difficulty has been the language barrier when playing, but slowly I’m picking up words and I’m also teaching some of my team mates English.”
Evans’ debut outing with Sham Shui Po coincided with their first point of the season from a 2-2 with Hong Kong Sapling. “We were disappointed to not pick up all three points because we had many chances to kill the game off but just lacked the cutting edge in front of goal. But considering we had a man sent off midway through the second half we were happy to get the point,” said the one-time Stirling Lions junior. “We beat Hong Kong 1-0 in the Cup on the weekend for the clubs first win of the season, so hopefully we can continue that into the league.”
At the halfway stage of the season Sham Shui Po are rooted to the foot of the league table but Evans says his club have it in them to avoid off relegation. “If everyone works hard and we get a bit of luck in front of goal there’s a good chance we will stay in the league because the players are definitely good enough,” he commented. “The team is very young and were only promoted from the Second Division last year. They’ve not had many positive results but now that we’ve signed a few players hopefully we can win some games.”
Evans originally headed to Hong Kong in July with the intention of signing with Kitchee but after turning out against English clubs Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers he was forced to look elsewhere. “Unfortunately I wasn’t offered a contract with Kitchee but I had caught the eye of a few other coaches. I have a friend playing at Sham Shui Po and he helped get me to the club,” Evans said. “When I came here I said to myself ‘I’d love to live here’. The standard of football is quite good, the people are so friendly and living outside Australia is a new experience for me.”
Evans has noticed several differences between how the game is played in Australia and Hong Kong. “It’s difficult to compare because it’s a different style of football in Hong Kong,” he commented. “Players in Hong Kong are very technical and sharp but they lack overall positional sense. They’re very good with the ball but sometimes without the ball they aren’t switched on to their defensive duties,” he said. “Australia is a more complete league. It’s more physical and also technically sound, players in Australia have a greater understanding of the game.”
Mindful his contract with Sham Shui Po expires in June, Evans hopes his efforts in Hong Kong don’t go unrewarded. “This is a great opportunity for me to play football in a different country and, hopefully, I can some to the attention of some of the bigger clubs here, or even get the chance to play again for Sham Shui Po if we can stay in the league,” he said. “Come this time next year I hope to still be playing professional football whether that be in Hong Kong, Australia or anywhere else … I’m just really excited to being playing full time again and really want to enjoy my football.”
GLORY STORM PAST A HAPLESS MELBOURNE
Perth Glory turned in their best performance of the season in a 4-1 win over Melbourne Victory this afternoon at Perth Oval. The home side ran all over opponents in the first half with Shane Smeltz scoring twice and Mile Sterjovski once to open up a sizeable lead by the interval. Harry Kewell pulled one back for Melbourne midway through the second period but any hopes of a comeback were snuffed out when Danny Allsopp was red carded ten minutes later. Andrezinho put the icing on the cake with Glory’s fourth goal in front of a season best crowd of 12,358.
It didn’t take long for Glory to establish a pattern of one-way traffic which was to last the entire opening half. A sizzling long-range effort by Josh Risdon narrowly cleared the crossbar with Steven McGarry and Smeltz also going close before Glory got the breakthrough they deserved. Sterjovski turned Matthew Kemp inside out before cutting the ball back for an unmarked Smeltz to calmly side-foot past Ante Covic with just 13 minutes gone. Melbourne could muster little in response to a rampant home side that carved out further opportunities for McGarry and Evan Berger, however, neither was able to convert.
So it came as no surprise when Glory doubled their lead just after the half hour in somewhat bizarre circumstances. As a corner came in visiting captain Adrian Leijer wrestled Todd Howarth to the ground, leading referee peter Green to point to the penalty spot from where Smeltz sent Covic the wrong way. Half-time was approaching when Berger drew a foul from Matthew Foschini just inside the 18-yard box, the referee again awarded a penalty and this time it was a Stejovski that stepped up to send the ball past Covic for a three-nil lead.
With Liam Miller and Jacob Burns pulling the strings in midfield, Glory continued to menace going forward. A last-ditch Rodrigo Vargas block prevented Berger from opening his account and even defender Bas Van Den Brink stung the palms of Covic with a thumping 22-metre effort. A change of formation and a couple of substitutions brought Melbourne more into the game but they were lucky not to lose Kewell, who had earlier been booked, when he appeared to dive on the edge of the box as Steve Pantelidis came in to challenge.
Referee Green awarded the games’ third penalty on 68 minutes after Jean Carlos Solorzano theatrically went down under Pantelidis, with Kewell blasting the resultant spot kick past Danny Vukovic. There was further drama ten minutes later when substitute Danny Allsopp received his marching orders for a crude studs-up tackle on Pantelidis. Adrian Leijer’s brilliant diving header cut out an Andrezinho cross with Smeltz looming. In the second to last minute of regulation time Andrezinho jinxed his way past Matthew Foschini to fire in Glory’s fourth goal on a memorable afternoon.
TOMBIDES GRATEFUL FOR SUPPORT
Dylan Tombides has thanked his West Ham United teammates and the clubs loyal supporters for their support as prepares for his latest bout of surgery for testicular cancer. The Hammers first team showed their support for 17-year old Tombides by wearing ‘Get well soon Dylan' t-shirts during the warm-up for yesterday's game with Nottingham Forest, two weeks after the under-18’s did likewise ahead of their FA Youth Cup victory over Brighton and Hove Albion. "It was a real boost to see all the boys wearing 'Get well soon Dylan' t-shirts in the warm-up," Tombides told whufc.com.
Tombides was overwhelmed by a Facebook update on his treatment which garnered well wishes from than 400 fans. "I put a message on Facebook and then I went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, I had hundreds of messages of support and they mean so much to me. I want to thank everyone for wishing me well," Tombides commented. "People had started messaging me on Facebook asking how I was, but until this week I have had nothing to report. I am so grateful for all the messages, because they mean so much to me."
Tombides is scheduled for surgery this week in which doctors will remove lymph nodes from his abdomen. "When I first read about the surgery on the internet it looked very complicated, but when I spoke to my surgeon he drew a diagram of what he is going to do and it looked a lot simpler," said Tombides. "Basically, it is removing all of the lymph nodes and scar tissue from around the stomach area. The lymph nodes absorb toxins and because I have had testicular cancer, cancerous cells can attach themselves to the lymph nodes and be spread from there."
It will be several weeks before Tombides is given the all-clear to resume light training. "It all depends how quickly I heal and feel better, but my Dad read on the internet about a guy who had the same surgery and was surfing again within six weeks," he said. "I won't be rushing back, but I am looking forward to getting back to doing what I enjoy most, which is playing football. I am also going to have to delay my driving test for a few weeks, but the lessons are going well so hopefully I'll be on the road soon, too."
MELBOURNE STOP GLORY YOUTH IN THEIR TRACKS
Bottom of the table Melbourne Victory pulled off one of the shocks of the National Youth League season by holding leaders Perth Glory Youth to a 0-0 draw this afternoon at 6PR Stadium in Inglewood. The visiting team troubled an under-strength Glory Youth line-up for the duration and were denied a stoppage time winner when Luc Jeggo’s effort was disallowed for offside. It was a day when not a lot went right for Gareth Naven’s side with Brandon O’Neill’s first half penalty saved by Tando Velaphi and Storm Roux issued his marching orders shortly before the final whistle.
Neil Young was called into the action early, the Glory Youth custodian coming off his line to break down a dangerous counter-attack. This set the tone for an attacking start by the visitors in which James Jeggo placed just wide from a Luke O’Dea cutback and a free header by Nicholas Ansell was cleared off the line by Sam Mitchinson. Despite being outplayed for much of the half, Glory Youth should have taken the lead just before the break but Velaphi dived low to his right to save O’Neill’s penalty kick awarded for Adam Nakic’s foul on Ndumba Makeche.
Melbourne continued to create the better of openings in the second half. In the 52nd minute Kwabene Boahene’ cross was just out of the reach of Hernan Espindola, who was a couple of metres out from an open goal. Glory Youth’s best chance came on 72 minutes when Makeche was played through only to be forced wide, allowing Velaphi to make the save. Luc Jeggo thought he’d found a 92nd minute winner only for an offside call to rule his effort out, and sloppy tackle a minute later sparked a heated exchange after which Roux was sent for an early shower.
GRIFFITHS SET TO RETURN
Holding midfielder Rostyn Griffiths is expected to return to Central Coast Mariners' starting eleven when they Adelaide United today. Griffiths showed he’d recovered from a glute injury with a 30-minute off-the-bench cameo in Wednesday's win over Melbourne Heart and believes he is now ready for a full game. "I haven't gone straight back into the team. It's taken a couple of games to get back in and that's a good thing," Griffiths said. "I know I've got to play well to keep my spot for next week … It's very tough for places now."
Griffiths, 23, is likely to play a major role for the table-topping Mariners as they look to claim the A-League premiership and championship. Heading into the weekend the Mariners hold a nine-point buffer over their nearest rivals, but Arnold is ensuring complacency won't become part of his players' vocabulary. "He (Arnold) is a level-headed fellow himself, so he never lets himself get carried away either," Griffiths said. "While delivering his team speeches, it's always 'we can get better'. We really want to be peaking at the end of the season, not now."
MEMHET AIMS FOR VICTORY
Perth Glory striker Billy Mehmet is racing against the clock in a bid to prove his fitness for Sunday’s blockbuster with Melbourne Victory. Mehmet has missed the last three games with a calf tear but hopes to return to the fold this weekend and help Glory consolidate their place in the top six. “I’ve been doing everything I can so far, hopefully I’ll be back for the game,” he said. “I’ve heard that Melbourne Victory are a big club and with the boys that they’ve got this year we know that it’s going to be a tough game.
Mehmet, a former Dunfermline Athletic and St. Mirren player, grew up watching Melbourne attacker Harry Kewell and remains well aware of the Socceroo star’s strengths. “Growing up in England I used to watch him play for Leeds and he’s got everything in a game so we’ll have to stop that, but I’m sure with the boys at the back we’ll combat that," said Mehmet, who played once for the Republic of Ireland at youth level. “It’s going to be tough, but on the day anything can happen.”
Sunday’s has been billed as one of Glory’s biggest of the season with a massive crowd expected at Perth Oval. “Wherever you play in the world you want to play the big games, and that’s what every footballer wants to do,” Mehmet commented. “Hopefully we can get as many fans as we can to the game, to get behind us and hopefully we can get the three points.” Travis Dodd, Josh Mitchell and Bas Van Den Brink also need to prove their fitness to coach Ian Ferguson if they’re to make the squad to play Melbourne.
HAMMERS’ SHOW SUPPORT FOR TOMBIDES
West Ham United’s players will wear t-shirts in support of rising star Dylan Tombides on Saturday after he was told he needs an operation to remove cancerous tumours. Hammers boss Sam Allardyce approved the players' request to warm up in specially designed t-shirts as a tribute to the Australian youth striker before their home game with Nottingham Forest. Tombides, who played juniors with Stirling Lions and Perth SC before entering West Ham’s academy in 2009, will have an operation to remove cancerous cells in his lymph glands next week.
Tombides was originally diagnosed with testicular cancer last June while on international duty at the Under-17 World Cup. The teenager commenced chemotherapy at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London soon after and hoped to return to training towards the end of last year, however, he suffered a setback just before Christmas and requires the operation urgently. Tombides, whose younger brother Taylor is also in at West Ham, is determined to fight back and his team mates, along with Allardyce and club officials, have been fully supportive in his battle.
NORMANTON AIMS TO BRING INGLEWOOD GLORY
Coaching legend Graham Normanton has made it his goal to return Inglewood United to the pinnacle of State League football. Normanton, who returned a remarkable 22 trophies to Dorrien Gardens between 1999 and 2010, was named to lead Inglewood into the coming season following Shane Pryce’s resignation last year. “I am excited at the prospect of coaching at a club like Inglewood who have rich traditions, a proud history, have decent facilities and have people who want the club to become a very significant part of WA football,” commented Normanton, who’ll continue his role as WA Recruitment Manager with Perth Glory.
Glory and Inglewood are in the midst of formalising an alliance which will see the A-League club utilise Hamer Parade as a base for their administrative, training and academy set-ups. The agreement will also allow Glory youth team players to turn out for Inglewood over the winter months, aiding their development and increasingly their likelihood of stepping up to the first team. The proposed alliance has been the topic of much debate over the summer with the majority of State League clubs voicing strong objections against Glory’s perceived ‘takeover’ of Inglewood, a club’s whose roots stretch back 60 years.
Normanton has listened to all the objections raised towards Glory’s alliance with Inglewood but says the State League and its clubs have nothing to fear. “I know people are looking on this with some scepticism but I see it as being good for the game in WA,” commented. “I’m not asking for any concessions from anybody other than to say that other clubs have nothing to fear from this alliance. I sincerely hope that the Inglewood club, and the Kramer family achieve the success they deserve after a great commitment to the game over many years.”
One of the big concerns raised by opponents of the alliance is the potential for Inglewood’s line-up to be flooded with A-League players, something Normanton says is simply not going to happen. “Glory players cannot play for Inglewood. Under Football Federation Australia regulations they can’t hold dual registration. Only players who have been given special dispensation – the long-term injured, players who’ve played very few A-League games – by FFA can play in the State League,” stated Normanton, who also hosed down suggestions Inglewood will be used as a vehicle for Glory trialists, citing transfer window constraints and the difficulties associated with registering players for short periods.
That’s not to say there will be not changes to the Inglewood playing roster for the coming season. “We will always be looking to improve on what we have therefore, like every club in the world, player movement will be inevitable. We want players who have passion, the right attitude and temperament, and who have the ability and desire to go to the next level,” Normanton said. “Inglewood’s existing players will have every opportunity to impress and stake their claim to be part of this quality club that we are enhancing. Every player will be treated with total respect, they will not be thrown out of their club.”
The end goal is for Inglewood to provide talented young players an avenue to achieve their goal of playing professionally. “In five to ten years Inglewood will consist of players the club has developed and who we believe have the potential to achieve a higher standard,” explained Normanton. “Inglewood will be the pathway through which quality young players can further their career in a positive, professional environment where they gain the understanding and experience of what it takes to become a professional footballer. I would also like to see Inglewood become an example of professionalism both in facilities and football for all other clubs to aspire.”
Glory are taking it one small step at a time in aligning themselves with Inglewood, whose long-term sustainability and success is at the heart of the A-League clubs plans. “We have to be sure that we are putting in place the right structure that will protect Inglewood’s heritage and by so doing we cater for an exciting future,” Normanton said. “It is important that we get the right personnel in the right positions to ensure that the club is run professionally, efficiently and economically. It will be something that will take some time and it represents the biggest challenge I’ve had in my lengthy coaching career.”
With the new season slowly drawing near, Inglewood’s new coach has set his team some modest goals. “This year is all about consolidation, both on the field and off it,” Normanton explained. “It will be very difficult to set something up and running from scratch and expect to be very competitive in our first season. We have to set structures, pathways and systems in place not only for the playing side of the club but also for the administration of the club. Our first aim, in a results sense, is not to finish last – anything after that will be an achievement considering we haven’t even started training yet!”
PHILIPPINES HAVE THEIR EYE ON MARCELO
Bernard Marcelo could become the latest talented Australian to commit to playing for another nation. The 19-year old attacking midfielder has been invited to try out for the Filipino national squad after catching the eye while playing for Cloud County Community College in the United States. Marcelo, who played youth and reserves football at Sorrento and Floreat Athena, will trial for the Philippines in May. “I think it will be tough, but I don’t really know because I don’t know the standard over there,” said Marcelo, a Futsal State representative.
Kansas-based Cloud County recently won the National Junior College Athletic Association title by convincingly defeating Monroe, from New York state, 4-1. “Being the best team in America is the biggest thing I could ever dream about,” said Marcelo, who is making the most of paying football full-time in the United States. “You’re training every day and the coach recruits top players from other countries like England and Brazil – it’s a good standard. You learn so much from them, coming from a lower standard and you progress as a player.”
POINT COMES AT A COST FOR GLORY
Ian Ferguson faces a defensive dilemma as Perth Glory prepares to play a rejuvenated Melbourne Victory this Sunday at Perth Oval. Dutch centre-half Bas Van Den Brink became Glory’s latest injury casualty when he succumbed to a corked leg early in yesterday’s draw at Sydney FC. Glory’s defensive stocks are so depleted they played the majority the game with midfielders Jacob Burns and Steve Pantelidis patrolling the centre of defence. Ferguson has his fingers cross Van Den Brink or Josh Mitchell (knee) recover in time for Sunday’s blockbuster.
Ferguson was pleased with Burns’ performance in an unfamiliar role alongside Pantelidis, who has played at the back for the past few weeks. “We are struggling (with injuries) but it shows the depth we’ve got now and the character of the squad when we can put two holding midfielders in there and they can do a job,” he said. “It’s been an absolute nightmare at the back and you obviously want players to play in their natural positions. But they’ve done a job and that’s a massive point for us.”
JOONDALUP CITY HERE TO STAY SAYS PRESIDENT
Joondalup City will have a strong local focus when they step into the State League arena this year according to club president Peter Dearlove. The northern suburbs club are one of seven newcomers to Saturday football with Dearlove saying the key to their success lies with the local community. “We have an ever-growing population in the northern suburbs and that provides our club a growing talent pool that we can draw from, offering a good standard of football to local players,” said Dearlove. “We will always look to grow as a club, develop our own players and be a strong part of the local and football communities.”
The task of leading Joondalup into their first ever State League campaign was handed last week to Gerry Wardle, whose coaching background includes top flight stints with Inglewood United, Bayswater City and Fremantle City. “Gerry has a lot of experience and will help develop the young players that have come through our club over the last ten years,” commented Dearlove, who isn’t overly concerned by how late in the pre-season the coaching role has been filled. “The squad has been in training since before Christmas and Gerry has now had several sessions with them.”
A desire to aid player development was behind Joondalup’s move into the State League this year. “We have lost so many good players from our junior and youth teams as we previously had no path that would allow them to continue to develop,” explained Dearlove. “In our first State League season we will have a strong emphasis on giving our young players an opportunity to show that we are committed to their development. Hopefully, that will be the start of keeping and attracting back players that may have felt our club didn’t quite give them the right opportunities.”
Formed in 1989, Joondalup rose quickly up through the amateur ranks to play the last three seasons in the Second Division. Dearlove recognises the coming year will be difficult for his club but is nonetheless looking forward to opening a new chapter in Joondalup’s history. “I am a realist and know that it will be a tough year,” commented the Joondalup president. “We are focused on developing a good squad that can be competitive and making sure that we learn as much as we can on and off the pitch in what will be an extremely exciting time for our club.”
HUGHES SALVAGES GLORY A POINT
Perth Glory stretched their unbeaten run to five games with a 1-1 draw against Sydney FC on a hot and humid afternoon at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. Mark Bridge put the home team ahead on the stroke of half-time with Adam Hughes earning Glory a deserved share of the points three minutes from the end of regulation time. It was a workmanlike performance by Glory whose schedule in the past 20 days has taken in five games – four of which have been on the road – and five flights. Glory remain in fifth place, two points behind Wellington Phoenix in fourth and one more adrift of Melbourne Heart in third.
The temperature in western Sydney was close to 30 degrees at kick-off leading referee Matt Gillett to order two drinks breaks throughout the game. Even so, both sides struggled for fluency for much of the first half with rival goalkeepers Liam Reddy and Vukovic rarely called into action. The first meaningful chance didn’t present until just after the half hour but Karol Kisel’s effort from 20-metres was well off-target. Half-time was on the horizon when Bridge got on the end of a Nick Carle cross and beat Vukovic. Sydney were unlucky not to extend their lead in stoppage time through Terry Antonis, who forced a good near post save from Vukovic.
Carle should have put the match out of Glory’s reach six minutes after the turnaround but failed to hit the target with an open goal at his mercy. Steve Pantelidis spurned a great opportunity at the other end on 73 minutes by sending a free header wide after being picked out by a Mile Sterjovski free-kick. The fresh legs of Adam Taggart and Evan Berger ensured Glory kept testing the home side as they searched to equalise. That goal arrived on 87 minutes, Hughes heading into the bottom corner from a well-flighted Berger corner.
HERD FACES ANOTHER MONTH OUT
Aston Villa midfielder Chris Herd looks set to miss another month of the English season with an ankle ligament problem. Herd, 22, enjoyed a seven-game run in the Villa line-up before suffering the setback in early December with manager Alex McLeish admitting the injury is a little more long-term than originally envisaged. “Chris has got the protective boot on again and it depends how it feels when he takes it off,” said McLeish. “The last time he took it off, it was still sore. It’s a ligament in his ankle. It’s a kind of awkward one. If they take the boot off and he’s not got any discomfort, then it could be another month.”
BIRIGHITTI INKS DEAL WTH NEWCASTLE
Newcastle Jets have bolstered their goalkeeping stocks by signing Mark Birighitti on a two-year deal. Birighitti, 20, will join Newcastle at the completion of his Asian Champions League commitments with Adelaide United. The Australian youth international will vie for the spot between the posts with regular goalkeeper Ben Kennedy, whose contract has been extended by a year. Birighitti is the first signing for coach Gary Van Egmond as he looks to build a youthful team for the Newcastle club.
Birighitti, a former Perth SC junior, is looking forward to wrestling the gloves from Kennedy at Newcastle. “I am excited to have signed with the Jets and look forward to starting at the club after the Asian Champions League,” Birighitti said. “Our negotiations have been very professional and I look forward to being a part of what Gary van Egmond is building at the Jets. I have been at Adelaide United for a number of years and I wish to thank them for all they have done.”
CONFIDENCE BREEDS CONFIDENCE AT GLORY
Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson could not be happier with his teams’ performance in yesterday’s defeat of Melbourne Heart which takes the club into the top six. Glory are now on a four-game unbeaten streak and the return to form is as much about things going Ferguson’s team’s way as it has been a change in the quality of play according to the coach. “I’ve never felt as though we weren’t playing good football, I just felt we weren’t getting the rub of the green and the little breaks and this time we are,” he said. “It’s great that we’ve had these four games unbeaten. It has given that bit of confidence.”
Ferguson admitted that Sunday’s 2-1 win in Melbourne had its share of frustrating moments, especially when Glory dominated the attacking chances over the first hour only to see the home side equalise on 66 minutes. “At times, we need to be a little bit more clinical, to finish teams off. They were always going to be in it at one-nil. We could easily have scored three of four,” Ferguson commented after he watched Shane Smeltz and Travis Dodd squander some miss guilt-edged chances. However, Lady Luck smiled on the visitors two minutes later when Clint Bolton’s fumble allowed Steve McGarry to find a deserved winner.
MAKECHE INSPIRES GLORY YOUTH TO VICTORY
Perth Glory Youth have pulled clear at the top of the National Youth League standings after a thrilling come-from-behind 4-3 victory over Melbourne Heart at John Cain Memorial Park this morning. A trio of second half goals from Jack Clisby, Ndumba Makeche and Clayton Arnez earned the visitors all three points to go two points clear of second-placed Central Coast mariners, who have played one game more than Glory Youth. Dusan Bosnjak scored twice and Jeremy Walker once in the op0ening stanza with the visitors only response being a Bradley Treloar own goal.
Melbourne controlled the early proceedings and on 11 minutes Bosnjak found the back of the net with a lovely strike from outside the 18-yard box after poncing on Sam Mitchinson’s poor clearance. Parity was restored two minutes later when Treloar managed to put Slobodan Vulin’s cross past his own goalkeeper. The home team’s dominance was rewarded with a second goal on 26 minutes, Bosnjak tucking in from the penalty spot after Walker’s weaving run was halted by Mitchinson. It was 3-1 just moments later when Bosnjak floated in a cross which Walker rifled past Neil Young.
The half-time introduction of Makeche gave Glory Youth more momentum going forward with the pacey striker causing the Heart defence plenty of problems. A foul on Makeche just after the hour paved the way for Clisby to reel in the difference with a vicious free-kick that gave Nikola Roganovic no chance. The visitors continued to press forward and in the 84th minute Makeche embarked on a long solo run from the middle of the park which he finished by coolly slotting past Roganovic. The winner arrived three minutes later when Makeche set-up Arnez whose tap-in at the far post gave Glory Youth the spoils.
LOWRY COPS RED
Shane Lowry saw red in Millwall’s 6-0 thrashing at the hands of promotion candidates Birmingham City. The 22-year old defender was given his marching orders following an off-the-ball incident with Nikola Zigic midway through the first half with the Lions trailing 1-0. Birmingham were held by Millwall’s ten-men until the dismissal of Alan Dunne just before the hour mark. “Shane’s sending off looked a harsh decision to me and Alan’s, which I had a better view of, I couldn’t really see where it came from to be honest,” said manager Kenny Jacket. Lowry has made 9 appearances for Millwall since being loaned out by Aston Villa in November.
GLORY BREAK INTO THE TOP SIX
Perth Glory’s season is well and truly back on track following this afternoon’s comprehensive 2-1 defeat of Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park. A solitary Shane Smeltz was all Glory had to show for a solid first half workout, and while Kristian Sarkies equalised midway through the second period Steven McGarry made the most of a goalkeeping error to decide the game. The win moves Glory to fifth spot on 21 points, trailing fourth-placed Wellington Phoenix by only goal difference. Ian Ferguson’s side are now unbeaten in four games and will be brimming with confidence for Wednesday’s visit to Sydney FC.
Danny Vukovic was called into the action early with a nervous take from a Sarkies shot. Glory responded with venom in the 16th minute when Smeltz beat Aziz Behich and Bolton to a Liam Miller to fire his side into the lead. The game could have been over at the break had Smeltz been able to make more of a trio of chances, lifting the first high and having two others saved by Bolton, while an attempt by Travis Dodd trickled wide. Melbourne were denied a penalty late when the ball rolled over Bas Van Den Brink’s arm after he had gone to ground, and shortly before the break Sarkies forced Vukovic to tip over a free-kick.
Glory continued to spurn chances after the break with Miller lifting high of the target after meeting a Sterjovski cross. That miss was compounded on 66 minutes when Jacob Burns foul on Eli Babalj led referee Chris Beath to point to the spot, and while Matt Thompson’s penalty kick was saved by Vukovic Sarkies swooped to thump in the rebound. However, the home teams joy was short lived as just two minutes later Bolton spilled a Sterjovski shot and McGarry was first on the scene to net. Both sides had further chances to score, Melbourne substitute Maycon headed into the upright son before Smeltz nodded over a Burns free-kick.
LIVERPOOL LOOK AT WILLIAMS
The dream of Rhys Williams of reaching the English Premier League is edging closer with Liverpool ramping up their interest in the versatile defender. The ‘Daily Telegraph’ have reported Williams’s management have held informal discussions with the Anfield club about a move for the 23-year old. Middlesbrough have already rejected an offer of $6 million from Burnley but the clubs’ resolve will be tested should Liverpool up that amount during the current transfer window or in the off-season. Williams’ ability to play across the defensive line or in midfield has alerted a number of Premier League clubs, including Bolton Wanderers , Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion.
JETS GROUNDED BY GLORY WOMEN
Perth Glory Women ended the W-League season on a positive note with a shock 4-2 win over Newcastle Jets this afternoon at 6PR Stadium. An Katarina Jukic strike was all that separated the teams at the interval with home side pulling away after the turnaround with further goals from Carys Hawkins, Elisa D’Ovidio and Marianna Tabain. Lisa De Vanna and Alanna Kennedy grabbed late consolations for the visitors whose finals hopes were snuffed out by the loss. Glory’s second win of the summer means they’ll avoid the wooden spoon as long as Adelaide, who’ve won once this season, don’t upset Melbourne Victory tomorrow.
It took just 9 minutes for Jukic to post the hosts opening goal, the striker allowed too much space to slot in from an awkward angle. De Vanna almost provided a quick response for Newcastle but her tame shot was cleared off the line. Glory Women nearly doubled their advantage in the 33rd minute when Shannon May’s shot from the edge of the 18-yard box whizzed narrowly wide. After a late D’Ovidio tackle sparked a heated exchange with De Vanna, and tempers again flared boiled shortly before half-time when Emily Van Egmond was involved in a shoving match D’Ovidio.
Glory Women continued to control the game after the break and on 64 minutes were rewarded with a second goal, Hawkins heading in after Tabian’s free-kick cannoned off the crossbar. The game was made safe in the 72nd minute when a lapse of concentration allowed D’Ovidio to take the gap to three goals. De Vanna gave Newcastle hope with a calm finish after being played through, but Tabain responded soon after with an impressive strike from the edge of the box. Kennedy’s stoppage time goal cut the margin to two once again, but it was too little too late for Newcastle.
PLAYERS “FIGHTING FOR THEIR CAREERS”: FERGUSON
Uncertainty over new playing contracts has had a positive influence on Perth Glory's recent form, according to coach Ian Ferguson. Fifteen Glory players are nearing the end of their current deals and Ferguson feels the incentive of securing new contracts had been a driving force behind the club's unbeaten three-game run. "There's definitely a positive effect in that," Ferguson told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian'. "There's players fighting for their careers and they are showing that. That's what we want."
Team captain Jacob Burns and fellow former Socceroo Mile Stejovski are among players coming to the end of their current deals. The others, some with only short-term or injury-replacement contracts, are strikers Billy Mehmet and Adam Taggart, midfielders Tommy Amphlett, Andrezinho, Mile Sterjovski, Steven McGarry, Steve Pantelidis and Victor Sikora and defenders Chris Coyne, Scott Neville, Josh Risdon, Todd Howarth and Dean Heffernan, who signed recently. Defender Trent McClenahan recently left the club after his short-term deal expired.
Ferguson, who has started planning for next season despite his future with Glory being far from secure, said his preference was to recruit players on only short-term deals. "I don't like giving two and three-year deals where people get comfortable and they are sitting with their slippers on and their pipe in their mouth," he said. "I want people that are hungry and I want people that want to go out and give a good account of themselves in every game."
GLORY WOMEN DON’T WANT THE SPOON
Perth Glory Women have set their sights on getting the better of Newcastle Jets and ending their season on a high when the teams meet tomorrow afternoon at 6PR Stadium. However, that’s easier said than done with bottom of the table Glory Women coming off six successive losses and facing a Newcastle outfit needing maximum points if they’re to sneak into the play-offs. “For us it's an unfamiliar position of fighting this weekend for points to avoid our first ever wooden spoon,” said team captain Tanya Oxtoby. “The focus for this week is to put together a 90 minute performance to hopefully get points against Newcastle and end the season on a high."
The teams met just over three weeks ago when Newcastle ran out comfortable 3-1 winners and it really is difficult seeing the re-match finishing any different. Glory Women may have recovered from the mid-season slump which saw them leak goals at an alarming rate and to take so much as point from this game Ella Mastrantonio, Marianna Tabain and English import Katie Holtham need to be in peak form. Newcastle head across the Nullabor determined to collect the win while hoping Melbourne Victory, who currently sit in fourth spot, falter to Adelaide United. Glory Women takes on Newcastle tomorrow at 6PR Stadium in Inglewood from 4.00pm kick-off.
FREMANTLE “FULL OF POTENTIAL”: ATEKHIS
New Fremantle Spirit president Elhossain ‘Nassa’ Atekhis says putting his hand up for the job was the right thing to do, both from a personal point of view as well as for the club. Atekhis kept goal for Fremantle last season and after witnessing their slow decline from close quarters felt it his duty to help the port side out. “Knowing the club was struggling, I had to get involved,” he said. “Under the right management and with a lot of hard work Fremantle is a club full of potential. I always enjoy a challenge and that’s one of the reasons I put my hand up to be president.”
Atekhis may have been Fremantle’s president only a couple of months but it has been long enough for him to stabilise a club that was on the brink of State League extinction. “The main priority at the moment is to keep Fremantle afloat and moving forward,” Atekhis explained. “We need to take things slowly and steadily so we can develop a good squad which will provide our opponents with a good challenge. There are plenty of juniors within the club that we want to be teaching and developing as, ultimately, they are the future of the Fremantle club.”
Aged just 24, Atekhis is the youngest of the State League presidents but what he lacks in experience he more than makes up for in ambition. “Taking on something like this is obviously a challenge at any age, however, Fremantle is a club I am passionate about and want to see it live up to its potential,” he said. “I am happy that I have been given this opportunity, there will be hurdles along the way but I am prepared for them. I am going to put a lot of hard work into this and I know it will pay off.”
The appointment of Ljupco ‘Bobby’ Taneski as coach of Fremantle this week is a big step in the right direction for the club. “Bobby is just what Fremantle needs at this stage,” commented Atekhis. “Bobby is going to bring a lot to the club, both on and off the field. He is going to be effective in teaching, motivating and recruiting our squad, and will play a big part in leading the club forward. Bobby is with us for the long haul, he sees the potential the club has and is passionate about rebuilding Fremantle.”
Taneski has wasted little moulding what will be a new-look Fremantle squad into a cohesive unit. “We have a mix of players from last year and new talent, and we’re also looking to move up some of our juniors,” said Atekhis. “Under new coaching obviously there is going to be a few changes and new methods. We are happy to have players like Sean Treacey, Chris Wollaston, Josh Auguste and Kenny Ftynogiannis join the club. We’re hopeful about our season, with the right mentoring and coaching we can place comfortably.”
One of Fremantle’s major downfalls last year was a lack of depth across the entire club, from first team through to under-18s. “We are hopeful the strategies we are putting into place will mean depth is not a major issue this year,” said Atekhis. “Obviously it’s hard to take over a struggling club and we are going to depend on the support of our community, players and coaches. We all need to work together to turn things around. The players we have moving up within the club gives me confidence we will have a strong under-18 squad.”
Atekhis has every confidence 2012 will bring a change in the fortunes of Fremantle. “We have a good group of staff and a good selection of players, the new committee have some fresh strategies to overcome some of the clubs previous issues, and there is plenty of support from our community,” said the club president. “It’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to happen overnight but I have every confidence in the people working within the club. We all want to see this club succeed and show the Fremantle spirit.”
CLUBS UNITED IN CONCERNS OVER GLORY-INGLEWOOD ALLIANCE
The State League clubs will formally raise their concerns over the proposed Perth Glory-Inglewood United alliance with governing body Football West. The potential impact the alliance will have on the State League, and its member clubs, was the hot topic of discussion at a meeting of club representatives last night at Macedonia Park. "Concerns over the lack of transparency by the negotiating partners (Glory and Inglewood) and the lack of action, or 'head in the sand' attitude by our governing body and its directors were raised," commented Stirling Lions president Don Evans, who chaired the meeting.
Those concerns will be raised with Football West in writing, with a request for Glory owner Tony Sage to address a formal meeting of all State League club presidents later this month. "A letter with all concerns is being circulated for all presidents to consider and sign. This is then to be forwarded to the State League Standing Committee to pass onto Football West once everyone is satisfied with the letters' contents," added Evans. "The members requested Tony Sage attend a presidents meeting on 25 January to explain how the association with Inglewood was of benefit to football in WA."
MCGARRY BOUNCES BACK
A frank and honest discussion with the Perth Glory coaching staff was behind Steven McGarry’s return to the Perth Glory line-up after a frustrating spell on the sidelines. McGarry has been prominent throughout Glory’s recent three-match unbeaten run and hopes to continue to impress coach Ian Ferguson during the upcoming road trip which takes in games with Melbourne Heart and Sydney FC. “I’m delighted just to be back in the team,” the 32-year old said. “The manager will tell you I went in and chapped (knocked on) his door. I wasn’t a happy chappy. I want to play every game. I want to be involved. I want to earn my money.”
Out of contract at the end of the season, McGarry has no intention of this being his last summer in Perth. “The first season I played here we got in the finals and that gave me a little sniff of what I thought was going to be around the corner,” McGarry said. “The town deserves a decent team and I want to be part of that … I want to be part of a team that people remember, that people talk about and say ‘he was part of the finals team, they got a home final and they were a really good attacking team.’ There’s still a long way to go in this season and hopefully we can do it, but I want to be here beyond that as well.”
McGarry, who played close to 400 games in Scotland for St Mirren, Ross County and Motherwell, joined Glory as a striker but has revelled in an attacking midfield role that has allowed him to get forward more than previously. He says he is far better suited to playing just behind the striker and feels that shift in roles has been hugely beneficial. “I’m all about getting forward and getting a few goals and I’ve only scored one,” he said. “I think I’m getting in a lot more positions to get goals as well. I enjoy scoring and I enjoying creating.”
LINCOLN SECURE MCCALLUM
Women’s Super League club Lincoln Ladies have signed Matildas playmaker Collette McCallum for the coming English season. Lincoln manager Glen Harris could not contain his delight at securing 25-year old McCallum from under the nose of several rival clubs. “Collette is a midfielder from Perth Glory who has a vast world of experience,” said the coach. “She has won almost 70 caps for her country, and her time in the American leagues has shown that she can win championships. This is something that we want to do in the WSL, and we are pleased to have her here.”
The recruitment of McCallum along with fellow Matilda Laura Alleway, who has four caps to her credit, shows Lincoln are serious about challenging for the league title. “These are two great players, and I think that everyone else in the league will have to take notice now,” commented Harris, whose team finished fourth in last years’ inaugural Super League. “This is a fantastic sign of our intentions, especially considering that we faced opposition from other clubs for the girls’ signatures”. McCallum and Alleway are expected to join their new team mates on a planned training camp in Majorca early next month.
DAVIES SEES A-LEAGUE AS WAY TO SOCCEROOS
Julius Davies is back in Australia and looking at a possible loan spell in the A-League as a way of completing the citizenship requirements that would pave the way for him to wear the green and gold. Davies, 17, was born in Sierra Leone and arrived in Perth as an 11-year old via the refugee camps of Liberia. The exciting attacker was set to represent his adopted nation at under-17 level three years ago before FIFA intervened and declared he was ineligible because he had not lived in Australia for five years.
Davies then departed for Germany six months short of the five-year limitation and spent two years in the youth system of Bayern Munich before leaving last June to join Bundesliga rivals Hoffenheim on a two-year contract. He played regularly for Hoffenheim's under-19 team and also trained twice weekly with the reserves, but returned to Australia just before Christmas on the advice of his agent, former national league defender Buddy Farah. On his way home Davies stopped in for a week-long trial with Japanese side Tokyo FC.
Farah believes a six-month spell in the A-League – Davies started training yesterday with Melbourne Victory – would not only accelerate the youngsters development but also make him eligible for Australia. "Julius has always made it clear to me his big dream in football is to play for Australia," Farah told Michael Cockerill of the Sydney Morning Herald. "Hoffenheim have been brilliant, they understand the personal reasons behind this (and) Victory have been kind enough to let him train. Nothing's certain, but it would be nice if things worked out."
MADASCHI OFF TO KOREA
Melbourne Heart defender Adrian Madaschi is set to become the latest Australian player to be plying his trade in the K-League. Madaschi, 29, will fly to South Korea this week to undergo a medical with Jeju United and, should he pass, is likely to be offered a contract with the club. Capped five times by Australia, Madaschi has been in stellar form for since joining Heart in September on a ten-week injury replacement deal. His arrival coincided with a form surge for the red and whites which propelled them into third spot in the A-League, level on points with second-placed Brisbane. Madaschi, a former Perth SC junior, played much of the past decade in Europe with Portosumagga (Italy), Dundee and Partick Thistle (Scotland).
TANA OPEN TO GLORY RETURN
Former Perth Glory owner Nick Tana has ruled out supporting a new A-League club in Sydney, but has left open the door for a return to WA soccer. Tana, who was the driving force behind Glory for a decade before pulling the pin in 2006, had considered joining forces with Remo Nogarotto in establishing a new A-League club in Sydney's west. But the WA businessman informed Nogarotto and Football Federation Australia boss Ben Buckley last week that he had decided against joining the push.
Tana says while his passion for football remains as strong as ever, he could not commit to the west Sydney project. "It requires too much of my time away from where my grandkids and family are," he told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian'. "I still maintain that it will be the next success story for football in Australia - as long as it's done correctly. Conceptually, it's the next success story. It will be a winner and it will work thunderingly well."
The Sydney loss could be WA's gain with Tana revealing he will consider returning to Glory under the right circumstances. "I'm always interested in the game succeeding in WA. I always have been and I hope always will be," he said. "I don't believe it's where it should be in this State." In the six years since Tana relinquished control of Glory the club have struggled to make an impact, qualifying for the end of season play-offs with the average crowd slipping to 7,610 for seven home games this term.
Glory's current owner, Tony Sage, has poured an estimated $10 million into the club since 2007 but Tana said he'd have to think carefully before making another financial investment in the club he founded. "Would I put money back into the game? I'd have to give that some serious thought," Tana added. "As it stands at the moment, I did my ten years. We dropped most probably about, all told, somewhere between $9 million and $10 million. Would I want to do my time again? I'd have to give that some serious thought."
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS FOR MAKECHE
Perth Glory Youth striker Ndumba Makeche is at the forefront of a new wave of African players making their mark in Australian football. Makeche, who was born in Zambia, has been instrumental in his teams’ rise to the top of the National Youth League table, leading from the front with 5 goals from only a few outings appearances while fashioning openings for those around him. The teenager has shown he has the potential to go all the way in the A-League, following in the footsteps of Teeboy Kamara (Adelaide United), Bernie Ibini-Isei (Central Coast Mariners) and Kofi Danning (Brisbane Roar).
Makeche, 19, remembers recalls starting his football journey on the dusty streets of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. “After school we’d just play soccer on the street pretty much ‘til my Dad pulled me in,” he commented. “To begin, we had to make our own balls, and we pretty much play barefoot all the time, but growing a bit older we used to go buy balls ... and just play small games against friends around the street. It was pretty much the only thing you’d look forward to, just playing football against your friends.”
It was six years ago that Makeche came to Australia seeking the opportunity of a better future. “I was 14, just turning 15 and came here to pretty much just get a better education,” he said. “My mum originally came here two years earlier to finish a degree off, so me and my brother just came here … It was just a pretty long process with everything, passports and everything, took a good eight, nine months. I was happy to come to Perth but in terms of friends, family, I was sad 'cause I had left all my childhood friends and pretty much had to leave all my family.”
Makeche’s potential first became evident while playing for Stirling Lions in 2008, winning his clubs’ Rookie of the Year after leading the youth team to the league title without defeat. An22-goal winter in 2009 reaped his club’s under-18 Golden Boot and Most Outstanding Youth Player awards. Another Golden Boot, this in the Reserves, and his first team debut arrived twelve months later. An off-season move to Inglewood was rewarded with a first eleven spot and, even though he missed five weeks through injury, fourth on Gold Medal night.
His exploits in the final third of the park had by this stage brought Makeche to the attention of Glory officials, who brought him into their youth squad. Makeche credits coach Gareth Naven for providing him with a whole new level of footballing knowledge, opening his eyes to the importance of structure and playing one’s role in a team. The young marksman hopes he can use this knowledge to land a professional contract, hopefully with Glory, and also set an example for other Africans footballers looking to play in Australia.
ANOTHER WILLIAMS GETS A TASTE OF THE BIG TIME
Young West Australian Ryan Williams stepped up his footballing education with a lively cameo in Portsmouth's 4-0 FA Cup loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. 18-year old Williams, the younger brother of Socceroos defender Rhys Williams, came on in the 70th minute for the Championship side's third-round clash against the English Premier League heavyweights. "What an unreal experience, the fans were crazy!," Williams said on Twitter. Williams, whose twin brother Aryn is at Burnley, has made the most of Portsmouth's financial and injury problems in recent times to push himself to the fringe of the senior team. He made his debut in August and has made half a dozen appearances off the bench this season.
GLORY GRAB LATE WIN AT WELLINGTON
Josh Mitchell’s injury time header snatched Perth Glory a dramatic 1-0 win over Wellington Phoenix from a scrappy encounter at Westpac Stadium. The Glory defender stopped to head in an Andrezinho free-kick three minutes into added time to earn Glory their first A-League win in Wellington, a result which lifts them to seventh on the table. Glory are now unbeaten in three matches, after draws against Newcastle Jets and Brisbane Roar, and travel to Melbourne Heart next weekend high on confidence. Their only disappointment was an injury to captain Jacob Burns, who left the game after 85 minutes following a studs-up challenge by Phoenix captain Andrew Durante.
Strong wind and driving rain ensured quality football would be in short supply throughout the game with both teams struggled to get any continuity in difficult circumstances. Glory adapted to the conditions better and really should have been ahead by the break as Travis Dodd, Liam Miller and Steven McGarry all forced good saves from goalkeeper Tony Warner. Burns and Todd Howarth also saw long-range efforts go wide along with a Steve McGarry header as the home team soaked up the pressure. At the other end Danny Vukovic was rarely troubled as Phoenix struggled to find their rhythm, although the goalkeeper was forced to palm an attempted clearance by Steve Pantelidis past his post.
Phoenix started the second half brightly, immediately putting Glory under pressure with a trio of corners in quick succession. Daniel should have put the hosts in front after 57 minutes but hit the crossbar from 7-metres after a superb build-up involving Leo Bertos, Dani Sanchez and Chris Greenacre. Ten minutes later Shane Smeltz collected a McGarry cross to unleash a vicious shot which came down off the underside of the bar. The game seemed destined to end without score when Tony Lochhead fouled Joshua Risdon, Andrezinho whipped the free-kick into the danger zone where it bounced in front of Mitchell who stooped to nod past a stranded ‘keeper.
GLORY YOUTH SHARE THE SPOILS
Perth Glory Youth will return from Canberra with a well-earned point after a pulsating 4-4 draw with the Australian Institute of Sport at the AIS Athletics Track. The home side scored twice inside 20 minutes through Yianna Perkatis and Anthony Proia only for Glory to turn the game on its head with Brandon O’Neill, Tommy Amphlett and Ndumba Makeche finding the net for a 3-2 lead at the break. Ben Garuccio restored parity early in a seesawing second half which had Makeche post his second before Proia did likewise to again level the game with 25 minutes to go. The all-out assault on goal continued in both direction as the teams searched of a winner and although there were some close calls the afternoon ended with honours shared.
The AIS hit the ground running and with only 3 minutes on the clock Perkatis’ clever back-heel in a crowded goalmouth put the home side in front. The gap was increased on 17 minutes when Proia kept at bay four defenders on his hammer to score a lovely goal from distance. A great curling shot from outside the 18-yard box by O’Neill halved the difference before Amphlett sent a Jesse Makarounas cross from the right into the top corner to bring the teams level after 28 minutes. Both teams peppered the opposing goal in the hope of grabbing another which finally arrived five minutes from the interval, Storm Roux surging goalward before cutting the ball back for an unmarked Makeche to tap in.
The second half was three minutes old when the game was again level courtesy of a great finish by Garuccio. The next twist came in the 57th minute when Makeche nodded over goalkeeper Jordan Thurtell and into the back of the net for his second. Proia matched that achievement eight minutes later by helping himself to a second goal, taking the scoreline to 4-4. With five minutes left Makarounas passed to Makeche, unmarked on just outside the 6-yard box, but Thurtell emerged the hero with a sensational reflex save. The drama flowed through to the final whistle but the frantic pace, coupled with a hot summer’s day, took its toll with neither side able to conjure a deciding goal.
SYDNEY SEE OFF GLORY WOMEN
Perth Glory Women’s miserable season continued with a 3-0 home loss to Sydney FC this afternoon at 6PR Stadium in Inglewood. An early own goal by Tanya Oxtoby was followed by Kyah Simon’s brace to send Sydney into the half-time break three goals the better. Although the second half produced a much improved performance from Glory Women it wasn’t enough to prevent sixth straight loss, plummeting the side to the foot of the W-League table. Glory Women, who have won once in nine games, finish their season next weekend with a home fixture against Newcastle Jets, who must win to if they are to sneak into the finals series.
The ball had been in motion just 6 minutes when the home defence failed to deal with a dangerous Kylie Ledbrook cross which Glory Women captain Oxtoby had the misfortune of turning into her own net. Sydney maintained the pressure and on 22 minutes Simon headed in at close-range from a poorly defended corner. Although two-goal the better, there was no let up from the visiting side as they dominated possession and territory, forcing several good saves out of custodian Mackenzie Arnold. Any hope of an unlikely Glory Women revival was snuffed out on the stroke of half-time when Simon punished further sloppy defending with her second goal.
Glory Women lifted significantly after the break and nearly opened their account through Katie Holtham who worked her way into a good position only to send her shot high of the crossbar. The strong breeze which helped Sydney’s cause throughout the first stanza was now making it difficult for them to get it out of their own half, but even so they still created several chances. The best opportunity arrived on 74 minutes when Caitlin Foord was played through but Arnold did brilliantly to force a goal kick. The home side thought they had a late penalty but the referee ruled against appeals for handball.
RESILIENT RISDON A REASON FOR HOPE (by Jonathon Cook, the 'West Australian')
Perth Glory's Josh Risdon might be considered a player of the future but a series of eye-catching performances has planted him firmly in the here and now. The Bunbury-born defender, who made his A-League debut last season, has seized his recent opportunities to make a positive impression during a campaign that had produced so few team highlights until the thrilling midweek draw against champions Brisbane Roar. Just as he had against Brisbane, Risdon again will be asked to provide resilience and determination in equal measure tomorrow when Glory attempt to break a hoodoo at Westpac Stadium against Wellington Phoenix.
Glory have not won in eight trips to Wellington but 19-year old Risdon believes the current side can build on the draw against Roar and score an upset win. "We will take momentum out of the game against Brisbane and if we go over with the right attitude and a lot of confidence I think we can pinch the three points," he said. "The next few games it's important for us to get back up to the top six. We're not that far off at the moment but it's important to (at least) stay around fifth or sixth."
Coach Ian Ferguson has been delighted with Risdon's response since he returned to the senior side after being dropped to the youth team early last month to regain his self-belief. "He's been outstanding," Ferguson said. "He has come back in the last three games and he's been one of our best players. For me, he's had three absolutely outstanding performances. Everything he's been asked to do he's done and he's done it with confidence. He's going to be a big part of the future of the club."
Risdon was just 14 when he left his family and a life in Bunbury to pursue a career in football. "It was pretty tough moving away from my family and I miss them a lot," said Risdon, who was prompted to move to Joondalup, where he lived with a guardian, by an invitation to train under Kenny Lowe in the National Training Centre program. "But, obviously, going to training four times a week (in Perth) from Bunbury would've been too much (travel), so I had to make the decision to move up. And I've never looked back."
SMELTZ, ANDREZINHO BACK IN FOR GLORY
The attacking presence of Shane Smeltz and Andrezinho will be welcomed when Perth Glory take on Wellington Phoenix on Sunday. However, not all the news is good from the Glory camp with Billy Mehmet, Bas Van Den Brink and new signing Dean Heffernan missing the trip to New Zealand. Smeltz returns to the squad after missing the last two games with a groin problem, while Andrezinho has recovered from a hamstring tear which forced him to watch the last four games from the sidelines.
Mehmet exited the mid-week draw against Brisbane Roar early with scans on Thursday revealing a torn calf muscle. “Billy has been fantastic and losing him is obviously a big blow for us,” coach Ian Ferguson said. “He’s a presence up there and he works his socks off, so we’ll miss that.” Van Den Brink remains out with a hamstring strain while Heffernan cools his heels on the sidelines due to an administrative oversight. Signed as an injury replacement for Scott Neville, not Chris Coyne as the club previously indicated, Heffernan is unavailable until the A-League’s summer transfer window opens on 17 January.
NEWCASTLE ZERO IN ON BIRIGHITTI
Adelaide United goalkeeper Mark Birighitti is close to signing a pre-contract agreement with Newcastle Jets. Out of contract in May, 20-year old Birighitti turned down an offer to join Melbourne Heart in preference for basing himself in Newcastle from next season. Birighitti, a former Perth SC junior, has played second fiddle to Eugene Galekovic over his three seasons with Adelaide, making just nine first team appearances. The move to Newcastle may re-ignite both the domestic and international careers of Birighitti, who has represented Australia on more than 30 occasions at youth level.
“I ALWAYS DREAMED OF BEING A FOOTBALLER”: HERD
Signing a new professional deal with English Premier League mainstay Aston Villa is a dream come true for Chris Herd. The 22-year old recently agreed to a new three-and-a-half year contract which will keep him at Villa Park until mid-2015. In the seven years since he entered their academy system, Villa have benefitted greatly from Herd’s versatility, from his early days as a scholar through to his debut senior in defence. Along the way have been loans to Port Vale, Wycombe Wanderers and Lincoln City plus a couple of outings for the Young Socceroos.
The multi-talented Herd attributes his success to his father Willie, who played professionally in Scotland for over a decade with East Fife, Falkirk, Partick Thistle and Alloa Athletic before stints at Bayswater City and Morley Windmills. “Ever since I was a little boy I had a ball at my feet, kicking it around in the back garden,” said Herd, who wore Bayswater colours as a junior. “My dad coached me when I was growing up, he was heavily involved in football and it just felt natural to follow in his footsteps … I always dreamed of being a footballer.”
This season Herd has gone from strength to strength since being handed a role in the centre of the park by manager Alex McLeish. “I was a right-back for the last couple of seasons but I tried midfield in training and I’ve played the last few games there and I’m enjoying it,” Herd told avfc.co.uk. “The thought process when you are preparing isn’t too different. You get your mind on the job you’ve been given and just do the best you can. I’m just happy to be playing in such a good team. I feel lucky and I will not take it for granted.”
The elevation of former reserve team manager Kevin MacDonald to first team duties has been comforting for Herd. “It has been great having Kev there because I have been with him for a good few years now. He has helped me a lot with my game and he has always got the right words to say,” said Herd, who also thanked youth coach Tony McAndrew. “Tony was a big help for me when I came over as I was only 16. He helped a lot, not just with my football, but by making me feel welcome. He really looked after me.”
One slight disappointment for Herd last year was the ankle injury which ruled him out of Australia’s squad for World Cup qualifiers against Oman and Thailand. “It is a great honour to be selected by Australia and hopefully one day I will get to pull on that jersey,” he commented. “I was disappointed to have to withdraw but my ankle wasn’t right. We decided to sort it out because without playing for Villa I am not going to get picked for Australia … Apparently there was interest from Scotland but I am Australian, that is where I was born and I want to play for them.”
FERGUSON SEES POSITIVES, AND NEGATIVES, IN GLORY PERFORMANCE
Despite Perth Glory producing some of their best football of the season, coach Ian Ferguson came away from last night’s 3-3 draw with Brisbane Roar with mixed emotions. Mile Sterjovski scored twice and Travis Dodd once in a dominant performance that was almost undone by a couple of defensive errors that gave Brisbane a sniff of victory. “The boys were outstanding tonight,” declared Ferguson. “In football terms, that’s the best I’ve seen them. I thought they took the game to Brisbane and I thought they played really well. To go 3-2 down, I think it showed a bit of character as well for the boys ... to keep going.”
However, Ferguson was incensed with how Glory conceded their third goal, a long ball over the defence which Mitch Nichols chipped over goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, who was slow to come off his line. “Danny sort of held his hand up as well and he’s taken the blame. He apologised to the boys when he came in at full-time,” said Ferguson, who was highly critical of his teams defending. “They should still know their basic defending. If one goes in, one’s got to drop (back) and that’s what probably hurt us a little bit tonight, we were caught square.”
STERJOVSKI GETS GLORY A SHARE
A late Mile Sterjovski equaliser earned Perth Glory a 3-3 draw with Brisbane Roar in a dramatic encounter this evening at Perth Oval. Glory surged to a two-goal lead inside the opening half hour through Travis Dodd and Sterjovski only to allow the visitors back into the game as Mitch Nichols and Erik Paartalu levelled the game in the minutes before half-time. Nichols fired Brisbane into a 69th minute lead but Sterjovski was on hand to complete his brace by converting an 80th minute penalty. Glory remains in seventh spot, on equal points with Melbourne Victory, whereas Brisbane returns to second on the A-League table.
It was an entertaining start by both sides who strung together some promising moves over the early exchanges. With 16 minutes gone Glory snuck the lead when Billy Mehmet drew two defenders before slipping the ball through for Dodd to finish with aplomb. The 6,912 strong crowd were on their feet again just eight minutes later as Sterjovski conjured up one of the season’s best goals, the attacker cutting in from the left and from 20-metres unleashed an unstoppable shot over the top of Michael Theoklitos. Glory continued to attack but Mehmet’s close-range effort was smothered by Theoklitos while Todd Howarth chipped just over the cross.
There were some nervous moments for Danny Vukovic also, the Glory custodian called upon to keep out a Paartalu warning shot. Brisbane finished the half strongly and entered the break level courtesy of a devastating five-minute burst. Nicholls reeled in the deficit in the 40th minute by picking the ball up just outside the 18-yard box and rifling a sizzling shot past a static goalkeeper. Brisbane were almost level immediately after the restart but Besart Berisha’s backheel was just wide. They need wait only a few more minutes for Paartalu to rise high above Steve Pantelidis and head in a corner from Brattan.
Glory were firing on all cylinders at the start of the second period which saw Jacob Burns find the target only for his effort to be disallowed for an earlier foul, while Sterjovski hit the bar and Mehmet was thwarted by Theoklitos. There was no such wastefulness from the visitors with Nichols brilliantly chipping Vukovic in the 69th minute after getting on the end of a sensational long ball over the defence by Paartalu. Glory continued to attack and with ten minutes left Sterjovski drilled low into the net after being fouled by Ivan Franjic. Travis Dodd almost stole victory deep in stoppage time but headed narrowly wide from a Sterjovski cross.
MILLWALL EXTEND LOWRY LOAN
English Championship club Millwall have extended the loan stay of defender Shane Lowry until the end of January. Lowry, who is contracted to Aston Villa, joined the Lions on an emergency loan in November and has made eight appearances for the club. The 22-year old will be eligible to play in Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie against Daggenham and Redbridge. Lowry, a former ECU Joondalup junior, entered the Villa academy in 2005 and has gained first team experienced through previous loans to Plymouth Argyle, Leeds United and Sheffield United.
HEART CONSIDERING THEIR OPTIONS ON MADASCHI
Melbourne Heart coach John Van’t Schip is trying to work out how he can keep defender Adrian Madaschi for the remainder of the season. Madaschi has had a massive impact on Heart’s fortunes since joining the club in early November on ten-week injury replacement contract. The A-League club side has lost only once in Madaschi’s eight games, picking up 21 of a possible 24 points, with the defensive unit keeping three clean sheets and conceding just eight goals. But with his deal due to expire in less than a fortnight, the former Perth SC junior is looking towards a more permanent arrangement in Asia.
Heart football director John Didulica wants to sign Madaschi for the rest of the A-League season, however, the best the club can offer at the moment is a temporary future. “Hopefully we can continue to have him with us, but there are so many variables in play with the transfer window open, or opening, in Asia and Europe,” Didulica said. “He’s loved his time at the club. He’s fitted in well and he’s been nothing less than professional in every way. He’s been doing a great job and he’s telling us he’s happy.”
One option being considered is to keep Madaschi on in an injury replacement capacity, then extend his stay further when Heart players are called up for Olyroos duty in February. “We’re hopeful he can stay on for at least another month or two. The player he has replaced, Kliment Taseski, is out for another four to six weeks. After that, we’ve got the Olyroos boys going away, so we’ve probably got an eight to ten-week window we can extend Adrian through to,” commented Didulica. “But ultimately it’s going to depend on Adrian’s overseas ambitions. We’d certainly like him to stay with us for as long as he’s available.”
INJURY FORCES VAN DEN BRINK OUT
Perth Glory has been dealt a serious blow on the eve of their clash against Brisbane Roar with defender Bas Van Den Brink ruled out by injury. Van Den Brink, who has played every minute of Glory’s season so far, failed a fitness test on a hamstring injury this morning and will instead watch tomorrow night’s game from the sidelines with striker Shane Smeltz (groin) and Brazilian import Andrezinho (hamstring). Van Den Brink’s absence is likely to see Josh Mitchell, who has served suspension, partner Steve Pantelidis in the centre of defence.
GLORY FINALLY BRING IN HEFFERNAN
Former Socceroo Dean Heffernan is finally a Perth Glory player, eleven months after putting pen to paper with the A-League club. Heffernan, 31, signed with Glory in February and was immediately loaned to Chinese club Liaoning Hongyun with the intention of returning to Perth in time for the current season. However, those plans were scuppered by a clause written in Chinese which denied the defender release from the loan agreement. “(It’s been) very frustrating,” Heffernan said. “You know, I had the family there as well, we were prepared to come home but in the end you’ve just got to be careful about what it has in the contract.”
Glory has learnt a valuable lesson from loaning Heffernan to Liaoning. “We thought there was a clause in his contract where he would be allowed to come back to us but it was obviously in Chinese and it never worked out that way,” said coach Ian Ferguson, who was also prevented from playing Chris Coyne by contractual obligations at Liaoning in 2010. “It’s something we’ve learnt from that. It won’t happen again. It was a big blow for us. We wanted Dean at the beginning of the season but we eventually got him - better late than never.”
Heffernan, who joins Glory as an injury replacement for Coyne, trained with his teammates for the first time yesterday and is looking forward to working his way into the line-up. “There’s a lot of competition on the left,” he commented. “I’ve been watching Toddy Howarth, he’s doing really well and you know I can play left back, I played left midfield in China as well and centre back so there’s a few options there … I’m just here to compete and hopefully help with the rest of the team and get us where we need to be.”
Heffernan is unlikely to be cleared in time for tomorrow night’s clash with Brisbane Roar at Perth Oval but will go straight into the squad should paperwork be completed in time. “I was looking more towards the Wellington game (in New Zealand on Sunday) but if there’s a chance he gets cleared, I would definitely look at him because he’s a fit boy,” Ferguson said. Heffernan, who has been capped by Australia twice, counts Wollongong Wolves, Sydney United, Central Coast Mariners, Huddersfield Town and Melbourne Heart amongst his former clubs.
Perth Glory striker Billy Mehmet has been cleared to play Brisbane Roar tomorrow night. Mehmet was sent off in the first half of Glory’s weekend draw at Newcastle Jets despite winning the ball cleanly in a challenge with Tiago Calvano. Glory immediately contacted Football Federation Australia to appeal against any suspension that might have been handed down and, on reviewing video evidence, the federation ruled Mehmet should not have been sent off.
Coach Ian Ferguson was delighted to have Mehmet available to play tomorrow, especially in light of Shane Smeltz’s absence due to a groin injury. “I don’t think the referee was totally to blame,” he said. “The player himself had a big part in it because of his actions. Calvano went over the ball and I thought the red card would’ve been for him rather than Billy.” Glory, who snapped a three-game losing streak by drawing 1-1 with the Jets, take on high-flying Roar tomorrow night at Perth Oval (7.00pm).
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This page was last updated on the 3rd January, 2012