LOWE HAS TRICKS UP HIS SLEEVE
Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe says his team's strengths are no longer a secret and it might be time to pull some surprises, starting with tonight's home clash with Brisbane Roar. The league leaders face the defending A-League champions still nursing a two-point lead from second-placed Melbourne Victory despite a winless run that has extended to five matches.
Lowe said his side hadn't become frustrated despite the victories drying up across a month in which it has met fellow title contenders Victory, Adelaide United and Sydney FC. But he said he would be looking for more creativity against Brisbane, at a time when Mitch Nichols and Danny De Silva are fit and healthy again.
Limited supply has left Glory striker Andy Keogh unable to generate as many shots on target, with the Irishman scoring just once in the past five matches. His best chance in last Sunday's goalless draw with Melbourne City was snuffed out by onrushing opposition goalkeeper Tando Velaphi.
"He's had a couple of sniffs," Lowe said of former Republic of Ireland international Keogh. "Last weekend it could have fallen the right way and he could have finished again. We're comfortable with where we are. Andy does a prodigious amount of work for us and also he's very dangerous."
"Obviously everyone's aware of our strengths now," Lowe continued. "We've gone on all season, so they're well aware of how we play. Maybe they're looking to try and negate that, so maybe we've got to come up with something different. We want a little bit of energy, a little bit of intensity, a little bit of creativity."
Attacking midfielder Nichols provided some spark during the final 21 minutes against City on his return from a torn hamstring, but he is not fully fit. "He's not 100%, so I don't think he'd last a full game if we did put him on," Lowe said. "So we've got a little bit of a choice whether we roll him out some time during the game or start him at the beginning then roll him off when he runs out of petrol."
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES PREVIEW - WEEK FOUR
There is a festival of football over the Labour Day long weekend, with games on Friday, Sunday and Monday in the NPL Night Series. There are no games on Saturday as Perth Glory entertains Brisbane Roar at nib Stadium (6pm). It all starts on Friday evening in Group B, when Inglewood United take on the undefeated Perth SC at E&D Litis Stadium (6.30pm) Michael Garcia’s side have lost their last two games, but the new coach isn’t worried. “At the moment we are looking to develop and establish our identity and with a quite a few new players, that may take some time and lead to the odd inconsistent performance or two,” Garcia told the Inglewood United website. “But that is what we are using the Night Series for. Our priority is to make sure we are ready for the season ahead.” Perth’s Marco Santalucia believes they still have room for improvement. “I thought we kept a lot of possession and controlled the tempo of the game against ECU Joondalup, and we were unlucky to get caught on a counter attack, and conceded from a corner,” he said. “We need to work on closing the game out early, as four and five good chances were wasted in the first half.” The defender knows Inglewood have recruited well but believes if they stick to their game plan they can continue their unbeaten start. “Inglewood is always difficult to play against, but if we play our own game and prepare the right way we should win the game,” he said. Perth welcomes back Alex Castiello from suspension for the game. In the late game at E&D Litis Stadium, hosts Floreat Athena go head-to-head with Bayswater City in Group A (8.30pm)
On Sunday it’s to Dalmatinac Park in Group B, and in the early game Armadale meet ECU Joondalup (6pm). Armadale have been in all their games to date, but are still looking for their first victory, and ECU keeper Jamie Serra said they will be concentrating on their own performance and not the opposition. “We are taking each game as it comes, and Armadale regardless of their performances, still allows us an opportunity to strengthen our game play, and correct any errors from the previous matches,” he said. “We will come out and face Armadale like we would face any team, and aim for maximum points.” In the late game hosts Cockburn City will be looking to continue their perfect start to the competition, when they take on Sorrento (8pm)
On Monday Macedonia Park is the venue, for the final Group A games of the round. First up hosts Stirling Lions meet Subiaco AFC (5pm) The Lions had started the tournament well, but last week were on the end of heavy defeat against Floreat. Midfielder David Micevski said they will bounce back this week. “It was a real disappointing result last week, especially after two good opening performances in the competition,” he said. “It’s never ideal losing the majority of your starting line up from last season, and it takes time for all the players to get to know each other. But that gives other players the opportunity to step up and prove their worth at this level.” Subiaco are coming off two good results and Micevski is expecting a tight encounter. “They are playing well and have had a couple of good results, so we will need to be at our best to come away with a positive result,’ he said. Hopefully we will get a few players back this week and build on our second half performance from last week.” In the late game Balcatta meet Shamrock Rovers (7pm)
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES PREVIEW - WEEK FOUR
It’s week four of the State League Night Series this long weekend, and at all starts on Friday night. In Group C Gosnells City take on hosts Rockingham City at Lark Hill (6.30pm), while in the late game Fremantle City take on the South West Phoenix (8.30pm). Fremantle’s Ty Fenwick believes last week good performance against Mandurah City was encouraging. “It was a tough game last week, they (Mandaruh) look like they are going to have a strong year,” said Fenwick. “I thought we played well in patches and are starting to adapt well to our new way of playing this season.” The defender believes this week’s clash will also be tough. “They (South West Phoenix) are starting to play well and it will be another challenge for us,” he said. “We have lost a number of players with injury, but as long as we play the way we can, then we will get the job done.” Also on Friday in Group A, the undefeated Joondalup United meet hosts Kingsway Olympic at the Kingsway Reserve, while the late game, UWA-Nedlands meet Quinns FC.
On Sunday there is another double header in Group B, at Hartfield Park, and first up buoyed by their first win in the competition, Canning City take on Western Knights (5pm), while in the late game Swan United meet Curtin University (7pm). United Coach Salv Todaro is looking for an improvement from his young side after last week’s heavy loss against Melville City. “It was a very disappointing result, which is completely out of character from the boys, and we conceded some very soft goals, but the young lads will learn from it,” he said. United go into Sunday’s game will a number of players unavailable but Todaro said it will give some younger players the opportunity to impress. “We have lost four players this week, due to prior commitments, but it gives teenagers Brendan Borzecki and Majak Lual a chance, and give Callum Burt and Jordan Rosetta, who are coming back from illness, some valuable game time,” he explained. “We will continue to work on our game plan for the season, and it’s a great opportunity to give some exposure to senior football to our youngsters.” Also on Sunday Joondalup City meet Ashfield at Wanneroo Sporting Complex in Group D, while in the late game hosts Wanneroo City entertain Balga in Group A
The round concludes on Monday, when North Perth United meet Ellenbrook United in the early game in Group D at Wotton Reserve (5pm), while hosts Morley Windmills take on Dianella White Eagles in the late game (7pm). Also on Monday the unbeaten Mandurah City take on Kelmscott Roos in the early game in Group C at Hartfield Park, while in the late game Melville City take on hosts Forrestfield United. “I was pleased with the win last week, I thought we have played very well for the last two games, but against Curtin we couldn’t score,” Melville coach Gavin Brown said. “The tournament has been good for us, but I feel we still have some left in the tank. But overall I’ve been pleased with the performances and we’ve given some young players some good experience.” Brown is expecting a tough game, against United, but he is looking forward to the challenge. “It will be a hard game for us, because they are in good form and are at home,” he said. “We’ll have a good go though and see where that takes us, and if we win the last two games there is a chance we could still go through.”
VUKOVIC HOPES TO FIND THAT WINNING FEELING AGAIN
Perth Glory will be looking to end a five game streak without a win, when they entertain Brisbane Roar at the nib Stadium on Saturday evening (6.30pm). Despite the run they will go into Round 19 with a two point buffer over Melbourne Victory at the top of the table, but could slip to second spot, if Adelaide United gets over Melbourne City at AAMI Park tomorrow night.
Glory keeper Danny Vukovic has been in sparkling form between the sticks, and he was buoyed by a solid defensive display in the 0-0 draw with Melbourne City last week, and he hopes they can maintain their lead at the top of the table. “I think we haven’t kept enough clean sheets this season and that was something we wanted to do against Melbourne City,” he said. “We really went out there to keep a clean sheet and prove to ourselves that we could do it and we managed to do it.”
Vukovic, who had trials at Fulham last season, turns 30 at the end of next month, and only trails Newcastle’s Liam Reddy in the number of saves this season (60), praised his teammates through a tough period in the season. “I think we’ve shown that all season, we’ve gone behind at times and looked to be down and out and somehow, we’ve clawed our way back to win games and draw games,” Vukovic said. “That shows that there’s good character in the team and the boys fight hard for each other. We got two draws in two tough places and we’re all looking forward to the game against Brisbane on Saturday night in front of a big home crowd.” In team news Ruben Zadkovich will miss with a tight hamstring, while Daniel de Silva and Brendan O’Neill both return to the squad.
Glory will face a busy Roar outfit, which will fly to Perth straight after their AFC Asian Champions League clash against Beijing Guoan on the Gold Coast, which they were beaten 1-0. They omitted a number of players for the game in midweek; one of them was Jean Carlos Solorzano, the Costa Rican has scored five times in his last six appearances. Other players to return is Brazilian Henrique, while new Serbian signing Andrija Kaluderovic, who scored on debut against the Central Coast Mariners, as well as ex-Western Sydney Wanderers left-back Jerome Polenz, who was also omitted from the Champions League squad.
Roar have won all of their last three games since long-time Roar servants Thomas Broich and Michael Theo returned from injury and have propelled themselves past Melbourne City into the top six. There last A-League game was postponed against Melbourne Victory due to cyclone Marcia.
GLORY TO MUFFLE BUSY ROAR
If ever there is a good time to play the defending A-League champions, Danny Vukovic says it is now. The Perth Glory goalkeeper threw his support behind Brisbane Roar before their AFC Champions League loss to Chinese club Beijing Guoan last night. Vukovic said he was quietly hoping the match would rob their rivals of energy heading into a showdown with Glory at Perth Oval on Saturday night. Brisbane will have to travel to Perth and back up inside 72 hours. They then fly to Tokyo for their next Champions League game, against Urawa Reds next Wednesday.
Vukovic said Glory would be looking to re-establish a strong home record against an opposition he hoped would be underdone. "We know how hard it is to come to Perth," Vukovic said. "It's a long trip over. Brisbane have a game in the Champions League, and we wish them all the best in that game, but hopefully they exert a lot of energy and come over a little bit fatigued on Saturday night. It's certainly a great opportunity for us to get the three points and pull further away from the rest of the teams."
Glory remain top of the table despite a winless run of five matches and a difficult fortnight off the field. Vukovic said the club had shown real character in maintaining top spot for 15 weeks. "When we haven't played well, we've managed to pick up points and I think that's important for a team that wants to be at the top," Vukovic said. "We know we've got better football in us and hopefully we can start hitting our straps towards the finals series." Midfielder Ruben Zadkovich (hamstring) was on light duties yesterday and must prove his fitness to return against Brisbane.
GLORY YOUTH READY TO CREATE CLUB HISTORY
It could be an historic day in the history of Perth Glory Football Club on Sunday, when their Youth team fights out the Foxtel National Youth League title. They head into this weekend’s final game of the season against Brisbane Roar, knowing if they can win and results elsewhere go in their favour, come 1pm on Sunday they could be the Champions.
They sit level on points at the top of the table with Melbourne City, and only three goals separate the two sides. The Glory host Brisbane Roar at the Ashfield Sports Club on Sunday at 11am, but they will know the score of the City game before kick-off, as City travel to Newcastle Jets on Sunday at 9am. If City loses, the game against the Roar will be the title decider, with the visitor’s only two points behind the Glory.
It has been a fantastic season for the youngsters, only losing three times, and being unbeaten on home soil, so win, lose or draw, it has been a season to remember for the young side. Winger Borbor Sam believes they can take out the title. “For everyone, this game is very important, we all know what is up for grabs, and we hope The Jets can do us a favour,” he said. “We have performed well and have a good home record, so all we can do is, go out and try to win, and we will be doing our best.”
Sam, who came through the Football West National Training Centre, under the tutelage of Glory senior Coach Kenny Lowe, and youth team coach John Gibson, says the players are really close together, and that has been a major factor in their success. “Our team isn’t full of individuals, we work as a team, and we’re more like a family,” he explained. “Everyone respects each other and everyone puts in a shift for each other, we attack as a team and we defend as a team. No matter who is selected this week for the game everyone will be ready to give their best. I spoke to Joe Knowles before the start of the season and I told him we can win this league, and now we are one win away from doing so.”
Knowles, who is leading the Youth League goal scoring charts, bagging his 10th goal in the 2-1 win against Adelaide United last week, is ready for a huge game, and is looking to fire the side to the title. “It has been a great season, and I’ve enjoyed helping the side out with a few goals, but without the help of my team mates I wouldn’t be able to do so,” he said. “Goals will be vital on Sunday, for both sides but if we can stick to our game plan and follow the instructions from Gibbo and the coaching staff, I’m confident we can get the right result.”
The side has been lead all season by defender Jacob Collard, and he say’s whatever happens on Sunday he is proud to have captained the side. “This year has been great and enjoyable season, a lot of fun and banter, but also a lot of hard work has been involved by all the players,” he said. “This weekend will be a great challenge and we will be up for it, as we have a chance of winning the league. Nothing will be left on the pitch by anybody, and we will be doing everything we can to create a bit of history for the club.”
The players have the upmost respect for head coach John Gibson, but he believes the player’s work rate and attitude has been spot on from the first training session. “Like I’ve said all season, the players deserve all the credit, they have been superb,” Gibson said. “We have been consistent all season, and have improved dramatically over the course of the season. Our journey continues, we have one more game to go and the challenge will be fun this Sunday, the boys will be playing with their mates, so life if pretty good.”
Gibson, who has been instrumental in nurturing many of the players in the side, through their junior football, believes the current success and the positive vibe at the club, and has permeated throughout the Foxtel NYL squad. “Lowesy is doing an incredible job with the Hyundai A-League team, and Jamie has done a fantastic job with the Westfield W-League team,” he said. “For us nothing changes, we understand the significance of the game but we are consistent with our message, becoming better at our processes. As per normal, the process dictates performances and we focus on improvement.” Get along and support the youngsters - Kick-off is 11pm on Sunday morning at Ashfield Sport Club
WA YOUNGSTERS ON TRACK FOR CANBERRA
Three WA youngsters will be involved in Football Federation Australia training camps at the Australian Institute of Sport’s Centre of Excellence in Canberra, .after being identified as having the potential to represent the country at youth level. Football West NTC players Ethan Brooks, Jaydon Selden and Jacob Young were identified as potential Joeys during last year’s National Youth Championships and National Training Centre Challenge.
Young, who is the son of former Hull City, Scunthorpe United and Perth Glory striker Stuart, was injured in the NTC Challenge, but did enough to be selected to attend the training camp, and enjoyed the experience. “Unfortunately I fractured my wrist in the second game out of the eight games I was supposed to be playing in, but it was good to get a feel of what those sorts of tournaments were about and also to compare myself to players outside of WA,” he said. “Going to the AIS has been a good eye opener as to what could possibly come next in my footballing career. I hope I have made a good impression on the national team coaches.”
The 14-year-old central defender played his junior football at Warnbro Strikers, has grown up in the shadows of his father’s exploits in the NSL with Wollongong Wolves and the Glory, but he says his dad has been a huge part in his football development. “My dad has been the biggest influence on my football right from the start,” Young said. “He keeps me grounded and tells me what I need to improve on. He helps me on a weekly basis to help me to improve on certain aspects of my game and constantly encourages me to be the best I can be, but it is funny, I’m trying to stop the ball going in the net, but my dad tried to score them.”
He would like to follow in the steps of his father, and play at the top level, and he believes he has had some great help along the way in Perth. “Being a professional footballer is a dream I've had from a young age. I want to play at the highest level I can in Australia or overseas,” he said. “Mark Lee and Barry Wood coached me from the ages of 7 to 13, and their passion and love for the game inspired me and made me the player and person I am today. Lately Perth glory coaches’ Callum Salmon and Kenny Lowe have also helped in my development for the last two years.”
Football West Technical Director Cris Ola said the boys were well equipped to adjust to the demands of national training camps. “These boys have outstanding potential to step up to a high performance and competitive environment and continue the tradition we have in WA of developing quality young players,” Ola said. “Jacob is a great left-footed centre back and is excellent both in air and on the ground. Ethan and Jaydon are quick and unpredictable attacking players who could develop into future match winners.”
HAMMERS TO REMEMBER DYLAN TOMBIDES
West Australian footballer Dylan Tombides, who tragically passed away in April 2014, will be remembered this weekend when the DT38 Foundation is launched at West Ham’s Premier League clash with Crystal Palace at Upton Park. It will be poignant day for the Tombides family, and family friend Dean Evans will also be in attendance. Evans was saddened at the passing of Dylan and he knew he had to be there to celebrate his mate’s life. The new Perth Soccer Club midfielder said the new foundation is a great memorial for Dylan. “He was so dedicated to football and his loss still hurts,” Evans said. “The foundation is a fantastic legacy, and everyone’s thoughts are with Tracy, Jim and Taylor on the anniversary of his passing – miss you mate!!!”
The coinciding fixture last term came after the news of Tombides’s passing at 20 years of age from testicular cancer. Then on a moving afternoon, Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak scored the winning goal for Palace, dedicating it to the talented striker. The fixture now holds a special meaning for both clubs, remembering a player who was a talent on the pitch, and highly regarded off it. He made such an impact on the Hammers that the club retired his No.38 jersey. DT38 is a foundation which aims to “change the way testicular cancer is diagnosed”. The disease is the most common cancer for men between the ages of 15 and 40, and the foundation hopes to raise awareness as well as educate to help prevent the disease.
During his three-year battle with the disease, Tombides was initially misdiagnosed, and part of the foundation’s campaign is the hashtag #delayisdeadlygeteducated. “Dylan was robbed of a future that he dreamed of as a young boy. It robbed Taylor of a brother and it robbed my husband and I of watching our beautiful son grow and fulfil his dreams. Please do not let this happen to your son, brother, friend or father,” writes Tracy Tombides on the DT38 Foundation website. To donate to the foundation go to https://dt38.co.uk/ - If you have a concern with your testicles please see a doctor straight away and insist on an ultrasound – it may just save your life
PRE-SEASON HICCUPS DON’T PHASE GARCIA (courtesy Inglewood United)
Michael Garcia won’t allow an occasional flat performance to derail his preparation for the coming National Premier Leagues season. Back-to-back losses have put Inglewood United on the cusp of an early exit from the Night Series, however, Garcia, who was appointed first team coach in late August, has every confidence his side is on course to improve on the efforts of last season.
“At the moment we are looking to develop and establish our identity and, with quite a few new players and the squad not yet settled, that may take some time and lead to the odd inconsistent performance or two,” Garcia commented. “But that is what we are using the Night Series for. Our priority is to make sure we are ready for the season ahead.”
Sunday’s poor showing against Sorrento, who claimed victory by 2-0, was an important part of that learning curve. “We lacked intensity and gave the ball away to our opposition far too often, causing ourselves more problems than we may have had if we’d been more composed in possession,” said Garcia, a former Australia youth international.
“We had our chances to score, they had a few themselves,” he added. “One of their goals was from our mistake and I thought we had a fair penalty shout turned down – had that gone our way it may have changed things. In the end though, regardless of the scoreline, the performance was below that of our previous two games.”
A lot has been achieved in Garcia’s first six months at the helm and the 37-year old feels he has all the ingredients for 2015 to be a success. “I’m learning about the requirements of coaching on and off the park at senior level and the players are still getting used to my style of coaching,” he said. “That chemistry may take a while but I’m confident we are on the right track.”
“We have a good squad, it’s not yet finalised as there are players we are still looking at and others that are injured or going away during the season,” Garcia continued. “At this stage we haven’t set any goals for the league but, obviously, we want to finish as high up the ladder as we can. For me, the first checkpoint is ensuring we improve on last year’s result.”
THE SKIES ARE BLUE FOR KERR
New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC have added Samantha Kerr and Caitlin Foord to their roster for the coming National Women's Soccer League season. Kerr is no stranger to football in the United States, the 21-year old making 39 appearances for Western New York Flash across two seasons before returning to Perth Glory Women late last year. Foord was also part of the Glory Women squad which reach the 2014 W-League final.
“I look forward to joining all my new teammates and meeting all the staff and fans of Sky Blue,” Kerr commented of her move. “I would like to take this opportunity also to thank the staff and fans of the Western New York Flash for my time at the club, but I am looking forward to a new challenge and helping Sky Blue be successful in the 2015 NWSL competition.”
Sky Blue coach Jim Gabarra is delighted Kerr and Foord will join his club at the conclusion of Australia’s participation in the upcoming Women’s World Cup in Canada. “These signings are going to give our club a real boost over the second half of the season,” he said. “Even though Caitlin and Samantha are still at a really young age, they have a lot of experience at the international level and in our league. I am looking forward to them continuing their huge developmental trajectory.”
PLAY STATION 4 NPL-WA FIXTURES ANNOUNCED
The 2015 Play Station 4 National Premier League – WA fixtures have been released with the opening game on Saturday March 28th. Bayswater City will begin their title defence against Subiaco AFC at Frank Drago Reserve. Perth SC, who was beaten in last season’s Grand Final, will entertain ECU Joondalup at Dorrien Gardens.
In other round one fixtures Stirling Lions entertain Balcatta in a local derby at Macedonia Park, Armadale host Inglewood United at Alfred Skeet Oval, while Inglewood United and Cockburn meet at Intiga Stadium. The game between Perth Glory and Floreat Athena at the E&D Litis Stadium will not be played on the opening day; they will play the game on April 25th, as the Anzac Day fixture.
The rivalry round games will continue this season, and crowd figures from last seasons showed a spike in attendance to these games. The governing body has again encouraged clubs to embrace the concept, with games to be played on April 18th and July 19th, although the northern suburbs derby between Sorrento and ECU Joondalup will take place on Friday April 17th at Percy Doyle Reserve.
The majority of the fixtures will take place at the traditional 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, but seven matches will be played on Sunday afternoon.
After consultation with the clubs, there will be no final series this season, with the team finishing top of the table to represent the state in the PS4 NPL National Finals Series. But this season there will be relegation, and the team finishing bottom of the table can be relegated, if the First Division Champions meets all competition criteria. PS4 NPLWA manager Chris Beech said the fixtures had been finalised after months of direct consultation with clubs. “All clubs have been fantastic to deal with over the past few months while we were going through the planning process,” Beech said. “We have been working with all clubs since December to bring together a fixture format that tries to cater for the sometimes conflicting hopes of each club. Season Two of the PS4 NPLWA promises to be an exciting one with some fantastic clashes already occurring in the NPL Night Series.”
INJURY SETBACK FOR ECU MIDFIELDER (courtesy of ECU Joondalup)
It has been a frustrating start to the 2015 season for ECU Joondalup midfielder Jon Stynes, having to sit out with a knee injury. The 21-year-old headed back to Perth last season, after a stint with Kilmarnock and Cambridge in the UK, but he is looking forward to getting back on the pitch sooner rather than later. “I have inflammation of tendons in my knee, so I have had to take a break from the game for few months, which is really frustrating,” he said. “I’ve missed most of the pre-season and all of the Night Series, but slowly I’m slowly getting there. The injury has put me on the back foot, but once I’ve recovered I hope to be back scoring goals for the club, and helping the team finish as high up the table as possible.”
It was a great start to the 2014 season for the Northern suburbs club, but after a disappointing Cup Semi-Final loss the season slipped away. “We were up there towards the top of the table throughout the start of the season, but we fell away towards the end,” he explained. “The Semi-Final loss was hard to take, because we were looking forward to taking on one of the A-League teams, but that loss has only motivated us to go further in the competition next time.”
The clubs only top flight title came in 1999, and Stynes believes the league has improved and the squad they have, they can challenge for a top four spot. “Our target this season is to be more consistent, so we can challenge for that top four which is definitely achievable with the squad we have,” he said. “There have been some good additions to the squad, which has added good depth, and created competition for places, which we were maybe lacking last season. After coming back from the UK I’ve seen the league grow so much, and I’m enjoying playing my football back in the NPL.”
Dale McCulloch has added David Annall to the coaching staff this season and Stynes believes it has been a great move. “David has been great so far, he really encourages players to express themselves on the park, and he works well of Dale, and they have the same football ideas, which can only help the club,” he explained. “This has definitely benefitted the younger players we have in our squad, when they step up to the first team, which we have seen in the Night Series with Bayley Brown-Montgomery, Roland Rixer, Harry Bissett and Oliver Annis all playing well.”
'FORGOTTEN MAN' BABALJ RELISHING FRESH START
Revitalised Socceroos striker Eli Babalj emerged from two years of darkness at the weekend for new Dutch club PEC Zwolle. On loan from AZ Alkmaar until the end of the season, Babalj gained his first senior start for any club since early 2013 in PEC's 3-2 loss at ASO Den Haag. Having come off the bench against Go Ahead Eagles the previous week, Babalj can see the light again. "I thought I had become the forgotten man," he admitted. "My last start for a club was with Melbourne Heart."
"Football is weird, it can turn around in one day – at the moment just thinking about next week’s game against Vitesse," Babalj added. "You miss playing in big games like this. I feel like a kid again. It's good to show people I am still alive. I felt good in playing 85 minutes against Den Haag. I felt comfortable and didn’t feel I was lagging. It showed me I can play at this level. The more time I get, the quicker I will run into form and be able to offer more. It’s not easy being out for so long."
After an ill-fated spell with Red Star Belgrade, Babalj was sold back to Heart but then moved again when AZ came calling, only to suffer a ruptured adducter tendon and hernia. Surgery ruled him out for six months and after returning for the reserves he suffered another setback with a second hernia operation sidelining him again. "This is a fresh start for me at a club doing well," he said. "After not playing for so long it's about getting as many minutes as I can and getting that sharpness and momentum back."
GLORY NOT ALL ABOUT DEFENCE: THWAITE
Michael Thwaite says Perth Glory still intend to play an attacking game as they seek to shore up their place at the top of the A-League table. The Glory captain was swung into a defensive midfield role in Sunday's scoreless draw with Melbourne City to help his team achieve just their third clean sheet of the season. The result, which lifted Glory two points clear of second-placed Melbourne Victory, came on the back of a more defensive brand of soccer.
The visitors had just one shot on target, but almost snatched all three points late as Andy Keogh's charge to goal was thwarted by a brave challenge by City keeper Tando Velaphi. Thwaite denied the game style was a sign of things to come as Glory prepare to host defending champions Brisbane Roar on Saturday night. "We want to be better," Thwaite said. "We want to create more chances. We want to play more attacking football, but we're very happy with where we are at the moment."
"The way we analyse the game is that when we are open and free-flowing and we're scoring a lot of goals, we seem to concede a lot as well and not win games," he continued. "Of course we want to make the fans happy and play this attractive brand of football, but there's both ends of the field. This week we made a real conscious effort to shore up the defence and get a clean sheet. It is very important in terms of aiming for big things this year. You need to be able to keep clean sheets."
GALLOWAY EXTENDS STAY IN MELBOURNE
Melbourne Victory have secured the services of teenage defender Scott Galloway through to the end of the 2016/17 A-League season. Perth-born Galloway has made 38 appearances for Melbourne since making his national league debut in the 2012 derby against Melbourne City, in addition to 18 appearances for Australia at youth level. Galloway, 19, and Rashid Mahazi, 22, are the lasted youngsters to agreed two-year extensions with Melbourne, following 21-year olds Connor Pain and Jason Geria.
"Melbourne Victory is the biggest club in the country and I've enjoyed my time here, it's been amazing and I want to continue my career at Melbourne Victory," Galloway said. "I feel my progression as a footballer is only going to enhanced being at this club, especially working with a great group of coaches led by Kevin, so it's the best environment for me to be in moving forward. You just look at our crowds that come week in, week out and show their passion for the club, they are always amazing and it's a club with a proud history that I want to be a part of."
DJULBIC PENS NEW TWO-YEAR DEAL
Perth Glory plans to remain an A-League force have been bolstered with news central defender Dino Djulbic has signed a two-year contract extension. 32-year old Djulbic has played 17 times so far this season, adding to the 27 appearance he made between 2007 and 2009. “You can see what the boys have done in eight months together, imagine what we can do over the next couple of years together. I hope we stay together and build towards the future," he commented.
Djulbic said he’s enjoying his football under Kenny Lowe, who has been a big factor in his decision to commit to the club. “I’ve known Kenny for a long time and he’s been a big influence on my football. He was a big part of the reason I decided to come back," he added. “Deciding to stay for the next two years was made easier when I knew Kenny was going to be here for the long term."
Djulbic firmly believes that success is not too far away for Glory. “Silverware definitely comes into the equation,“ he said. “Obviously we’re top of the league at the moment and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to stay at Perth Glory. We’re getting pretty close to team success, I think.” With his father, Esad, battling Melanoma, and his wife and young son settled in Perth, Djulbic said that staying with Glory was always his preference.
GLORY AND CITY SHARE THE SPOILS
Perth Glory had to settle for a share of the spoils, in a 0-0 draw against Melbourne City at AAMI Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The point moves Kenny Lowe’s side two points clear at the top of the table, but it makes it six games without a win which is a concern. Skipper Michael Thwaite moved in to a defensive midfield role in place of Ruben Zadkovich, with Dino Duljbic returning after missing last week due to suspension, and Lowe was happy the way it went. “It was a bit of a gamble, I don't think he was keen to do it," he said. "We talked him into it. Flipside is he says he's a midfielder now, so he wants more cash."
The home side was on top early and former Glory defender Jack Clisby fired wide after only five minutes, before Danny Vukovic saved low from Jacob Melling’s snap shot. City were dominating and new signing Kew Jaliens whipped in a cross to Josh Kennedy, and the former Socceroo’s shot was pushed over the top by the alert Vukovic.
The Glory custodian was keeping his side in the game, and on 20 minutes he had to block Melling’s long-range, and moments later Melling tried his luck again, but it flashed wide of the target. The first opportunity for the visitors came on the half hour, Sidnei Scolia racing past three defenders, but his shot was well over the top. It was better signs from the Glory and moments later Andy Keogh won possession of Jaliens on the left, cut inside the box but his curling shot whistled wide of the far post.
City still looked dangerous and when Kennedy was sent clear five minutes before the break, but with the goal in his sight, Thwaite got back with a great last ditch tackle. The glory were ended the half the better, but Josh Risdon and Nebo Marinkovic’s long-range shot were off target, before Harold headed inches over from Scott Jamieson’s teasing cross.
The Glory began the second half the way they ended the first and Sidnei made space down the left and whipped in a dangerous cross, but none of the Glory player can get on the end of it. Then on 50 minutes City went close to the opener. Aaron Mooy’s cross picked out the unmarked Jalien’s who headed over from eight-yards. The Glory had the ball in the net on the hour, Risdon’s cross found Keogh, but the Irish striker was ruled offside.
Then five minutes later Risdon and Keogh combined again, the defenders cross picked out the striker, who lost his marker, but the ball drifted just wide of Tando Velaphi’s far post. Then in the first minute of stoppage time, the Glory had the chance to take all three points. City’s free kick was punched clear by Vukovic, sending Mitch Nichols in the clear, his superb through ball sent Keogh, one-on-one with Velphi, but the former Glory custodian raced out of his box to block his shot, and the points were shared.
GLORY YOUNGSTERS SET UP FINAL DAY SHOWDOWN
Perth Glory Youth continued to keep the pressure on Melbourne City at the top of the Foxtel National Youth League ladder after a hard fought 2-1 win against Adelaide United at the Adelaide Football Shores Sporting Complex on Sunday morning. Joe Knowles scored his 10th goal of the season to give the youngsters the lead, before Harry O’Brien added a second just before half time. A late goal from Dylan Smith gave the home side a sniff, but the Glory played out the game, and drew level with City at the top of the table, setting up a thrilling end to the season next week.
It was a warm day in the South Australian Capital and it was an even opening, but chances were few and far between. The visitors knew a win was essential if they were to keep their title hopes alive and on 36 minutes they hit the front. Slobodan Vulin, who had replaced Daniel De Silva who was ill in the warm up, in the starting line-up, played the ball over the top to Borbor Sam. Adelaide keeper John Hall raced out his goal, but his attempted headed clearance fell to Knowles, and the striker fired home into the empty net.
The goal lifted the Glory, and they looked dangerous on the counter attack, with Sam and Knowles a constant threat. But the home side pressed late looking for the equaliser, but the Glory defence had to be strong as the home side pushed forward. Then in the shadows of the break it got even better for the Glory, when they doubled their advantage. Knowles’ in swinging corner picked out O’Brien at the near post and the midfielder headed home from close-range.
Glory defender Nathan Costello was first into the book in the first minute of the second half, and was followed moments later by Adelaide’s Christopher Skull. The hot conditions were taking its toll on both side and again referee Jarrod Mullar signalled for a drinks break halfway through. Adelaide was having plenty of possession but was struggling in the final third. The Glory should have wrapped up the points on 80 minutes. De Silva, who had come on five minutes early, was sent one-on-one with Hall, but the Adelaide custodian stood tall and saved.
But with the finishing line in sight the home side pulled one back on 87 minutes. Good work by Mark Ochieng, ended with him cutting the ball back to Smith who fired past Jordan Thurtell. It set up a nervous last six minutes, but the Glory held out, and with the win moves them level on points at the top of the table, and next week the title goes down to the wire, with only three goals separating the sides. The Glory host Brisbane Roar at the Ashfield Sports Park at 11am, while Melbourne City travels to Newcastle Jets.
FORRESTFIELD IN HARD FOUGHT WIN AGAINST KNIGHTS (courtesy Forrestfield United)
Friday night saw the clash of the top of Group B table with Forrestfield United meeting the Western Knights. After a cautious fifteen minutes in which both teams vied for ascendency it was Western Knights that were looking the most threatening with some excellent passing moves that were slicing through the Forrestfield defence. Unfortunately for the visitors their finishing was missing and when on target they were efficiently dealt with by an in form Brad Eiffe in goal. After some thirty minutes, Forrestfield had settled and began to get their passing game happening with good link play via Trent Wood and Chris Perrott and it was the latter that unleashed a shot from 25 metres that had the Knights’s custodian beaten but unfortunately it crashed of the crossbar and was cleared by an alert defence.
Forrestfield then had a couple of corners that caused some concern for the Knights, with the ball first falling at the feet of Chris Perrott who prodded the ball towards goal but was cleared off the line and the second to Jason Godfrey who could not get enough power on the shot. Knights broke through on two to three occasions later in the half but could not manage to trouble the Forrestfield goal, with shots placed either wide or over the goal. Half time 0-0.
It was end-to-end football with both teams trying to get the upper hand, and it wasn't until the 70th minute when Forrestfield got the break-through. With Wood passing to Malcolm Tshuma who cut the ball back to Kaan Karacan. His delicate pass to Chris Perrott was met with a powerful shot that was deflected off a Knights defender and past the hapless keeper into the back of the net.
The goal forced the Knights Coach to change his structure to all out attack and that is what they did. Numerous forward moves were being thwarted by the Forrestfield defence led by Jason Godfrey and Nathan Watkins and any shots that were goal bound were being dealt with by Brad Eiffe in goal. Forrestfield then had the chance to close out the game when Malcolm “Butterfly” Tshuma was put through one-on-one with the keeper, but his shot was tame and easily saved by the keeper. The final minute Western Knights had a guilt edged opportunity to get a draw when the ball looped over Jason Godfrey who lost his footing in trying to clear the danger. The ball fell nicely to The Knights captain who shot straight at Eiffe who saved yet again.
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES REVIEW - WEEK THREE
In Friday’s games Cockburn City continued their perfect start to the NPL Night Series with a 2-0 win against Armadale at Dalmatinac Park. It was a hard fought with 45 minutes, but the hosts hit the front five minutes after the break. Armadale failed to clear a corner and the ball dropped to Alan Carroll who finished low from four meters. The points were secured for Cockburn in the last minute, Liam Murray on the end of a cross to finish from six meters. In the late game Subiaco AFC won for the first time in the competition after a 3-0 win against Shamrock Rovers. Ian McMurray fired home the first after four minutes, after good work from Josh Booysen. Rory Feely doubled their advantage before half time, before Booysen added the third from the penalty spot after Matthew Akehurst was brought down in the penalty area. Shamrock finished with ten men when Paul Concannon sent off on the hour.
In Saturday evenings early game Balcatta and Bayswater fought out a 2-2 draw. Balcatta were ahead after only 10 minutes, Alex Caniglia played a one-two with Darcy Cosgrove on the edge of the penalty area, and superbly curled the ball into the top corner of the net. Bayswater hit back four minutes later; Steve Burton scoring from close-range after Ryan Baker had spilled Todd Howarth’s long-range shot. City was ahead on the half hour, Chris Saldaris heading home David Heagney’s free kick, but the points were shared on 66 minutes. Skipper Adam Tong sent Caniglia racing down the left; he cut the ball back to James Sammut, who finished low past Devon Spence. In the late game Floreat Athena thrashed Stirling Lions 6-2. The game was over as a contest at the break, with Floreat racing to a 6-0 lead, with doubles from Andrew Scaldaferro and Lewis McMahon, and singles to Kris Gate and Ludovic Boi. The Lions scored two consolation goals late in the second half through Lawrence Shuruma and Benny Kouakou.
In Sunday’s game Sorrento won for the first time in the tournament after a 2-0 win against Inglewood United at Dorrien Gardens. Jack Salter put the Gulls ahead on the quarter hour, before doubling it two minutes before half time. In the late game Perth SC beat ECU Joondalup 4-2. Perth was ahead on the quarter hour Reece Vittiglia drifting past two ECU defenders and firing low past Jamie Serra. But ECU were level on 21 minutes, Danny Dixon playing in Bayley Brown-Montgomery, whose shot deflected off Calum O’Connell and sending it wide of Alex Dunn. Perth regained their lead on 36 minutes with Aden De Luz getting on the score sheet. But on the hour ECU levelled again, skipper Ryan Lowry volleying home from a corner. Then the home side hit the front again ten minutes from time when substitute Nick Ambrogio lost his marker and fired home, before Carlo Coelho added the fourth late.
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES REVIEW - WEEK THREE
Week three of the State League Night Series began on Friday in Group B, when Forrestfield United beat Western Knights 1-0 in the early game at Hartfield Park. The only goal of the game came from Chris Perrott, moving United to the top of the table. In the late game Canning City won for the first time in the Night Series, with Yohann Crampon goal giving them a 1-0 win against Curtin University. City Coach Paul Oliver was happy to get his first win as a senior coach, but more about his sides improved performance. “A much improved display and hopefully a sign of things to come,” he said. “We retained possession well and always looked threatening in the final third, but there are still lots to work on and we will work hard through the week in preparation for a tough encounter against the Knights next week.”
Also on Friday in Group C, Mandurah City maintained their perfect start after a 4-2 win against Fremantle City. Jeff Bright gave the hosts the lead, before Clayton Stone levelled for the visitors. Skipper Andy Brown gave Mandurah the lead again, and Abe Tcuoma made it 3-1. Fremantle weren’t out of it and Connor Shaw pulled one back, but a goal three minutes from time from Joe O’Brien made sure of the win. In the late game South West Phoenix won for the first time after a late Lee Stewart goal gave them a 1-0 win against Rockingham City.
On Saturday night in Group A, hosts Wanneroo City opened their account in the competition after Connor Lynch and Brandon Prince goals gave them a 2-0 win against Kingsway Olympic. In the late game Joondalup United maintained their perfect start to the competition with a 2-1 win against UWA-Nedlands. United opening scoring through Lee Jones, the striker reacting quickest when the keeper spilled Arran Maplestone’s shot, before Jones doubled their advantage with a close-range header, the UWA goal was scored by Kieran Devitt from the penalty spot. In Group D, Ellenbrook United and Morley Windmills fought out a goalless draw at Wotton Reserve.
While in the late game Ashfield and North Perth United fought out an entertaining 3-3 draw. Mark Curran put the Sunday Premier League Champions ahead early, before Jay Lang levelled from the penalty spot. Rory Grant put United back ahead finishing after a poor back pass, before Parviz Guchy equalised for Ashfield before the break. United hit the front again through Steve Henry, but Ashfield hit back to take a share of the spoils eight minutes from time. Lang scoring his second with a stunning shot from the edge of the penalty area. Lang had an opportunity to win for Ashfield with their final play of the game, but Lang’s header was well saved by United’s keeper Andy Stewart.
In Sunday’s games Melville City beat Swan United 4-1 in the early game at Hartfield Park in Group B. City’s goals coming from Blake Readwin, Logan McIsaac, Will Kinsey, Mitch Barrington, United’s consolation coming from Matthew Bonasera. In Group A, Quinns beat Balga 5-3 at Kingsway Reserve; results from the other games are not available.
BABALJ EARNS FIRST START IN NETHERLANDS
Striker Eli Babalj started up front for PEC Zwolle for the first time, in the Dutch League loss to ADO Den Haag. Babalj had come off the bench in Zwolle's defeat to Go Ahead Eagles last week, but the Socceroos finisher was given the nod from kick-off against Den Haag. Fellow West Australian Trent Sainsbury remained on the bench for the entire encounter in what was Babalj's second match for the club since moving on loan from AZ Alkmaar. He was replaced in the 84th minute and watched as Zwolle equalised in stoppage time only for den Haag to snatch a last=-gasp winner.
TAGGART KNOCKS CHELSEA OUT OF CUP
Striker Adam Taggart was delighted to see Fulham progress to the semi-finals of the Premier League International Cup after an incredible 4-3 win over local rivals Chelsea on Thursday evening. In a topsy-turvy game the Whites found themselves three-two down before clawing their way back with Taggart striking late to seal the win. “It was good,” he told fulhamfc.com. “We are disappointed to concede three goals but at the same time we showed the character we needed to win the game by scoring four, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.
Taggart has endured a frustrating start to his Fulham career, having undergone groin surgery in September. Now back to full fitness, he has shown his value by netting four goal in his last four appearances. “It was a tough start being injured for so long,” he said. “Now I’m back and getting into a rhythm of games. It’s really nice to be back, I’m feeling 100%, so hopefully I can kick on. All the boys have been fantastic and are giving me some great opportunities on the pitch. I have to praise the boys behind me to get me the ball in good positions.”
Taggart’s winner came late on when he showed his striking instincts to react quickest to Tim Hoogland’s knock-down from a corner. “I saw big Tim coming in at the back stick so I just made sure I got in front of my man so that I could tap in,” he explained. “Any number nine loves a good tap-in! It was nice to get the winner but full credit has to go to all the boys who fought the whole game and really dug deep, because for a lot of the game we were under the pump a fair bit. But it just goes to show that as long as you can stay disciplined and keep the work rate up then you can always get the win, so it was nice to walk away with the victory.”
The striker was also full of praise for the International Cup competition which is in its first year following its launch in the summer. “These are the games you want to play in,” Taggart commented. “It’s important to play really competitive matches. I think the tournament is great, to play all the best clubs around Europe, and what better way to get to the semi-final than by beating Chelsea. It’s another step in the right direction. We need to make sure we have the same attitude and same character to go all the way and get to the final.”
GLORY RE-SIGN DJULBIC
Perth Glory central defender Dino Djulbic has signed on for two more years, further boosting Glory’s plans to ensure it remains a force in the Hyundai A-League. The 32-year old returned to Glory for his second stint, during the off-season, on a one year deal but this week, signed on until the end of 2017. Djulbic has appeared 17 times this season for the Hyundai A-League leaders and has also proved to be handy in attack. He scored a sensational header to open the scoring in the Round 6 match against the Asian champions, Western Sydney Wanderers and in Round 8, opened the scoring again with a cracking volley against Brisbane Roar.
During his previous stint at the club he made 27 appearances (between 2007 and 2009) and is set to play his 50th Hyundai A-League match in Glory colours this year. The proud father of one, said he wants to be part of a strong Glory squad going forward, and has warned there's plenty of improvement to come. “You can see what the boys have done in eight months together; imagine what we can do over the next couple of years together. I hope we stay together and build towards the future.”
Djulbic said he’s enjoying his football under Kenny Lowe, who has been a big factor in his decision to commit to the club. “I’ve known Kenny for a long time and he’s been a big influence on my football. He was a big part of the reason I decided to come back, him being a part of the club.” “Deciding to stay for the next two years was made easier when I knew Kenny was going to be here for the long term,” he said.
The 32-year-old firmly believes that success is not too far away for Perth, and he wants to be a part of it. “Silverware definitely comes into the equation. Obviously we’re top of the league at the moment and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to stay at Perth Glory. We’re getting pretty close to team success, I think.” And Djulbic is keen to entertain the fans who he said, are simply the best, in the A-League. “I love hearing the fans cheer my name, I want to do my best for them and hopefully score a few more goals in front of The Shed and The Terrace. Hopefully no more red cards though.” Djulbic joins stars Scott Jamieson and Nebojsa Marinkovic who’ve also committed to the club for the next two years.
GLORY SAGA FAR FROM OVER
The threat of Perth Glory being deducted competition points has resurfaced after Football Federation Australia demanded more information about the club's handling of its financial affairs. The A-League's governing body capped off a troubling week for the league leaders by releasing an update on its investigation into the player benefits saga. An FFA statement said an inspection carried out by staff at Glory's West Leederville offices this week had prompted "additional questions".
Glory had been expecting to receive no more than a fine after an eight-week FFA inquiry found the club had allegedly failed to report benefits paid to players, including accommodation costs and car allowances, across three seasons from 2012 to 2015. There are no confirmed salary cap breaches so far. A statement from Glory said they intended to submit their response to the show-cause notice issued by the FFA by early next week.
HERD RETURNS TO VILLA FOR SURGERY
Midfielder Chris Herd has returned to Aston Villa from his loan spell at Wigan Athletic to have surgery on a medial ligament injury. The 25-year old joined Wigan in January but was stretchered off in his third appearance for the club, Tuesday’s win at Reading. "He's been a terrific servant since coming into the club and desperate to play football," said Wigan boss Malky Mackay. "Unfortunately he fell on his knee and his medial ligament has snapped and he's going to need surgery. He is going to have to go back to Aston Villa and leave us."
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES PREVIEW - WEEK THREE
Cockburn City will be looking to continue their perfect start to the NPL-WA Night Series when they take on Armadale in Week 3’s opening Group B game at Dalmatinac Park tonight (6.30pm). City edged out Inglewood united last week and midfielder Eamon McNelis said it was a hard fought win against a good side. “Inglewood has improved on last year, and I believe they will be up there challenging this season,” he said. “They were a physical side, but we stuck to our game plan that Marc (Anthony) set out and works on at training, and it was a good 90 minutes under our belt, and of course three points.” Armadale are yet to win in the competition but McNelis said they always lift for games against them. “It will be a tough game against Armadale as they are always fired up for the game since it is a local derby, and of course they will be looking to get their first win of the night series,” he explained. “They did well against Perth for most of the game, but we have been training hard fitness is improving, games are sharp and the new lads have settled in well, so we will look to continue our good start to the night series on Friday by picking up another three points.”
In Friday’s late game at Dalmatinac Park, Subiaco AFC go head to head with Shamrock Rovers in Group A. (8.30pm) Rovers have performed well in the series to date and Subiaco defender Nathan Diaz, who returns from suspension for the game, said they will not be taking them lightly. “Rovers have looked good in the competition so far and we are expecting a tough game,” he said. “If we keep playing well and with confidence there’s no doubt in my mind we can come away with three points this week.” It is a new look side for Subiaco this season and the defender said they are gelling nicely. “There is a new atmosphere round the club, a few new faces and a few of the younger lads stepping up, and have done extremely well to their credit, which is exactly what we needed, Diaz said.”
On Saturday E&D Litis Stadium is the place to be, and in the early game Balcatta and Bayswater City meet in an Italian derby (6pm). Balcatta winger Alex Caniglia, returns to the Balcatta squad this week and knows what to expect from their opposition. “We fought back last week to earn a draw against Stirling Lions, and that shows we are heading in the right direction,” he said. “Bayswater will obviously be a tough game considering they won all trophies last year, but we will approach the game as we would any other opponent and go out with the intention of getting the three points and trying to secure a place to progress in the night series semi-finals.”. In the late game, the other two unbeaten sides in the group, hosts Floreat Athena and Stirling Lions meet at 8.pm.
On Sunday it’s off to Dorrien Gardens and first up Inglewood United take on Sorrento (5pm) The Gulls have had a slow start to the competition, but defender Danny Cain believes they were unlucky last week. “We dominated for large parts of the match, created great scoring opportunities in the first half but failed to put the ball in the back of the net and we were punished for it. Conceding from a set piece was also disappointing,” he said. “We had four senior players out from the first game with injury so some of our younger players got an opportunity and they performed well.” Cain is hoping to return to the starting lineup after injury, and he is expecting another tough game. “Inglewood has recruited well and are a decent side, so it will be another difficult test for us,” he said. “I will hopefully be back, along with Todd Harnwell and we will be looking to show a response after two losses, but if we can put away our goal scoring opportunities we will be a good chance.” In the late game hosts Perth SC entertain ECU Joondalup looking to maintain their perfect start to the competition.
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES PREVIEW - WEEK THREE
It’s Week three of the State League Night series and it starts tonight. First up in Group B, Forrestfield United hosts the unbeaten Western Knights at Hartfield Park (6.30pm). Andy Thorburn’s side has bagged eight goals so far, while the home side had to come from 0-2 last week to draw. It should be a tight contest, with Rod Banjac’s side looking to bounce back, and keep in touch with the leaders. In the late game Curtin University takes on the winless Canning City. New City coach Paul Oliver said there is no need to panic, and believes his new look side will get better. “Obviously results haven't gone in our favour, but we are using this competition to try different players and different formations in order to get it right come April,” he said. “It is early days, but nobody likes to lose but it is all about how we react after those defeats and make sure that we learn from the errors we make.” Curtin remains unbeaten to date and Oliver is expecting a tough encounter. “Curtin has proved over the years that they are very much a team on the up. They have risen up the amateur leagues and made a more than respectable debut season in the State League last season,” he said. “We will go into the game concentrating on our own display and performance as you really can't read too much into results in the competition.” Also tonight, the unbeaten Mandurah City host Fremantle City in the early game in Group C at Hyundai Stadium (6.30pm), while Rockingham City take on South West Phoenix (8.30pm).
On Saturday Wanneroo City entertains Kingsway Olympic in the early game in Group A, while the late game is the match of the round, when UWA-Nedlands and Joondalup United meet, both teams having won their opening two games. The final games on Saturday are at Wotton Reserve, and the first game sees Morley Windmills host Ellenbrook United in Group D, the home side looking to bounce back from last week’s heavy defeat. In the final game Ashfield go head to head with North Perth United. Ashfield coach Paul Dundo is expecting a tight game, but was pleased with his sides’ big win last week. “I was very happy with our performance. We took 30 minutes to settle and scored four goals in 10 minutes before half time,” he said. “We set the lads a target to keep a clean sheet in the second half and we achieved, so that was pleasing, but despite the 7-0 win it is early days and we still have much to work on.” Dundo has been impressed with North Perth and is expecting the same on Saturday. “They have performed very well in the Night Series and over recent seasons in the Sunday Premier League, so I am expecting them to well organised and certainly up for it,” he said. “We have some new players this season so again this competition is about taking a look at new players to our squad and accessing where they are at.”
On Sunday the final game in Group A takes place at Kingsway Reserve, when Balga take on Quinns (5pm) Balga have a had big turnover of players and Coach Martyn Day said getting the players gelling is more important than results. “Two defeats and that does not look good on paper, but we have had a big turnover of players and we trying to look at as many players as we can in this series to see where we are at the present time,” he said. “It is about gearing up for the league, but we would also like to be winning these games as that gets us into good habits. This week is another tough test for us, and you can't look too much into their results either, as I expect like us they are looking at different players, so we’re hopeful of a better result.” In the late game in Group D, Dianalle White Eagles take on Joondalup City (7pm). The final games take place at Hartfield Park, first up Melville City take on Swan United, while the late game sees Kelmscott Roos meet Gosnells City. New Roos coach David Bolan has been happy with his young side’s improvement in the tournament. “I’m happy with what I’m seeing from the players; at this stage the scores are irrelevant, as we are trying out players in various positions, sometimes outside their comfort zone, and sometimes it works, sometime it doesn’t,” he said. “This week we take on Gosnells, who are a good side, and it will be a real test for the players, and it will be another step in preparation for the new season.”
NICHOLS AND DJULBIC BACK FOR GLORY
Fringe Socceroo Mitch Nichols could be pulling on his boots and purple strip for the first time in two months when Perth Glory step out against Melbourne City this weekend. Nichols is on the verge of his playing comeback after completing an intensive rehabilitation program stemming from a hamstring injury suffered in December. “I’m looking forward to it, it’s been a long time out on the sidelines and I’m keen to get back onto the park and hopefully help out the boys this weekend,” Nichols said.
Also boosting the squad will be the return of big defender Dino Djulbic, who missed last week’s game through suspension. Team captain Michael Thwaite said he was excited at the prospect of his close mate lining up. “He’s my partner in crime at the back but it’s up to Kenny (Lowe) to see how it all fits,” Thwaite commented. “Denis (Kramar) has been solid since he arrived two weeks ago so it’s a good headache for the coach to have.” The last time the sides met was Boxing Day last year, when Richard Garcia’s header proved enough to seal a point for Glory, who fell behind courtesy of Aaron Mooy’s 49th minute opener.
WITSCGHE WARNS AGAINST COMPLACENCY
Birthday boy Scott Witschge is adamant Inglewood United will not be taking lightly an as-yet-pointless Sorrento outfit when they meet in this weekend’s Night Series round. Sorrento, a four-time State champion, has opened the pre-season competition with back-to-back losses, however, Witschge is well aware that will mean nothing when kick-off arrives at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday (5.00pm).
“You don’t underestimate any opponent, as soon as you do you’re asking for trouble,” said Witschge, who celebrated his 21st birthday on Wednesday. “You have to show up on the day and play the game your way. We know Sorrento are the sort of side that can win a corner or free-kick late in a game and find a goal, so we will be doing our best to keep them scoreless.”
“I’m expecting it to be a physical and fairly direct game – that is what we have come to know and expect of Sorrento,” he continued. “But the boys have put in some extremely hard work over the past couple of months. Our approach is that each and every game is there to be won, and we have no desire of losing our momentum coming into the league season.”
That momentum has so far earned Inglewood a 4-2 win over Armadale and a narrow 1-0 loss to Cockburn City from their first two Night Series outings. “We should be two from two after the way we played against Cockburn,” Witschge commented. “We were on top of them for huge portions of the game but didn’t take our chances, whereas they made the most of one of their few chances.”
Witschge has plans to cement his place in Inglewood’s first eleven this winter after twice being robbed of that opportunity. The young defender was on the verge of first team selection in 2012 when he was diagnosed with a blood clot in his lung, and last winter it was a dislocated shoulder that brought things to a premature end. Now back to full fitness, Witschge is again enjoying his football.
“At the moment I’m just loving being back in training and working hard to give myself the best opportunity to be picked on the weekends,” he said. “This year I want to play as many games as possible and be part of a special time at Inglewood. I played under Michael (Garcia) in the Reserves and I’m excited about what he can do for the club.”
“Team unity and cohesion is strong and getting stronger with every game,” he added. “It’s early days under a new coach with a new system and a few new players so the more games we get under our belt then the better off we will be. What we learn about ourselves in the Night Series will put us in a good position once the league season begins.”
GLORY TO ENFORCE CURFEWS
Trouble hit Perth Glory are to enforce a strict night-time curfew on their players for the rest of the A-League season, with some stars also vowing to abstain from alcohol. Top of the table Glory hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons earlier this week when key duo Andy Keogh and Josh Risdon were arrested following a boozy night out in Adelaide. The pair were handed club-imposed fines over the incident and will front Adelaide Magistrates Court next month.
Captain Michael Thwaite admitted today the club had gone soft on its agreed curfew for away games in recent times, but said they would toughen up. The exact details of the new curfew wasn't made public. "We've had curfews in place during the season, but we were a little bit light the last few times we've been away," Thwaite said. "Now that we've had these problems, we are going to be a lot stricter. Everyone agrees, and that includes the players involved."
Thwaite has declared he will abstain from alcohol for the rest of the season, but it remains unclear whether Risdon and Keogh are taking the same approach. "Whatever they choose to do is their choice," he said. "They are adults. As we have all done, we make mistakes and we have to learn from them quickly. A few of the players have chosen not to drink at all during the season and chosen not to go out, and hopefully a lot of others follow."
KEOGH SAYS SORRY
Perth Glory striker Andy Keogh has issued an extended public apology for his arrest in Adelaide early Monday morning. Keogh, 28, was fined 50% of his weekly wage by the A-League leaders after being charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly urinating outside an Adelaide nightclub following the club's draw with the Reds. Teammate Josh Risdon was also arrested, and issued a suspended fine by the club, after allegedly failing to follow a move-on notice from police.
Keogh said he was sorry for his actions and the subsequent fall-out for the club and its fans. "First of all I'd like to apologise for my indiscretion and poor behaviour at the weekend in Adelaide," he said. "My actions have unfortunately embarrassed myself, my teammates and especially Josh Risdon, who was caught up in this drama. I'm also sorry for the embarrassment it has brought onto the club our fans and corporate partners and sponsors. Above all I am deeply regretful and remorseful for the hurt and pain it has caused my wife and family."
"I accept full responsibility for my actions and I also accept the sanctions Perth Glory has imposed on me," Keogh continued. "As for the police charge, it would be inappropriate for me to comment as the matter is now in the courts. We have been top of the league for the past 14 weeks and hopefully our strong run will continue against Melbourne City this weekend. From here on I would ask you all to respect my privacy and allow me to get on with my life so I can do my bit to help Perth Glory win an historic first championship."
HERD STRETCHERED OFF PLAYING FOR WIGAN
Injury-plagued defender Chris Herd has suffered another injury set-back, stretchered off during Wigan Atheltics’s win over Reading with a knee ligament problem. Herd, on loan from Aston Villa, went down early in the second half after a collision in a cluttered penalty box. The injury, which the Championship club said “could be serious”, prompted a mammoth 12 minutes of stoppage time to be played. It’s a massive blow for Herd whose previous loan spell at Bolton Wanderers was limited to just three appearances due to persistent niggles, while he withdrew from Australia’s Asian Cup squad due to an Achilles injury.
STAR GLORY DUO ESCAPE SUSPENSIONS
Perth Glory chief executive Jason Brewer denies the club has gone soft on Andy Keogh and Josh Risdon, saying its tenuous hold on top spot had nothing to do with the key duo avoiding suspension for their arrests in Adelaide. The A-League leaders fined Keogh 50% of his weekly wage plus match fees - around $5000 - after a 24-hour internal investigation into his arrest early on Monday, whereas Risdon was given a suspended fine by the club.
Keogh, 28, was charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly urinating outside an Adelaide nightclub hours after Glory's draw with the Reds. Risdon, 22, was arrested after allegedly failing to follow a move-on notice from police and will only pay the penalty should he breach Football Federation Australia's code of conduct again this season. Glory stopped short of banning either first choice player, meaning they will both be available for Sunday's game at Melbourne City.
Brewer said the club's one-point lead in the league had not been a factor when choosing the punishments. "It (a ban) was something we considered very seriously," Brewer said. "At the end of the day the submissions that they put forward to us and the penalties which we were only able to apply, we felt the financial measures were the most appropriate."
"We sat back and how we applied this to Andy Keogh or Josh Risdon, we would have applied exactly the same measures be it to one of our youth players or one of the players that's currently injured," continued Brewer. "Under the FFA statutes there's clear disciplinary action that we could take. We've elected to impose the maximum financial sanction … I must admit that perhaps if we had greater or more broader sanctions that we could apply from a financial perspective we would have adopted that."
Brewer said he did not expect the FFA to demand tougher penalties for the two players following discussions with the governing body. He would not confirm whether Keogh and Risdon had been responding to abuse from Adelaide United fans at the time of the alcohol-fuelled incident. The pair will face Adelaide Magistrate's Court on 19 March. Brewer said the club was disappointed with the timing of the arrests, which came on the same day FFA boss David Gallop announced the Socceroos would play in Perth for the first time in ten years.
IREDALE’S UNWANTED HAT TRICK
Perth Glory Youth defender Jack Iredale will miss the rest of the season after his third serious knee injury. The 18-year-old will go in for knee surgery on February 26th, the same one he had surgery on in 2012 and 2013. “I think I’ve had my fair share of bad luck with these injuries,” Iredale said. “This time the surgeon will be using a newly developed technique that the top surgeons in Europe are using now, which will theoretically provide a stronger more stabilised knee, I’m hoping.”
One knee injury is devastating for players, but three is unthinkable, but Iredale said he has to just get on with re-hab, and is confident he can get back to play. “All three injuries have been the same, a complete rupture of my right anterior cruciate ligament,” he explained. “But this one I have also done some damage to my lateral meniscus which means that’ll have to get taken out.”
As a 15-year-old Iredale injured his knee against Sydney FC youth, when he was at the Australian Institute of Sports in December 2012, and did it again in training in September 2013, when he wasn’t even back into full training at that stage after the first operation. The latest was in January this year against the Newcastle Jets, playing for the Glory Youth.
He thought the problem was behind him, and was even training with the Glory first team, until the latest tragedy occurred. “I thought I was progressing well, and I felt like I was just getting back to my best and was lucky enough to train with the first team a couple of times which was really encouraging,” Iredale said. “It’s definitely a massive kick in the teeth for me, but I can take great confidence out of the fact that I had missed two years of football and still managed to get myself into the youth squad and around the first team environment.”
Iredale was born in Scotland but moved to New Zealand at a very young age, and first started playing football when he was six. He moved to Australia when he was 11, playing for Quinns FC for two years, then played at ECU Joondalup and Stirling Lions, NTC for two and a half years, AIS for 18 months, and he has been at Glory since 2014.
He has had the backing of his parents, Paul and Fiona, and their sporting talents have rubbed off on him. “My parents are my biggest support structure for me, always there when I need them and I’d say they feel my pain just as much as I do. I definitely wouldn’t be able to keep getting back up if I didn’t have them supporting me all the way through every time,” he said. “Dad played cadet rugby for England when he was about my age and mum was a Judo Olympian for New Zealand at Sydney 2000, so they both know what it’s like to be high level athlete, and what it takes to overcome obstacles like this.”
His talent was recognized with selection in the Joeys squad in 2012, but his first knee injury put representing his country again on the back burner. “It was a great to play for my country, but I got injured at the end of the year which put me out of the picture,” he explained. “But my main focus was just getting back to playing football again; hopefully one day I’ll be able to pull on the Australia shirt again it’s a massive honour.”
With Perth Glory Youth equal on points with Melbourne City at the top of the Foxtel National Youth League, Iredale has had to sit and watch his team mates try and take out the title, and he believes they will. “It is difficult sitting in the stands being injured while the boys are out there doing everything they can to win the title, especially being so close to achieving that,” he said. “I’ve still got all the confidence in the world that the lads can still bring the title back to Perth, but whatever happens I think this season has been an outstanding one, considering where the team has been in previous year’s competitions.”
JOONDALUP ARE UNITED IN SUCCESS SAYS HARTMANN
It’s been a meteoric rise for northern suburbs club Joondalup United, and they will begin season 2015 in the State League First Division for the first time in their history. A player who has been a standout along the way, on and off the park is Stuart Hartmann. He joined the Forrest Park club from Whitford City in 2013, and helped the club to promotion last season. “JUFC is a fantastic club, and the progress they have made is fantastic and that’s due to the attitude of absolutely everybody always wanting to be better, on and off the pitch,” he said. “Being in the first division is a huge step up for the club, but we know it’s going to be tough and we look forward to all the challenges coming our way this year, and it’s really a privilege to be part of it.”
Assistant Coach Rudy Proctor say’s Hartmann is a great team player to have at the club, and spilt the beans on the midfielder’s nickname. “Stuart aka The Crab (because of his sideways passing), joined the club from Whitfords City two seasons ago after winning the 2012 Amateur player of the year,” he joked. “He has been a joy to have at the club and he doesn't have a bad bone in his body, but when he crosses the line is a fierce competitor and doesn't like losing. Last year he missed a lot of football through injury so it is great to have him up and about during the night series, he is a great player to have in our squad because of his versatility, he is just a comfortable at centre half as he is in central midfield, on Saturday against Quinns he played in both positions and as normal he was every reliable and did a good job in both.”
Former coach Daniel Smith has moved on and Hartmann believes new coach John Craby , Nick Jennings and Rudy Proctor have taken up the baton and have them ticking over nicely. “All the coaches have the hard task of picking the team, and competition for places is hard, and you can tell that with the intensity at training,” Hartmann explained. “The Night Series is a great time to see players in various positions, and roles on the park, new formations, and it obviously gives the new players a go.”
They have started the Night Series well with two victories, and they meet the other unbeaten side in the group UWA-Nedlands on Saturday, but Hartmann said they are well prepared for the challenge. “The squad is doing very well, with a lot of new faces, which means plenty of competition for places,” he said. “The boys have been training hard with the coaches putting on great pre-season sessions, there is a very positive feel around the club and I know the entire squad looking forward to the game on Saturday, against a good UWA side.”
LOWE EXTENDS GLORY STAY
Kenny Lowe has been rewarded for restoring Perth Glory as a force in the A-League, with the club re-signing the coach until the end of the 2016/17 season. The one-year contract extension was confirmed less than 24 hours after Glory maintained their one-point lead at the top of the table with a fighting draw at Adelaide United. "The club seem content with what's going on," Lowe said. "I'm happy, the club are happy. (But) you're only as good as your results. If you can hold it to that for a few seasons, I'll be more than happy."
Glory's original decision to appoint Lowe as a full-time coach last year appeared brave after he achieved a modest record of four wins, four draws and nine losses as caretaker in place of sacked predecessor Alistair Edwards. But an overhaul of the playing list and ten wins so far this campaign, including away at Melbourne Victory, Sydney FC, Wellington Phoenix and Central Coast Mariners, have rebuilt the club's reputation.
Lowe's re-signing comes in the midst of the club's worst run this season, with two draws and two losses over the past month. "We're where we are because we deserve to be there and we fight tooth and nail to be where we are," Lowe said. "We work ever so hard to try and stay where we are. There's no dip, there's no lack of confidence. There's no crisis here. Wherever we end up, it doesn't matter. We've improved on last year. That was our remit."
FULLY TAGGART CLOSES IN ON FULHAM DEBUT
Striker Adam Taggart says his ambition for the remainder of the season is to not only break into the Fulham first team but begin banging away the goals. Taggart is yet to make his Fulham debut after joining the Championship club in June last year, due to an ongoing adductor injury. He returned to competitive action late last month with Fulham’s reserves and has pressed his claim to a first team spot with three goals in as many games.
It wasn't long ago that Taggart played all three games for Australia at the 2014 World Cup on the back of a stunning 2013/14 campaign with Newcastle Jets. The 21-year old admitted it had been frustrating not to be able to continue that momentum since his move to Fulham, but had a clear goal for the remainder of the season. “I want to be playing first-team football,” Taggart said. “That’s why I came here. I’ve had a slow start from injury obviously but now I’m back.”
“It drove me a bit crazy being out, because my whole life was based around goals and winning games,” he added. “Now I’m fit again it’s like I’m back into challenging for my spot like always. I had a big challenge at Perth, I had a big challenge at Newcastle and it’s no different now. I’m confident in my own ability. I just need to keep working hard to get that opportunity. Everything about my game is based around goals, so my aim for a player at Fulham is to be scoring goals on a regular basis.”
Fulham manager Kit Symons will be noting Taggart’s progress given the Cottagers are 19th in the Championship and have only managed five goals in a winless run of six games. Taggart’s form, which has included goals against West Ham United, Manchester United and Everton in the reserves, has aided his case and he felt he was “regaining his sharpness”. The Perth-born attacker only resumed competitive action on January 21 against PSV Eindhoven.
He had made an initial comeback in December, playing three reserve team games only to suffer a cruel setback in training. “It was my first couple of days back. I slipped in training,” he recalled. “We originally thought it wasn’t as bad as it was, so I carried on for a couple of weeks but I was really struggling. Eventually after monitoring it for a few weeks we had a scan and it showed I had a tear in my left adductor.”
It was the same problem which Taggart had undergone minor surgery on in September, with a recovery timeframe of up to 12 weeks. The setback meant his Asian Cup hopes were dashed, but still he thoroughly enjoyed Australia’s triumph. “It was extremely disappointing to have the small setback and be out longer, but at the same time I couldn’t be happier for the country,” he said. “It was exciting to watch it. Everyone in Australia and everyone who’s been involved in the national team felt a part of it.”
“In the end, Australia has got what they deserved,” continued Taggart. “The whole process with Ange (Postecoglou) has really come to life with what he wants to do. We played in some extremely tough friendlies before the World Cup, we had an extremely tough group at the World Cup and now all the hard work and the experiences put into the squad has really shone. It was nice to get the reward for that.” Fulham are next in action on Saturday against Millwall, while the reserves face Chelsea on Thursday.
SOCCEROOS HEADING TO NIB STADIUM
After nearly ten years in the wilderness WA will finally get a Socceroos fixture, after David Gallop announced a 2018 World Cup Qualify will be played at the nib Stadium. The last game the WA public saw was in 2005 when they played Indonesia in friendly, but today Gallop announced that nib Stadium would host the first home qualifying game in the 2018 World Cup campaign.
The Socceroos have now scheduled matches in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Newcastle in recent times, giving football fans from all over Australia an opportunity to watch the new-look Socceroos and Asian Cup champions in action. “It’s fantastic that we have been able to work with the West Australian Government to take the Socceroos to Perth for the first home qualifier as we start our qualifying journey for the 2018 FIFA World Cup,” said FFA Chief Executive Office David Gallop. “We will have as many as nine home games throughout the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign so we will be working with State Governments all over Australia to take the team to as many places as possible.
Socceroos Coach Ange Postecoglou said the Socceroos are a team for all Australians. “It is great that we will play in Perth as we strive to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The Socceroos received tremendous support from fans all over Australia during the Asian Cup and now it’s Perth’s turn to come out and get behind the team. “
Football West Chairman Liam Twigger was delighted the national team would be playing in Perth and urged fans to get behind the Socceroos. “I congratulate both Football Federation Australia and the WA Government for bringing the Socceroos to Perth,” he said. “This will be a great opportunity for WA fans to show their support for international football at nib Stadium.”
The date and opponent will be confirmed in early April when the draw for the First Round of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying is conducted by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). It is expected the first home qualifier will take place in either June or September 2015.
KEOGH, RISDON ARRESTED IN ADELAIDE
Perth Glory pair Andy Keogh and Josh Risdon face disciplinary action after being arrested following Sunday's draw 1-1 with Adelaide United. Keogh was allegedly fined by police for disorderly conduct outside a licensed premises in Adelaide's Currie Street. South Australia police say they then had to return to the premises soon after, where Keogh was again involved in an incident and this time he was arrested. Police say Risdon was told to move on but refused to follow instructions and so was also arrested. Both will appear in Adelaide Magistrates Court on 19 March.
Glory chief executive Jason Brewer said the club was assessing what action to take. “We do not condone any kind of behaviour which breaches the club’s protocol and the National Code of Conduct. The players have apologised to the playing group and in due course will be making an apology to our fan base for their indiscretion,” he said. “The players admit the situation has embarrassed them, their teammates and our fans and they are accepting full responsibility for their poor behaviour. We will continue to educate and support our players to ensure their judgments reflect the ethos and values of Perth Glory."
MARINKOVIC EARNS GLORY A SHARE
Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe said his side created enough chances to snatch all three points against Adelaide United today after the first-versus-third clash ended 1-1. Adelaide created a host of first half chances but entered the break a single goal the better courtesy of Pablo Sanchez. Lowe’s tinkering with tactics at the break resulted in a much-improved performance highlighted by Nebojsa Marinkovic’s curling 53rd minute strike into the top corner.
Lowe admitted he is no doubt the happier of the two coaches and said the point on the road against the Reds was well-deserved. "I can see why he (Adelaide coach Josep Gombau) is a bit upset but, second half we created enough chances to maybe win it," Lowe said. "So did they, but that's just the nature of it - tough place to come, they're a super team and play some great football. We hung in there and got something out of it."
Glory appeared fortunate to enter the break only one-nil down after the Reds squandered a host of chances in the first 45 minutes. Lowe said the dressing room was upbeat at the break and the half time score gave his troops plenty of confidence heading into the second half. "At half time they weren't down, there was a lot of optimism there," Lowe said. "They know it might possibly should've been more than one (goal). When it's one (1-0) you've got a chance, there's always hope."
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES PREVIEW - WEEK TWO
It’s week 2 of the NPL-WA Night Series and in Group A this week Shamrock Rovers take on Bayswater City on Sunday in the early game at Macedonia Park (5pm), with both sides will be looking to bounce back from last week’s defeat. In the late game hosts Stirling Lions and Balcatta do battle (7pm) Rob Milevski’s side stunned Bayswater last week, but they will face another tough game against Balcatta who scored four in the opener. The other Group A game also takes place on Sunday at the E&D Litis Stadium (7pm) when Floreat Athena entertains Subiaco AFC. Athena’s English striker Lewis McMahon was happy with the win and believes they can get better. “We did OK in parts last week, but were still well off the pace and it gives as something to work on,” he said. “It was good to keep a clean sheet, and if we had taken our chances it could have been more, but all in all a good opening game.” Subiaco stunned Floreat in the league last season, and McMahon said losing the game 3-2 after leading 2-0 was tough. “We let ourselves down in that game, and lost concentration when leading, so there is a bit to settle and put that right,” he said. “It’s only pre-season but we need to put down a marker, and I believe on our day we will give anybody a run for their money. So we know it’s about performing as a team, and the more games we play I think that will come.”
In Group B’s early game local rivals Sorrento and ECU Joondalup meet at Dorrien Gardens tonight (5pm) They were both defeated in the first game, and will look to get on the board this week, while in the late game hosts Perth SC take on Armadale. Perth Coach Taki Nicolaidis was pleased with his sides win in week one, but he knows tonight’s game will be another tight one. “I was really pleased to have a good first up win against Sorrento,” he said. “Whilst the score may have blown out at the end, they did make it very difficult for us to break down for most of the game.” “This week’s game could be a tricky one for us. Whilst they do have a young side I’m sure Lee (Bamber) will have them well organised and full of energy to make things difficult for us.” Finally in Group B Cockburn City and Inglewood United meet at Dalmatinac Park on Saturday evening (8pm) Inglewood began life under new coach Michael Garcia with a win in the opener, and Rikki Smith says they will improve. “We played really well in the first half, but the second was a little disappointing,” he said. “We didn’t keep the ball well enough and it’s something we will be hoping to improve through the Night series. But on a positive note scoring four goals in our first competitive game highlights how strong we are going forward.” The defender is expecting a tough game against Cockburn, who won their opener last week. “They had a solid result last week against Joondalup, and they are always a tough side to play against,” he said. The surface at Dalmatinac Park is normally good, which will suit the way we play. We have a number of players vying for a spot in the first team squad, so competition for spots is high and training has shown that.”
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES PREVIEW - WEEK TWO
It’s week 2 of the State League Night Series and it all kicks off tonight. First up in Group C it’s the local derby when Rockingham City entertains Mandurah City at Lark Hill (6.30pm). Both sides had big wins in the opening round, and Rockingham coach Rob Crerar, is expecting a tough game against the new look visitors. “It’s always nice to get a win first up, but the Night series for us is about integrating new players and getting the squad match practice,” he said. “We played some nice stuff, but we will need to improve against the stronger sides in the group.” “It’s going to be a big challenge for our players, as they are looking like title favourites for the First Division. They were very good against Bunbury, and have a lot of players who could play at NPL level. We have nothing to lose, and will be confident of giving a good account of ourselves.” In the late game Fremantle City take on Dave Bolan’s Kelmscott Roos (8.30pm). Also tonight there is a double header in Group D at Wotton Reserve. In the first game hosts Morley Windmills go head-to-head with Ashfield (6.30pm), while in the late game Dianella White Eagles take on Ellenbrook United (8.30pm)
On Saturday evening Group B games continue at Hartfield Park. In the early game Swan United meet Paul Oliver’s Canning City (6.30pm), while Melville City takes on Western Knights (8.30pm) Also on Saturday in Group A Quinns and Joondalup United meet in a local derby at Kingsway Reserve (6.30pm), while the late game sees hosts Kingsway Olympic host Balga. Olympic coach Tom Kilkelly took positives out of last week’s game despite the defeat. “It was our first run out and we have a lot of player to have a look at, so results means nothing at this stage,” he said. “I was pleased with most of the lads; we had a number of chances, plus missed a penalty, so it wasn’t bad run first up.” Balga are coming off a heavy defeat last week, but Kilkelly believes it will be a tight game. “They have some handy players, and they will want to put that result behind them. We will be more concerned with our shape and retaining possession, and as long as I see an improved team effort I’ll be happy.”
On Sunday the Wanneroo Sporting Complex is the venue for the Group D clash between Joondalup City and North Perth United (5pm). United were edged out 1-0 by Morley in the opening round and coach Alex Carter believed they deserve more. “I was really disappointed for the lads not to come away with the points, as they have that winning mentality,” he said. “On the other hand I was pleased with our passing and movement of the ball, and the amount of chances we created. Very good considering we are only two weeks into out pre-season and we had eight new players on the park.” United won the Sunday Amateurs Premier League last season, and Carter is planning for another good season, starting in the Night Series. “This week’s game again should be tight. We will rotate the squad, and if we can improve on certain aspects each week we will be in a healthy position come the season opener.” In the late game hosts Wanneroo City take on UWA-Nedlands (7pm)
SAGE UNCONCERNED BY FFA INVESTIGATION
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage says he is confident the club will escape with a warning, despite Football Federation Australia issuing a ‘show cause’ notice to the A-League club yesterday. An eight-week inquiry found Glory allegedly failed to report benefits paid to players that included accommodation costs, car allowances and third-party agent fees from 2012 to 2015.
FFA confirmed Glory had not breached the salary cap, a ruling that could save the club from being fined or stripped of premiership points. Staff from the federation will fly to Perth next week to complete the audit and advise Glory on their future reporting responsibilities. Sanctions remain a possibility. A final determination is expected in the next fortnight.
Sage is of the belief the benefits, which included giving cars to players for their exclusive use, did not need to be declared in the club’s annual reports. "We are extremely relieved that we didn't breach the actual salary cap," Sage said. "Sydney has done it three times and only lost a point on the third time, but they actually breached the salary cap. We didn't."
"All we've done, according to them (FFA), is not properly identify the benefits that some of the players got," he added. "Even if we did put them in, we wouldn't have breached the salary cap. As a first offence, we'd expect to get just a warning, but it's in their hands. I'm not concerned. If we did breach the salary cap, I'd be very worried."
GLORY IN TROUBLE WITH FFA
Perth Glory have been issued with a ‘show cause’ notice by Football Federation Australia, asking the A-League club to outline why player benefits were omitted from annual reports in previous seasons. The governing body alleges Glory failed to disclose reportable payments, specifically unreported player agent fees, accommodation and vehicle benefits between the years 2010 and 2014.
The FFA stopped short of accusing the A-League franchise of a clear breach of the $2.55 million salary cap. Glory will be asked to provide an explanation of why their accounts failed to report certain player benefits after an enquiry that has lasted roughly six weeks. The allegations will nonetheless keep the spotlight lingering uncomfortably over Glory heading into the business end of the A-League title race.
JUKIC TAKES IN BIGGER PICTURE AHEAD OF COCKBURN TRIP
Inglewood United will continue to build towards the season proper when they take on Cockburn City in the second round of Night Series fixtures. Inglewood kicked off the pre-season tournament last weekend by claiming victory over Armadale, and attack-focused Andrija Jukic says the focus is much broader than taking home another three points from Dalmatinac Park on Saturday.
“We’ve had a good pre-season, the squad is gelling and we’ve got a positive result from our first game,” commented Jukic. “Our focus is on getting another 90 minutes under our belts and building on how we want to play this season. That said, if we play to the standard I know we can then we will get the result we want against Cockburn.”
Inglewood gave a good indication of what they are capable in the first half against Armadale when goals by David Sesay, Kenny Keogh and Matt Izzo capped a dominant performance. “We played quite well in the first half, we took our chances and were rewarded with three goals,” commented Jukic, who admits his disappointment at allowing Armadale back into the game.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t carry it over into the second half. Armadale pushed and we made a few silly errors that we wouldn’t normally make. There were plenty of positives though. We had four different scorers (Ryan Clarke scored the team’s final goal in stoppage time) and, considering the heat and it being out first game, the overall effort throughout the 90 minutes was really good.”
Inglewood heads south on Saturday to play Cockburn in the second round Night Series game at Dalmatinac Park (8.00pm kick-off). Cockburn got the better of ECU Joondalup to the tune of 2-0 last time out, and Jukic is well aware that another performance similar to that against Armadale will be required for Inglewood the team to come home happy.
“Cockburn are very good side with some very good players. I’ve no doubt it will be a very competitive game and provide us a good indication of where we stand,” commented the midfielder. “Michael (Garcia) is using the Night Series to get us ready for the season … it’s not that important for us to win this game but we would certainly like to.”
GLORY SET FOR REDS BATTLE
Perth Glory will be hoping its third time lucky in the league when they take on Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium on Sunday afternoon. (2pm WA Time) The Reds have had the wood on Kenny Lowe’s side, winning both A-League games, and they also won the FFA Cup Final, and they haven’t beaten The Reds since 2012. Midfielder Richard Garcia is ready for the challenge and believes his players are determined to get a result. Glory’s Richard Garcia admits the team “didn’t turn up” last week in a 3-1 loss against Sydney FC but he’s confident the team will bounce back. “It’s more about us finding our groove again and getting back into it. With the mid-season break it makes it a bit hard cause you’re not playing so many competitive games so we just need to get back into it,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re top of the table we want to stay there.”
“Yes it’s a slight dip, name me a team that doesn’t have a slight dip through the season... I think we’ve won ten games so far... we’re travelling well” Garcia said. And as far as Adelaide being a so called ‘bogy’ side, the former Socceroo had one simple message. “They don’t have the wood over us they’ve beaten us a couple of times but we’ve beaten a few teams a couple of times too, but It’s important to win because we like to win” he said
In team news Dino Djulbic is suspended after his sending off last week, but in good news Royston Griffiths returns, after missing last week’s 3-1 loss against Sydney FC. Denis Kramar is in line to make his starting debut in place of Djulibic, or Lowe might go for Brandon O’Neill, who performed well in that position last season. In other good news Mitch Nichols and Chris Harold have also been added to the squad, both returning from injury
Adelaide was surprisingly beaten last week against Central Coast Mariners, and defender Tarik Elrich knows the importance of Sunday’s game. “We do need to win more than they do, because if we don’t get the points then they go seven points clear of us,” he said. “We know it’s a massive game. They’re at the top of the table for a reason and the team everyone is chasing at the moment.” In team news Marcelo Carrusca will have a fitness test on his injured calf, and the Reds will be hoping Nigel Booggard (knee), Bruce Djite (ankle) and Dylan McGowan (thigh) will be available for the game.
GLORY ISSUED WITH SHOW CAUSE NOTICE
Perth Glory remain adamant they have never broken the rules with their salary cap, but the A-League club are in danger of having their best ever season derailed for alleged breaches. Glory could be fined or even docked points after being issued with a show cause notice on Thursday for alleged failure to disclose reportable payments. Its alleged perks such as accommodation and car allowances - plus payment of third party agents’ fees - went unreported by the club over the past three seasons.
In the league's only other salary cap scandal, Sydney FC were fined $129,000 and docked three competition points in 2006. A similar punishment would put a major dent in Glory's Championship hopes. Glory currently sit one point clear on top of the table, but a punishment involving competition points could cost them important home-ground advantage during the finals.
The club released the following statement on their web site “Perth Glory FC can confirm it has received notification from Football Federation Australia today, in relation to player benefits for the Hyundai A-League seasons 2012/13, 2013/14 and the current 2014/15 season. The notice does NOT relate to ANY alleged breach of the club's Salary Cap in any season. Furthermore the notice does NOT allege that the club exceeded the cap in this or any Hyundai A-League season.
The club has always operated within the Salary Cap for each and every Hyundai A-League season. The club can confirm it has received a ‘Show Cause’ notice from the FFA over an alleged failure to disclose benefits in relation to players’ accommodation and motor vehicles. Perth Glory has cooperated with the FFA in an open and transparent manner and will continue to do so as it attempts to resolve the matter over the next week. Furthermore the club welcomes any assistance the FFA can provide to clarify the processes and criteria used to report player benefits.”
GARCIA BACKS SOCCEROOS CALL
Former Socceroo Richard Garcia has supported calls for Western Australia’s new stadium at Burswood to be officially opened with a blockbuster clash between Australia and another football powerhouse. Football West wants the State Government and Football Federation Australia to consider opening the new 65,000-capacity stadium involving the Socceroos and a strong football nation such as Brazil, Spain or Germany. Perth has not hosted the Socceroos since they played Indonesia at Subiaco Oval in 2005.
Garcia, who represented Australia 18 times and played at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, said the idea presented tremendous opportunities for Western Australia and should be backed. “I think that would be fantastic,” said the Perth Glory attacker. “Perth hasn’t really seen something like that and something as big as an international match at a new stadium would be fantastic. I’m sure you could probably sell a game like that three or four times over so it’d be fantastic for WA.”
DJULBIC TO MISS ADELAIDE CLASH
Perth Glory's Dino Djulbic will sit out the A-League clash with Adelaide United on Sunday, after being issued a one-match ban for the FFA match review panel. Central defender Djulbic and Sydney player Jacques Faty were sent off after an incident involving the pair around the 39th minute of Saturday’s clash with Sydney FC. Initially both were reported for violent conduct. The MRP has decided both players instead were involved in a case of "Serious Unsporting Conduct" and have been suspended.
The clubs are not entitled to refer the matter to the Disciplinary Committee given there is no appeal from a mandatory match suspension. Footage appeared to show Djulbic being grabbed around the head and neck as he tried to get to his feet following a tangle of legs. The Glory defender retaliated, sparking an all-in scuffle that ended with referee Kris Griffiths-Jones dismissing both players.
DANISH CLUB KEEN ON DUNCAN
Perth Glory keeper Jack Duncan is expected to leave the A-League club for Europe at the end of the season, with the club weighing up an offer for the youngster to join Danish Superliga club Randers FC. A decision on 21-year-old’s future looms, after he returned from a fortnight's trial last month with the club, which plays in Denmark's top flight.
He is understood to have impressed Randers management during the visit, which included a friendly match. The Australia's under-23 keeper is believed to be keen on the move after being starved of game time behind first-choice keeper Danny Vukovic. Glory is expected to tick off on the deal, although terms are yet to be finalised. "Jack Duncan obviously hasn't got much game time here unfortunately for him, but that's football," Vukovic said. "He's the current under-23 goal keeper for Australia, a great prospect. He's looking to further his career.
From all reports, he had a great time in Denmark and looks likely to leave at the end of this season. Hopefully it all works out for him." Duncan has played six A-League matches with Glory since signing with the club ahead of the 2013-14 seasons, but none have come in this campaign. He has also made one appearance for former club Newcastle Jets.
KELTIE TO CAPTAIN PERTH IN 2015
Clark Keltie will wear the captain’s armband for Perth Soccer Club for the up-coming NPL-WA this season. The Newcastle upon Tyne born, former Darlington and Rochdale midfielder, will be looking to add some trophies to the Dorrien Gardens trophy cabinet, after beginning appointed skipper before last week’s big win against Sorrento in the Night Series, while Ashley Rosindale will be the vice-captain.
Keltie, who won the clubs Fairest and Best and 2014 McInerney Ford Gold Medallist, already has some experience as club captain, taking over the role when Craig Simpson was unavailable last season. He also captained the WA state side that beat Perth Glory last season. “Being named captain was not something I expected, but it is an honour and a privilege to be able to lead the team this season,” Keltie told the Perth SC web site.
After joining the club from Darlington 1883 in 2013, Keltie believes they have turned the corner and are heading in the right direction. “I have enjoyed a couple of successful seasons now, and know the club pretty well, working closely with the backroom staff, Football Operations and club president Gary Marocchi,” he said.
“Taki and I have great mutual respect, which is important for a coach and captain to have. We’re on the same page and trust each other’s judgement. “It has been nice to win the individual honours, but football is a team game and we play to win trophies and I am looking forward to leading the club to success this year.”
Coach Taki Nicolaidis said Keltie was the obvious choice as captain, as he a leader on and off the park. “Clark has a wealth of experience, is a natural leader, a good communicator and held with the highest respect amongst the player and coaching group. Along with Ashley we believe the pair will be vital for us next season," Nicolaidis said.
Keltie said he was looking forward to working with Rosindale in the leadership positions at the club. “Ash never stops calling and texting me – he is excited about the vice-captain’s job, maybe a little too much,” Keltie joked.
“I just tell him to focus on his job on the park, and if he keeps putting them in the back of the net like he did on Sunday night then we will all be happy. “I believe Ash is the best striker in the league and the best player we could have to lead the forward line.”
Perth started their season last Sunday with a 5-0 victory in its first Night Series match against Sorrento, but Keltie said they were not looking too far ahead. “Everyone one is talking up Perth SC this year because we have recruited well and we have some very good young players coming through at the club,” he said. “It is a very exciting time for the club; however, we are taking things one step at a time and our sole focus now is on the Night Series. “We are very keen to do well in the Night Series, and personally I would like to win it, and that should set us up nicely for the league season.”
FORMER BLACKPOOL YOUNGSTER JOINS JOONDALUP (Courtesy of ECU Joondalup)
ECU Joondalup have signed Conor Ready from English Championship side Blackpool FC for the 2015 NPL-WA season. The 19-year-old headed down under and when ECU came in for him he jumped at the chance to play in the highest league in the state. “I’ve settled into Perth really well, and it helps to have family here,” Ready said. “I had a good mate, Connor Thurston, at Bloomfield Road, who is from WA and he asked me if I would like to come over and play in the First Division with Western Knights. “I enjoyed it at Nash Field but when ECU contacted me about joining them in the NPL-WA I jumped at the chance to play in the top league in WA, and I’m really enjoying it.”
The midfielder spent four seasons at the Seasider’s and the decision to leave the club was tough, but to play overseas in a new environment is something he wanted to do. “I had a great time at Blackpool and made a lot of friends and have some great memories that will live with me forever,” Ready explained. “I found it hard to leave all my family and mates, but they talked me into coming, and after a few sleepless nights weighing it all up, I decided to make the move, it was an opportunity I couldn’t say no too.”
The talented youngster played at Chester City, Everton and Manchester City as a youngster, but it was at Blackpool where his football blossomed. “The club took me under their wing and coaches John Hills and Alan Wright really brought my football on. My family was the driving force in the junior days and they really encouraged me which I’m really grateful,” Ready said. “The club was fantastic and the highlight there was scoring at The Den against Millwall and scoring two goals against Liverpool which was covered on TV, one which was nominated for ‘Goal of the Week’.”
He has settled into life and football in Perth, and the hot weather hasn’t bothered him, yet. “I like the hot weather, yes it’s tough but it’s a nice change from training and playing in high winds, rain and frosty mornings,” said Ready, who has also fitted in well at ECU “Dale (McCulloch) is a good coach, and I get the vibe as soon as I met him. He has brought in a number of good players, and we’re all looking forward to a successful season.”
McCulloch is looking forward to working with the midfielder. “Conor has trained very well and will keep getting better with more game time,” he said. “He's very comfortable on the ball and is a good link from our defenders to our attacking players and is also an option as a number 10. So I’m looking forward to what he can bring to our side.”
Ready made his debut for the club in the 2-0 defeat against Cockburn City last week, and said he’s looking forward to get more game time in his legs. “The standard over here is a bit different, and a little bit slower, but that’s understandable with the hot weather here,” he said. “I enjoyed last week’s game, and it was the clubs first competitive game of the season, and we had a young side out. So I thought we played well as a team, and we were just unlucky not to put away our early chances, and if we had converted one of them the result might have been different.”
MADELEY RETURNS TO THE REDS
Armadale struggled in the inaugural NPL-WA season last year, the club giving their younger players the opportunity to impress, but they also had a number of players out with injury. One player who missed the whole of last season is midfielder Kodi Madeley. The 27-year-old returned to Alfred Skeet Oval last season, after three successful seasons in the SA Premier League with Adelaide Galaxy, but a serious knee injury stalled his comeback, but after a long frustrating lay off he is ready to help the club up the table. “It’s great to be back playing, although pre-season was tough,” Madeley said. “The boys have been working hard on the training track and we’re ready for the season ahead, and I’m looking forward to leading these boys to bigger and better things.”
The midfielder couldn’t take a trick last season with two different knee injuries that stopped his progress, but he is hoping that is all behind him now. “I was devastated last year, doing my ACL on return from South Australia, and in my pre-season with The Reds I broke down again with a tear in my MCL,” Madeley explained. “I’ve fully recovered now and have been training hard, and really hope I’m fit and rearing to go for the start of the season.”
Madeley had a great time in South Australia, and found a new playing position, which he enjoyed. “I played for three years at Adelaide Galaxy, and they stuck me upfront and I managed to bang in a few goals,” he said. It was a good time for me, and I went close to winning the ‘Serge Meltas Medal’, which is the award for player of the year. The lads there were awesome to play with, and we had some quality young players coming through the ranks.”
Armadale lost their opening game in the NPL-WA Night Series last week 4-2 against Inglewood United, but Madeley believes a strong second half has given them confidence going forward. “The lads showed what they are capable of coming back from three goals down in the first half and the second half we laid down a marker how we want to play,” he said. It’s still earlier days, and we have a number of players to come back in, so were confident we will surprise a few teams this season.”
Having played most of his junior football at Armadale, although he had a season at Swan IC, he is looking forward to wearing the red shirt again and play under Coach Lee Bamber, and assistant coach Kevin Brophy. Bamber is looking forward to a run on the park for the midfielder. “We rushed him back last season and he suffered a setback, so we took the cautious path with him and it looks like his re-hab is complete, and it’s great to get him back,” Bamber said. “He has been great in training and helping the young lads, and we’ll be a much better team with him in the side.”
This week Armadale take on Perth SC, and Madeley is looking forward to the challenge. “I saw their result last week, and it looks like they have recruited well, but all the best players in the world doesn’t mean you are going to beat everyone, it’s on the day,” he said. “The boys are looking forward to the game, and we’ll try a few things, it’s only the Night Series, and we’ll see how we go.” Armadale meet Perth SC at Dorrien Gardens tonight at 8.30pm.
BABALJ KEEN TO MAKE ZWOLLE LOAN PERMANENT
If Eli Babalj needed any extra motivation to make the most of his loan spell at PEC Zwolle, he has it in the form of a clause to make the deal permanent if all goes well. The 22-year old penned a deadline day loan deal until the end of the 2014/15 season with Zwolle from AZ Alkmaar this afternoon. The move curbed a frustrating period for Babalj who failed to make his Aklmaar debut after enduring an injury-cursed first season at the club before being unable to break into the senior line-up this campaign despite being fully fit.
Babalj revealed he could seal a permanent stay at his new club, also home to Socceroo and fellow Perth product Trent Sainsbury. “There’s a clause if everything goes well that I can go to Zwolle permanently,” Babalj said. “For now, it’s about getting game time and enjoying my football again.” Babalj will have to wait to make his debut, despite fourth-placed Zwolle taking on struggling Dordrecht on Wednesday, as the club completes the necessary paperwork in order for him to be eligible to play.
Babalj was contacted by Zwolle last Thursday with the view of the fringe Socceroo replacing the club’s top scorer Tomas Necid, who looked set to join Juventus. However, Necid’s Italian switch fell through on deadline day, meaning Babalj will now face stiff competition for a first team berth. “Wherever you go, you’re not going to walk into the team,” he said. “I haven’t played a lot of senior football in a while so hopefully I can get some minutes off the bench first and get myself into form.”
After a difficult period at Alkmaar which Babalj wasn’t keen to discuss, he admitted he was excited by his new challenge. “I’m excited about a new start and a new opportunity at a club that is doing really well this year,” Babalj said. “I want to get some game time. I wasn’t getting that at AZ. I think this is a good move for me now and I’m glad to be back fighting for a spot in the team. I feel really excited and I’m looking forward to it.”
Babalj’s Australian teammate Sainsbury is due to return to Zwolle tomorrow. It is an unlikely reunion for the Perth products who came through the West Australian youth ranks from under-13s to under-15s level, on to the National Training Centre and Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. They also played together for the Joeys and Young Socceroos. Their respective careers are at very different points currently, with Sainsbury this week lifting the Asian Cup with the Socceroos and being named in the team of the tournament.
Babalj laughed that he’s been brought to Zwolle to get Sainsbury grounded after his recent achievements. “I’ve been brought to Zwolle to bring him back to earth, after winning the Asian Cup and being player of the match in the final,” Babalj joked. “I’m really looking forward to playing again with him. We’re both Perth boys. We’ve played in all the State teams together, the institutes together and all the under-age national teams together, so we know each other really well. It’s a small world.”
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES REVIEW - WEEK ONE
The 2015 NPL Night Series started with a bang on Friday night with 12 goals scored in the opening two games. In the opening game at Macedonia Park, Balcatta met Subiaco AFC and were ahead in the opening minute, through new signing Darcy Cosgrove. Subiaco hit back four minutes later, Owen Coates scoring, but Luke Randazzo and another goal to Cosgrove made it 3-1to Balcatta after only 23 minutes. Danny Milne pulled one back for Subiaco on the half hour, but Cosgrove completed his hat-trick five minutes later. The first half action still wasn’t over with Milne scoring his second to make the half time score 4-3. The second half was a more defensive game, the only goal came to Balcatta, Dejan Andric scoring late to seal a memorable 5-3 win. In the late game hosts Stirling Lions took on the reigning Night Series Champions Bayswater City. All the action in this one came in the second half and it was the home side who hit the front when new signing Lawrence Shuruma scored on 57 minutes. City was struggling to break down the Lions defence and it was the home side that doubled their lead six minutes from the end through Robert Petkov. The home fans were in raptures three minutes later when Shuruma added his second to make it 3-0. Bayswater scored their consolation goal in stoppage-time Todd Howarth scoring.
In Sunday’s game Inglewood United beat Armadale 4-2 at the E&D Litis Stadium. Kenny Keogh, David Sesay, Matt Izzo and Ryan Clarke on target for United, while Faustinho Machochi and Nick Crerand scored for Armadale. In the late game hosts Floreat Athena beat a nine man Shamrock Rovers 2-0, with Jack Allen and Lewis McMahon on target. At Dorrien Gardens Cockburn City beat ECU Joondalup 2-0, with Conor Kavanagh and Julian Teles on target, while hosts Perth SC thrashed Sorrento 5-0. Ashley Rosindale scored a hat trick, with Reece Vittiglia and Harley Orr adding the others.
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES REVIEW - WEEK ONE
The State League Night Series began on Friday night and Mandurah City opened their campaign on a high thrashing South West Phoenix 4-0 at the Hyundai Stadium. Jordan Rhodes gave the home side the lead early, before Jeff Bright doubled their advantage on the half hour. Second half goals to Kenny Taylor and Abe Tcuona gave the Dolphins the victory. In the earlier game Rockingham City beat Kelmscott Roos 4-0. First half goals to Roy Hissey and Alex Grayson, while Johnny Araya and Ryan Kennedy added the others in the second half. At Hartfield Park on Friday Curtain University beat Melville City 1-0. Jon Krawec’s deflected free kick was enough to win for Curtin. Melville had a chance to level 10 minutes from time, but Curtin keeper Ranjeet Sekhon saved Simon El Chami’s penalty. In the late game hosts Forrestfield United came from behind to beat Canning City 3-1. The home side found themselves 1-0 down at half time, Daniel Trevisiol on target. But a brace from Rhys Loxley and an own goal saw Rod Banjac’s side home. In Group A on Friday night UWA-Nedlands thrashed Balga 8-1 at the Wanneroo Sports Complex. In the late game Joondalup United beat hosts Wanneroo City 5-0, with goals to Garin Collins, Nick Maplestone, Arran Mapleston, Mike Kenny and Gareth Hamilton.
In Sunday games Quinns beat Kingsway Olympic 2-1 at the Kingsway Sporting Club, while in the late game Ellenbrook United and Joondalup City drew 1-1. Western Knights opened their campaign with a 3-1 win against Swan United at Hartfield Park, while in the late game there was a 10 goal thriller, with Fremantle City drawing 5-5 with Gosnells City. In the other games on Sunday Ashfield came from 0-2 down to draw 2-2 against Dianella White Eagles, while Morley Windmills beat North Perth United 1-0.
FOOTBALL WEST CONFIRMS TALKS OVER SOCCEROOS MATCH AT NEW STADIUM (courtesy of Football West)
Football West has opened formal talks with Football Federation Australia regarding the possibility of bringing a Socceroos match to the new Perth Stadium in 2018. The sport’s peak body in WA has long considered the opening of the new 65,000-capacity stadium as presenting major opportunities for the sport and will continue to lobby the relevant authorities to achieve a positive outcome.
Football West Chairman Liam Twigger has met with FFA Chairman Frank Lowy and State Government officials to raise the prospect of a match to whet the appetite of the WA sporting public. FFA CEO David Gallop said a team such as England, Brazil, Germany, Spain, South Korea or Japan could be Australia’s opponent if soccer was to be the opening event at the new venue.
"The new Perth stadium will be a world-class venue, so it makes sense to open the stadium with a major football match that will resonate across Australia and Asia and make an impact on the global media," Gallop said. "FFA commends Football West on this initiative and we'll work with Liam Twigger and Peter Hugg in conjunction with the WA Government on what is an ambitious and exciting project."
Perth has not held a Socceroos match since a 2005 game against Indonesia at Subiaco Oval, starving the WA public of matches regularly enjoyed by those in the eastern states. The absence of a venue suitable for a world-class international match has been a key factor in Australia’s games being scheduled elsewhere. Although the recent redevelopment of nib Stadium has created new possibilities for soccer, the completion of the new Perth Stadium in 2018 will transform the business and economic benefits of hosting major international matches in Perth.
Football West Chief Executive Officer Peter Hugg was excited about the future. “The new Perth Stadium will be among the best in the world and it would be wonderful to see tourists from across the globe converge on our city for a major game,” Hugg said. “Of course, there needs to be a great deal of planning and work to be done before something like this comes to fruition.”
On completion, the new venue will have the third largest capacity in Australia behind only the Melbourne Cricket Ground and ANZ Stadium. A Socceroos game at the new Perth Stadium would require State Government support and an agreement from a world-class opponent. While Football West will continue to engage in discussions regarding international matches in Perth, FFA or a private company would be responsible for the management of such a fixture.
LOWE UNFAZED BY LOSS
Perth Glory could find themselves knocked from the top of the A-League unless they find a way to overcome their bogey team Adelaide United next Sunday, not that coach Kenny Lowe is concerned. Glory’s weekend loss to Sydney FC has narrowed the gap between the leader and second-from-top Melbourne Victory to a single point. And it’s Adelaide that next awaits Glory, who’ll be looking to get a measure of revenge on their opponents next weekend after losing their first two meetings this season, along with the FFA Cup final.
Lowe sees no reason to suggest his team is suffering any sort of slump as its lead on top of the table shrinks. "We've done ever so well, we're still up there and we'll stay up there. We are doing OK," he said. "We've got Griffo (Rostyn Griffiths) coming back next week, Mitch (Nichols) is back and we are adding quality back into the playing group. People are becoming available and there's competition for places. In all our last few games we've not been outplayed, not been outthought and not been outshot, outscored or out-passed so we are in a good spot."
SYDNEY MOMENTUM A WORRY FOR GLORY
Fifth-placed Sydney FC are yet to live up to their pre-season billing as A-League title favourites, but Perth Glory captain Michael Thwaite says his side remains on red alert regardless. The Sky Blues tackle Glory tonight at Perth Oval, a venue where they have recorded just one draw from their past three visits. However, the hosts are wary of Sydney's road form this season and understandably so - they are unbeaten away from their home pitch and are heading west off their biggest win of the season, a 5-1 thumping of Central Coast Mariners.
Thwaite is hoping the game bears no resemblance to the 3-3 draw Perth shared with Melbourne Victory a fortnight ago. "As a defender I didn't like the game (against Victory) and I'm sure Mariners didn't enjoy that episode as well," Thwaite said. "I guess Arnie's really been working hard on scoring goals because they had a bit of a drought with their goal scoring. All of a sudden they scored five, so we've got to be very wary of their attacking threats. We need a drastic improvement after our last game against Victory and I think all the boys are up for it."
KEOGH SCORING GOALS AT GLORY
After a decade spent as a quiet achiever in the top ranks of English soccer, Andy Keogh is revelling in finally being the main man. The Irishman's arrival at Perth Glory this season has coincided with the revival of the proud A-League club. The 28-year old says he is loving every minute of being in Perth and playing as Glory's star striker, a move that has made Keogh the competition's recruit of the year.
Keogh has combined goal- scoring heroics that have him second in the race for the A-League's golden boot with every expat's dream lifestyle, waking up to ocean views and sunny vistas every morning from his Marmion beachside home. "The manager (Kenny Lowe) has shown a lot of belief in me," said Keogh, scorer of nine league goals this season. "I'm just trying to repay him all the time. I've always felt I had the ability to be that main striker and the one that scores the goals.
"Sometimes from just the way I am and the way I play, I take on the extra workload and that ends up me giving more assists than goals. Before it was always about the team and not myself, so as long as we were winning and doing well that was what's important. But I'm not going to lie. I'm enjoying scoring the goals and I'm enjoying being the focal point. Long may it continue that I continue banging them in because I'm really thriving on it."
Keogh's future was in a state of flux when the offer from Glory came in May last year. The Republic of Ireland international had played more than 350 games in the English leagues over ten years. He helped fire Wolverhampton Wanderers into the Premier League and scored their first top flight goal of the 2009/10 season. But after being released from his contract at Championship club Millwall, Keogh was facing uncertain times despite his age putting him at the peak of his powers.
Parents Declan and Linda Keogh had emigrated to Perth five years earlier and a chance conversation with Glory chief executive Jason Brewer prompted an offer to become Perth's star striker. "It had just become a real slog - not in a bad way because I loved every minute of playing football - but it was a slog on the body," Keogh said. "We were playing 55-plus games a season and it was very tough, especially when at times you're not playing and you're in, you're out. I just felt I needed something a bit fresher and a different country was a lot more appealing."
The Dublin-born player made the call to move to Western Australia with wife Natalie and 10-year old daughter Mia. It took only a few training sessions with his new teammates for Keogh to realise he'd found something special. Half a season later and Glory are now genuine title contenders after a barnstorming run that has them four points clear on top of the table ahead of tonight's clash with Sydney FC at nib Stadium. "It has surprised me, but it also hasn't," Keogh said of the club's form.
"When I arrived and I saw the team training and the players we had - because I'd never really seen a few of them play - then I thought 'well actually, we're going to be pretty good this year'. We haven't failed to deliver. A new manager, new faces, a better group of people and a more clear vision for the club - there's a few factors like that which have worked. The main one being that you've got players now that want to succeed and will run through brick walls for each other."
Keogh bonded immediately with coach Lowe, who he praised for treating the players like men and not boys. And he needs only think of the club's FFA Cup Final loss to Adelaide United in December if he ever finds himself lacking motivation on the pitch. "It really annoyed me," Keogh says of the cup final defeat. "I wanted to win that so bad. I was just raging that we didn't turn up on the day. All I'll be wanting to do now is win the championship and win the grand final."
GLORY YOUTH BACK ON TOP
Perth Glory Youth moved back to the top of the Foxtel National Youth League table after a come from behind 2-1 win against Western Sydney Wanderers at Blacktown International Sports Park on Saturday morning. The home side were ahead midway through the first half, with a stunning shot from Tariq Maia, but the Glory youngsters hit back before half time through Nathan Costello. Both sides had chances after the break, but substitute Slobodan Vulin won it for John Gibson’s side 10 minutes from time from the penalty spot.
The home side were on top early, and glory keeper Jordan Thurtell was working overtime. On ten minutes Steve Kuzmanovski’s long-range shot was superbly saved by the Glory custodian. Moments later Alusine Fofanah burst into the area, but Thurtell stood tall to deny the midfielder. But their pressure was rewarded with the opening goal on 27 minutes. Liam Youlley made space on the edge of the penalty area and played a great ball into the path of Maia, who slotted it into top right corner of the net giving Thurtell no chance.
The Glory hit back and Borbor Sam surging run ended with a shot which Wanderers keeper Thomas Manos pushed around the post. Sam was a real handful for the Wanderers defence, and moments later he cut inside his marker, but his shot crashed off the post and away to safety. Then in the shadows of half time the Glory levelled. Cameron Edwards’ corner was punched clear by Manos, but only to Costello, and the former Armadale defender’s volley was deflected into the net.
After the break the Glory were forced on the back foot and needed some desperate defending to keep the Wanderers at bay. But the Glory were hitting on the counter attack and on 70 minutes Sam made space down the flank, and his low cross picked out Harry O’Brien, but the midfielders shot well saved by Manos. But the winner came on 80 minutes. Glory striker Todd Norris burst into the penalty area, and was brought down by Wanderers keeper Manos, and referee Lachlan Daniel pointed straight to the spot. Vulin kept his nerve to score and take all three points for the Glory boys.
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES PREVIEW - WEEK ONE
The 2015 NPL-WA Night Series kicks off this weekend, with games at three venues across the Metropolitan area. It all starts at Macedonia Park tonight, and in the early game Balcatta take on Subiaco AFC (6.30pm). Balcatta have been busy in the transfer market and have added some quality players to their squad, while Subiaco have lost a number of there experienced players and will look to their youth in the pre-season tournament. In the late game hosts Stirling Lions take on current Night Series Champions Bayswater City (8.30pm). The Lions have lost a large chunk of their squad from last season, and Coach Rob Milevic will look to David Micevski and Michael Pugliese to bring on a new look side. “The players has been working hard during Pre- season training and there is a good mix of experienced and youth in the squad and we’re looking forward to the Night Series games, and season 2015,” Milevic said...” Bayswater will be looking for a hat-trick of Night Series wins and they have also added to their squad, including former Lions duo Phil Arnold and Hayden Doyle.
On Sunday it’s to Dorrien Gardens for another double header. First up ECU Joondalup meet Cockburn City (5pm). ECU Coach Dale McCulloch is hoping to unearth another players from the clubs successful academy “The pre-season Night Series competition gives us a chance to test our squad and reserves and under 18’s players who have impressed us in the early training sessions,” McCulloch said. “As a club we are proud of the players we have produced from our talented academy and last season we brought forward some of them into the first team side and they never let us down.” In the late game hosts Perth SC entertain Sorrento (7pm). Perth have also been very active in the transfer market, with Dean Evans and former Gulls midfielder Reece Vittiglia joining, while on the other hand Sorrento squad has been decimated, but any team coached by Trevor Morgan and Jamie Harnwell can’t be taken lightly.
Also on Sunday evening games will be played at the E&D Litis Stadium. In the early game Armadale go head-to-head with Inglewood United (5pm). United new coach Michael Garcia have added some experienced players to their side, while Armadale have worked really hard in the pre-season, but Coach Lee Bamber is keeping his cards close to his chest. “The lads have worked really hard in the pre-season and they are ready for a good Night Series tournament,” Bamber said. “We have worked really hard behind the scenes to bring in some quality players, but they will probably miss the first few games. “All the clubs use the Night Series to have a look at new players and try a few different formations, and we will be doing the same, and we’re really looking forward to the opener against Inglewood United on Sunday.” In the late game hosts Floreat Athena takes on Division One Champions Shamrock Rovers (7pm). Floreat have brought in Kris Gate and Lions’ duo Clayton Arnez and Dennis Galan, and will look for a winning start on home soil. John O’Reilly’s team have been added to the competition to replace Perth Glory, as their Youth side are still involved in the National Youth League, but the opportunity to play the NPL teams is something Rovers’ coach is looking forward too . “We are relishing the opportunity to compete in the NPL Night series. The games will be challenging, but we are confident we can put in a respectable performance,” he said. “We have added a number of new players to our squad, and will hope to see them play over the next few weeks.”
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES PREVIEW - WEEK ONE
The State League Night Series kicks into action this weekend, with all Division One and Two sides doing battle. It all starts tonight, in Group A at the Wanneroo Sports Complex, when UWA Nedlands takes on Balga (6.30pm). That is followed by hosts Wanneroo City playing new Division One side Joondalup United in the late game (8.30pm). “Obviously our aim in the Night Series is to win it, we go into every game trying to win and play positive football,” United assistant Coach Rudy Proctor said. “But we also realise we will be giving players chances that we haven't seen play a proper 90 minutes for the club, so this does come with some risk. “We will also be looking at a couple of formation we believe will be the best for our first ever season at this higher level.”
Also tonight, there are games In Group B and C. First up in Group B Curtain University come up against Melville City at Hartfield Park (6.30pm), while Forrestfield United meet Canning City in the late game (8.30pm) In Group C Rockingham City and Kelmscott Roos meet at the Hyuandi stadium (6.30pm), while Mandurah City take on South West Phoenix in the late game (8.30pm). New Dolphins coach Doug Hesketh says the new format is good. “I think FW have set up really well for the pre-season competition this season,” he said. “They have given teams a guaranteed five game run, allowing opportunity to look at players in competition and try and get the right balance of your squad before the season starts. I know we have a tough group, we will give it our best shot.”
On Sunday Group A’s first round of fixtures are completed when Tom Kilkelly’s Kingsway Olympic entertain Quinns at the Kingsway Sporting Complex (5pm), while also at the same venue in Group D Ellenbrook United meet Joondalup City. In Group B on Sunday, Western Knights go head-to-head with Swan United (5pm) United youngster Reegan Borzecki said they are expecting a tough opener. “Every game will be tough in the group, going off last year, and Western Knight will be no different,” he said. “They are a very strong side but we have really started to put the coach’s ideas into games, which have given us some positive performances in pre-season so I think the opener will be a good contest.” In the late game In Group C, Fremantle City take on Gosnells City (7pm). Finally at Wotton Reserve Group D fixtures are completed, when Ashfield and Dianella White Eagle meet (5pm), while in the late game hosts Morley Windmills take on Sunday League Champions North Perth United (7pm)
PERTH’S NIGHT SERIES CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF (courtesy perthsc.com.au)
A Night Series title would be a great way to kick off 2015, but for Perth SC coach Taki Nicolaidis the annual pre-season competition is all about preparing for the upcoming National Premier League season. The new-look Perth SC starts its Night Series campaign on Sunday evening at Dorrien Gardens against Sorrento. “We are obviously looking to do quite well in the Night Series, however we will also be looking to work on a few things and prepare ourselves for the upcoming NPL season,” Nicolaidis said.
Perth SC has lost the services of prolific goal scorer Mark Doninger, who returned to the UK, and last year’s runner-up fairest and best and Robert Giorgi Memorial Trophy winner Josh Wilkins, who has moved to Melbourne for a stint in the Victorian NPL. Tim Robertson and Jason Barrera have also left Dorrien Gardens over the off-season. However, the club has recruited strongly over summer, securing the services of some of the NPL’s best young talent in Reece Vittiglia (Sorrento) and Dean Evans (Stirling Lions). Former Perth SC juniors Callum O’Connell (Sydney Utd) and Rocco Pizzatta (Glory NPL) have also returned along with forward Carlo Coelho from Balcatta.
The new recruits should strengthen the Perth SC squad for the upcoming season, in addition to key players such as dual fairest and best and 2014 McInerney Ford Gold Medallist Clark Keltie, one of the best strikers in the league Ashley Rosindale and high quality midfielder Mark Pritchard. “I’m very pleased with our new additions to our squad,” Nicolaidis said. “We had lost some very talented players, however I feel that we have found very good replacements and our youngsters have stepped up in pre-season. I guess we will get a good guide as to where we are at once we start playing games in the Night Series.”
The 2015 Night Series will consist of two groups of six NPL clubs playing a round robin competition, with the top two teams from each group qualifying for the semi-finals. Perth SC have been drawn in Group B with Sorrento, ECU Joondalup, Inglewood United, Cockburn and Armadale. Nicolaidis said it would be important to get off to a good start to ensure safe passage through the group stage and into the semi-finals. “All Night Series games are going go be tricky and it's important that we get off to a good start, as we don't want to be playing catch up in our last couple of games against Inglewood and Cockburn,” he said. Sunday’s match against Sorrento kicks off at Dorrien Gardens at 7pm.
GLORY LOOKS TO GIVE SYDNEY THE BLUES
Perth Glory will be looking to maintain their four point lead at the top of the Hyundai A-League table, when they take on Sydney FC, at the nib Stadium on Saturday afternoon (6.30pm). It should be a cracker, with the Sky Blues sitting in fifth spot on the table and having regained the services of some of their injured players, and added some quality to their roster. While the Glory will be looking to win at home for the first time in three weeks, after a defeat against Adelaide United and a thrilling 3-3 draw against Melbourne Victory last time out.
The Glory will be without the suspended Royston Griffiths and the injured Chris Harold, who limped off against the Victory, but Kenny Lowe will regain the services of Danny De Silva, and will also have German midfielder Dragan Paljic and new 23-year old Slovenian defender Denis Kramar available, after he joined the club on a short term injury replacement contract in the week. They will not be risking Mitch Nichols, who tore his hamstring in December. The Socceroos midfielder is back in training but Lowe said they will not rush him back. “He's back on the ball. He's come out the other side of rehab now," Lowe said. "He's starting to get into some football specific stuff. Hopefully, in a week or two, he'll be back in."
Sydney are coming one of their best performances of the season after thrashing The Mariners 5-1 on their patch last week. New signings Jacques Faty and Mickael Tavares made their debuts in the big win and the Senegalese internationals are again expected to play key roles in the West. They will also regain the services of Terry Antonis after his Socceroo duties, and he is looking forward to the trip west. “"Perth's a top side, they're going well this season and at their home ground it's going to be extra hard for us," he said. “But we're going over there to give them a serious challenge. When I came back to training, all the boys were over the moon, so the mood here is really confident." The two teams met in Sydney in round nine, with the Glory coming away with the points in a 2-1 win. A late Andy Keogh penalty won it, after former Glory striker Shane Smeltz’s had given Sydney the lead just after the break
KRAMAR FLIES IN FOR GLORY
Perth Glory’s defensive stocks have been bolstered by the signing of Slovenian centre-back Denis Kramar. Fresh from a spell with Spanish La Liga club Getafe, Kramer joins Glory as a short-term injury replacement for Diogo Ferreira, who will miss up to five weeks with a hip injury sustained last month. "He'll provide cover at the back for us and he's played at a good level," Glory boss Kenny Lowe said. "He's here for a limited time as an injury replacement, but who knows, that could all change." Although Kramar’s contract is initially for a six-week period, Glory have the option of extending his stay through to the end of the season.
Prior to his time in Spain, Kramar spent four years in Slovenia's PrvaLiga followed by a short spell with Polish club Widzew Lodz. The 23-year old intends to make the most of his opportunity to play in the A-League. “It’s great to be in Perth,” he commented. “I’ve never been to Australia before so I’m looking forward to making the most out of this opportunity and being part of the team’s maiden premiership aspirations and hopefully its first A-League championship.” Kramar becomes the second injury replacement player signed by Glory in the space of three weeks after German winger Dragan Paljic.
SPASESKI WINS IT LATE FOR GLORY YOUNGSTERS
A goal in the second minute of stoppage time from Dejan Spaseski has given Perth Glory Youth a hard fought 2-1 win against the FFA Centre of Excellence in Canberra on Wednesday afternoon. Borbor Sam had given the Glory the lead on the half hour; before Henry Davies levelled for the home side just before the break.
A red card for FFA Centre of Excellence player Daniel Arzani, after a lunge on Matthew Ntoumenopoulos, turned the game in the Glory’s favour. Before Spaseski, who had come off the bench for his debut for the club, guided the Glory youngster’s home with a dramatic late equaliser, and close the gap on the league leaders.
It was the start of a gruelling schedule for the Glory youngsters, playing three games in six days. Coach John Gibson made wholesale changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Sydney FC on Sunday, giving starting debuts to Matthew Ntoumenopoulos and Sam McKearnan. It was an even opening in the Australian Capital, but it was the visitors who were first on the board in the 29th minute. Sam picked the ball up in the middle of the park and took on three FFA Centre of Excellence defenders, before firing past Duro Dragicevic.
The home side continued to press and they were level just before the break. A corner found its way to Kosta Petratos on the edge of the penalty area. His shot was blocked by some desperate Glory defending, but he laid the rebound off to Cameron Joice, who shot crashed off the post. The ball fell kindly to Davies, who fired home from close range, giving Jordan Thurtell no chance.
Both sides had chances in the second half but both keepers kept their teams in the game, but the match took a twist on 79 minutes. Ntoumenopoulos was carried off with a nasty leg injury, after he was tackled from behind by Arzani, who was shown a straight red card by referee Adrian Arndt. Spaseski came on to replace him and he would turn out to be the match winner in the last minute. Sam was the provider, his strong run down the flank ended with a cross into the penalty area, where Spaseski lost his marker and volleyed home from 10-yards.
BALALJ PARTNERS UP WITH SAINSBURY
West Australian striker Eli Babalj has linked up with former Perth Glory Youth teammate Trent Sainsbury at high-flying Dutch club PEC Zwolle. Babalj scored a string of goals for AZ Alkmaar’s second team but has been unable to force his way into the senior line-up. But that has not deterred Zwolle coach Ron Jans from taking the 22-year old finisher on loan for the remainder of the season, with the offer of first team football. Babalj, scorer of a dozen goals in 44 appearances for Melbourne Heart and Melbourne Victory, could become a permanent member of the Zwolle squad should the club take up that option at season’s end.
JOONDALUP YOUNGSTER HEADS TO THE UK (Courtesy of ECU Joondalup)
ECU Joondalup youngster Bayley Brown-Montgomery, heads to the UK at the end of February for trials at English Premier League clubs Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion academies. The 15-year-old is another player to come through the highly successful ECU Academy and he has impressed everyone including first team coach Dale McCulloch, who has him training with the first team in the pre-season.
The midfielder, whose father Stuart Montgomery is well known in Perth football, knows it will be tough in the UK, but he is up for the challenge. “I’m looking forward to the trip, it's been a lot of hard work and preparation for the challenge ahead and I hope it all comes together,” the youngster said. “Getting Into a squad would be a massive achievement and it's something I've always wanted to be able to fulfil and would be a dream come true.”
His form last season in the under 15’s NPL side was outstanding, and he was selected and played a number of games in the under 18’s late in the season. When the clubs agent watched him play he told the club it was time for the talented midfielder to head overseas. “A few people had mentioned I was playing well and when the clubs agent heard he watched me and said it was my time to go over and get looked at and especially when my number one critic (My dad) said I was playing well, and the scout is very confident with his decision to take me away,” Brown-Montgomery said.
“When I started playing in the under 18s it was nerve racking especially playing against Sorrento and Dale telling the coaches he wanted me to step up into their team. Coming off the bench at 2-1 down and to score and two assists in my first game felt like I'd done my job and was friendly with all the Lads, it was just a shame that we let It slip in the top four final.”
The coach of the ECU 15’s is former Swindon Town defender Charlie Comyn-Platt, and he believes the future is bright for Bayley. “He had a good year, and we pushed him on from the under 15’s to the 18’s, along with James Bruce, and they were outstanding in the older age group,” Comyn-Platt said. “He has been training with the first team all pre-season and doesn't look out of place. His attitude towards training is excellent and that goes well with his raw talent. It will be a great experience for him going to England to train with a few clubs, training every day in a professional environment will only benefit him mentally and physically. Everyone at the club is backing him and we wish him all the best.”
The midfielder believes the coaching he has received from the ECU Academy coaches has been first class and he has enjoyed working with Comyn-Platt. “Charlie is a very good coach and likes to concentrate on developing the players,” he said. “The club like to work on shape and passing it out most of the time, for all teams at the club, and I feel they've developed me a lot as a player, and I would like to thank all my other coaches I've had at ECU, I've learnt so much from all of them.”
Bayley is quick to acknowledge the role his dad has had on his football, and he hopes to show him the time he has put into his football was been worth it. “It was always good watching my dad when I was younger because I was a defender and use to watch how people defended players like him,” he explained. “But since I changed position I've really started watching how he holds up the ball and uses his ‘Tekkers’ over his ‘pace’.”
Stuart is nervous about Bayley’s trip, but he believes he has what it takes to succeed at the next level. “It’s a bit of a nerve racking experience for me and for his mum, but I am sure we both will be more nervous than him while he is over there,” he said. “Since an early age he only wanted to be a professional soccer player and to see his improvement and dedication in the last few years (especially last year having such a dominant season in both 15’s and 18’s) has only magnified the belief in myself and his mum that he has a given himself every chance.”
Montgomery senior is still playing with ECU Joondalup first team, and he also went overseas as a youngster, so he knows what Bayley is to expect. “Speaking from first-hand experience, as I went over to Villa as a 16-year-old, so I know how hard it is over there to make it or to be given a chance,” he explained. “So no matter what happens with Bayley over there I know for a fact that spending six weeks training with and against some of the best kids in England will only make him a better player in the long run. “He is under no illusion (and has plenty of family reminding him) that the hard work starts now and there are no shortcuts. I just hope he is given a chance to show how good he actually is and luck is on his side, and plus myself being a Villa supporter i couldn’t be happier he is going there.”
GLORY COUNT ON NICHOLS RETURN
Perth Glory midfielder Mitch Nichols is edging closer to a return from injury. The 25-year old spent much of yesterday’s training session at McGillivray Oval on the ball and moving fluidly, showing no signs of the torn hamstring that ended his Asian Cup hopes. Nichols has not played since just before Christmas, having sustained the injury soon after being named in the preliminary 46-man Socceroos squad. But an encouraging showing at training has raised expectations of a return in the next fortnight at a time when Glory are missing Chris Harold (ankle) and Youssouf Hersi (hamstring).
Coach Kenny Lowe confirmed Nichols was closer to a return, although he ruled out declared his player fit for Saturday's home clash with Sydney FC. "He's back on the ball, he's come out the other side of rehab and now he's starting to get into some football specific stuff," Lowe said. "So hopefully in a week or two he'll be back in. I'll just see how he progresses. You can give him an end date and then he has a bit of a relapse and mentally it doesn't help, so again it's a bit boring but day by day."
GLORY ADD TO THEIR DEFENSIVE STOCKS
Perth Glory has signed Slovenian defender Denis Kramar on a short term injury replacement contract in place of Diogo Ferreira, who is out with a hip injury. The 23-year-old central defender arrived in WA this week from Spanish La Liga club Getafe CF, where he has spent the last year. He will add depth to the squad, especially after Jack Clisby left the club to join Melbourne City.
Prior to his Spanish adventure Kramar played four seasons in Slovenian, before moving to the Polish league side Widzew Lodz. “It’s great to be in Perth, I’ve never been to Australia before, so I’m looking forward to making the most out of this opportunity and being part of the team’s maiden Premiership aspirations and hopefully a Championship,” Kramar said.
Glory Coach Kenny Lowe said the defender was a welcome addition to the squad. “He’ll provide cover at the back for us and he’s played at a good level. He’s here for a limited time as an injury replacement but who knows, that could change,” Lowe said. Kramar comes in at an important time of the season for the club, at the half way mark of the campaign. Yousouff Hersi, Chris Harold, Ferreira and Mitch Nichols, are all recovering from injuries and undergoing rehabilitation, so the inclusion of Kramar will give Lowe some other options, with only Brandon O’Neill on the books, who can cover the centre half spot.
DOLPHINS READY TO REBOUND
There is a new dawning at the Hyundai Stadium this season, as Doug Hesketh looks at getting Mandurah City back in the National Premier League. Three-years in the wilderness have hurt them, but a successful recruiting campaign has a buzz back around the club. Hesketh, who lead Stirling Lions to the State League Premier League title two years ago, has brought a new confidence and he believes they are heading in the right direction, but there is still room for improvement, “We’re all looking forward to the challenge this season, which is shaping up to be a very tough league in 2015,” Hesketh said. “We are away to Swan United first game, and you just have to look at the teams in the league, the coaches involved ,the players both last season and this, so you would not rule anyone out.”
Hesketh has been delighted with the clubs approach to the season ahead and his coaching team. “I’m enjoying building a new squad at MCFC, it's a great club and also working with Stevie Robinson.” Hesketh explained. “He is a coach who I always liked especially his style and his application. When I was approached for 2015 season for the position at MCFC he was my first pick.”
The pre-season has been intense, but Hesketh is excited about 2015, with the club having two C licences and a Uefa B on the coaching staff. “We set up early and have been working very hard with a great group of players,” he said. “There is a healthy mix of new and existing players with some excellent levels of experience to support the process and they are committed to doing their best for MCFC in 2015. “The Senior coaching team along with Stevie and I, are Mike Green, Richard Taylor, Dave Power and Simon Bell, who is the clubs Junior Technical Director, are all on the same page, we will do our best every week to play good football in all teams and develop and attract good youngsters back and to the club for the future.”
This weekend Mandurah take on local rivals South West Phoenix in the State League Night Series, and the former Phoenix defender Oliver McGee is looking forward to getting some game time. “Pre-season training started early December, and we’re ready to get some game time into our legs,” he said. “We have had the odd friendlies, the latest a 2-0 win against Stirling Lions, and the players Doug has brought in look good, and were getting closer to full fitness.”
On Friday’s game, McGee believes it’s another step towards the clubs major goal this season, promotion. “I can’t wait to play,” he said. “Yes it is against my old team, but that won’t affect the way I go about it. It’s another game and we will be hoping to get a win, so that we are ready for the league season, which is something we’ve spoke about as a group, and we hope to get back in the top league in the state.”
MATILDAS NAME SQUAD FOR NEW ZEALAND AND NORTH KOREA
The Matildas will take a squad to Auckland for games against New Zealand and North Korea in Auckland next week. Asian Player of the Year Katrina Gorry heads up the squad which also features Lisa De Vanna, Steph Catley, Caitlin Foord, Michelle Heyman, Kyah Simon and Emily van Egmond. "These two matches are the first step in the process and it's going to be an excellent examination on how our players are travelling and how they can step up to that level," said coach Alen Stajcic, who is preparing for June’s Women’s World Cup in Canada
The squad is missing a number of notable names – including West Australians Sam Kerr and Lydia Williams, however, Stajcic stressed that doesn’t mean those players won’t be considered for Canada. "There are a few girls returning from injury and a few girls that are currently injured as well such as Ellie Brush, Kate Gill, Sam Kerr, Lydia Williams and Tameka Butt so there are a number of girls still in contention," he said. The Matildas play North Korea on 10 February and New Zealand two days later.
Australia’s squad for this month’s tri-nation series with New Zealand and North Korea is Danielle Brogan, Alex Chidiac (Adelaide United), Kim Carroll, Larissa Crummer, Katrina Gorry, Elise Kellond-Knight, Aivi Luik, Clare Polkinghorne, Hayley Raso (Brisbane Roar), Michelle Heyman, Ashleigh Sykes (Canberra United), Stephanie Catley, Brianna Davey Lisa De Vanna (Melbourne Victory), Hayley Crawford, Emily van Egmond (Newcastle Jets), Caitlin Foord, Alanna Kennedy (Perth Glory), Nicola Bolger, Casey Dumont, Amy Harrison, Teresa Polias, Kyah Simon and Servet Uzunlar (Sydney FC).
MARINKOVIC INKS TWO-YEAR EXTENSION
Perth Glory have received a boost ahead of Saturday’s clash against Sydney FC with set-piece specialist Nebo Marinkovic re-signing for another two years. Marinkovic’s match-winning dead ball skills have been one of the highlights of Glory’s campaign this season, the 28-year old Serbian scoring eight goals in league and cup competitions. “I love Perth – it’s an amazing place for me and my family and I have been very happy since the day we arrived,” said the midfielder, who has extended his contract until June 2017. “I want to do my bit to help Perth Glory win its first A-League championship. For me that is the top priority.”
A former Serbian youth international with playing experience in Spain, Greece, Israel and Sweden, Marinkovic was quick to endear himself to club fans, securing Glory's first away win over Central Coast with a stunning 30-metre free kick in round five. "Scoring goals is a great feeling and it's always good to see the fans celebrate with you when you've put the ball into the back of the net,” he said. “They are an important part of the club and I'll be doing my bit to keep them happy over the next few seasons.” Marinkovic's signature comes after crowd favourite Scott Jamieson recently re-signed with Glory for another two years with the option of a third.
JOONDALUP UNITED SET FOR NEW CHALLENGE
Under the tutelage of Daniel Smith, Joondalup United took the Second Division by storm last season, going through the whole season undefeated. The Coach has moved on, but his replacement John Evans has the Forrest Park club ticking along nicely as they enter their first ever season in the First Division. Assistant Coach Rudy Procter believes they have added some quality players and believes they will give a good account of themselves. “Like most clubs in the state league we have seen a crazy amount of players come through and try out. Only in the last week or so we have looked to get a settled squad in pace to give players a chance during games to impress,” he said.
They begin their Night Series against Wanneroo City tonight, and Proctor knows a good showing will prepare them for the league. We are looking forward to the night series and playing some local rivals in Quinns, Wanneroo and Kingsway,” he said. “The first year in Division One will be about consolidating, we have had four five seasons where we have managed to win trophy's and be favourites. This year will be the first time where we are probably expected to finish in the lower half of the table, especially hearing the stories of the more established clubs in the league buying big.”
The club have bonded well on and off the pitch and Proctor said this will see them take it to most teams. “We believe our team spirit and the morale we have through all JUFC teams will hold us in good stead,” he explained. “We have picked up one or two new players that have played at this level or higher recently and we believe the squad we are starting to assemble, come the start of the season, should be good enough to surprise a few and hopefully win more games than we will lose.”
O'NEILL STUNNER NOT ENOUGH AS GLORY SHARE THE SPOILS
A stunning strike from Perth Glory Youth midfielder Brandon O’Neill wasn’t enough, as they missed the opportunity to close the gap on Foxtel National Youth league leaders Melbourne City, after a 1-1 draw against Sydney FC at the Ashfield Sports Club on Sunday morning.
The visitors opened the scoring after only two minutes through skipper Jacob Tratt, but O’Neill curling shot levelled on the quarter hour. Both sides had chances to take all three points but they had to settle for a share of the spoils.
It was a perfect start for the visitors, and Jack Duncan had to be alert to deny George Blackwood in the opening minute, but from the resulting corner they hit the front. Anthony Tomelic’s corner picked out the unmarked Tratt, who headed home powerfully from eight-yards. The Glory looked to hit back immediately, Cameron Edwards blazed over on ten minutes, before Harry O’Brien’s snap shot from the edge of the penalty area whistled inches past the post.
But on 15 minutes the Glory levelled. A surging run from Glory skipper Jacob Collard, ended with a ball across the edge of the box which found O’Neill, who superbly curled his shot into the top corner of the net giving Sydney keeper Anthony Bouzanis no chance. The Glory were now on top and moments later Borbor Sam made space down the left and outpaced his marker, his cross picked out Joe Knowles, but the Glory’s leading goalscorer fired just wide.
Sam was causing havoc down the left and on 24 minutes he won possession, and drifted past two Sydney defenders, before sending Knowles in one-on-one with Bouzanis. The Sydney custodian stood tall to save well from the striker, and he recovered superbly to deny Knowles’ follow up shot. Sydney ended the half the better and Duncan saved low from Max Burgess, before Tomelic’s long-range shot flew just over the top.
O’Neill went close to a second just after the break; his curling free kick from 20-yards was well saved by Bouzanis at his near post. It was a great game with chances at both ends. Burgess’ volley dipped just over the top for the visitors, before on the hour Collard’s ball over the top sent Sam in on goal, Bouzanis was out quick to block his initial shot, and the keeper deflected his follow up shot wide.
Sydney, who were sitting second bottom of the table prior to the game, were taking the game to the Glory, and Blackwood was a constant threat. His shot from the edge of the penalty area on 78 minutes was tipped over by Duncan. Then in the final minute George Timotheou sent Blackwood clear on goal, but a superb last-ditch tackle from Ali Gholami saved the day. The Glory had one last chance to take all three points in stoppage time, but Todd Norris’ shot was saved low by Bouzanis.
SOCCEROOS FIRED UP BY KOREAN CELEBRATIONS: SAINSBURY
Trent Sainsbury has revealed South Korea's wild celebrations in last night’s Asian Cup final fired up Australia heading into extra-time. Son Heung-min's stoppage time equaliser forced an additional half hour and, perhaps more importantly, prompted coach Ange Postecoglou to issue a crucial rallying cry. "He (Postecoglou) said, 'we're not losing'," Sainsbury, a former Armadale junior, told reporters after the memorable win. "They've just come from behind and they think they've won it. They were celebrating like they've won it."
It was looking as though Australia would claim the Asian Cup in regulation time courtesy of Massimo Luongo’s stunning 20-metre strike late in the first half. However, the South Korean’s relentless pressure was rewarded in the 91st minute when Son Heung-min punished poor defending by slamming in the equaliser. “It was pretty heartbreaking,” Sainsbury said of the equaliser. “But at the same time it created a bigger spectacle for football in Australia and Asia. We just had to regroup. They made some substitutions but they couldn’t reshape after that so we took advantage.”
The game was ultimately decided in the 105 minute when James Troisi slammed into the roof of the net at close-range. Sainsbury said playing at home in front of a vocal home support was the key. “It’s a massive relief – there was a lot of weight on Australian players' shoulders today. And the crowd got us over the line I think," said the defender, who was awarded the man of the match for another composed performance at the back. “It’s a nice personal touch but I wouldn’t be able to do it without the boys around me. We’re a unit, we’re a family so I can’t thank them enough.”
Sainsbury, who plays for Dutch club PEC Zwolle, has enjoyed an outstanding tournament. The 22-year old’s reading of the game and his distribution from centre-back have been excellent, and he even weighed in with a goal in the semi-final win over the United Arab Emirates. “I’d like to think so but at the same time Ange always impresses the fact that you never know when your last game of your country is going to be," he added when asked if he has made a starting role at the back his own moving forward. “So you have to give 100 percent and that’s what the boys did today."
AUSTRALIA THE KINGS OF ASIA
Substitute James Troisi's extra-time goal secured the Socceroos' first Asian Cup title as the hosts overcame South Korea 2-1 in tonight's final at Stadium Australia in Sydney. Son Heung-min's last-gasp goal had sent a captivating contest into an additional half hour as Massimo Luongo's first-half strike was cancelled out in dramatic fashion. But Troisi emerged as Australia's hero as the home side capitalised on some woeful defending to restore the host nation's lead in the first extra period. The win vindicated coach Ange Postecoglou's regeneration of the squad since he took the role 14 months ago.
A sell-out crowd of 76,385 made for a cracking atmosphere, offering all the ingredients for what proved to be a special night. Australia captain Mile Jedinak threatened first with a dipping long-range free-kick, while Kwak Tae-hwi headed just wide from Ki Sung-yueng's set-piece at the other end. Luongo built on his ever-growing reputation with a stunning strike just before half-time, the midfielder turning on an excellent pass by Trent Sainsbury and rifling beyond the despairing gloves of Kim Jin-Hyeon from 20-metres. It was the first goal the South Koreans conceded in the tournament.
Chasing the game, it was no surprise Uli Stielike's side lifted the tempo in the second half. Set-pieces were causing Australia trouble and Kwak got on the end of another free-kick, only to head straight at Mat Ryan. The Socceroos were not about to park the bus and Mathew Leckie forced a smart save on the hour mark before Trent Sainsbury headed just wide from the resulting corner. Australia suffered a setback six minutes later with Robbie Kruse stretchered out of the game by what appeared to be a serious left Achilles injury. South Korean continued to push and that pressure paid off in stoppage time when Ki slid in Son, who produced a classy finish.
Australia picked themselves up off the canvas late in the first half of extra-time. Tomi Juric took the ball to the byline and outwitted couple of defenders before delivering a low centre which Kim parried into the path of Troisi, whose side-foot into the roof of the net sent the home crowd wild. Former Armadale junior Sainsbury, who was stoic in the face of Korea's attacks alongside Matthew Spiranovic, was deservedly awarded the man of the match award. Luongo was named the Asian Cup's most valuable player, Mat Ryan was the goalkeeper of tournament with United Arab Emirates' striker Ali Mabkhout taking the Golden Boot.
GRANT FLYING HIGH WITH MACCLESFIELD
Defender Alex Grant is desperate to win promotion with Macclesfield Town to go alongside his ongoing development. Grant has become a vital figure in the Silkmen’s backline since joining the club in August on loan from Stoke City. Macclesfield have conceded just 27 times in 31 league games en route to second spot in the Conference. And Grant says he’s at the best place for his development – and he’s determined to complete his experience with promotion.
“I feel like I’m progressing as a player, it’s definitely toughened me up, both mentally and physically,” said Grant, who made his thirteenth appearance for the club in last weekend’s win over Lincoln City. “It’s great playing first team football – I love it. It’s a big step up physically and mentally as well … you’ve got to have more areas to your game and more strings to you bow so you have to stay switched on all the time. It toughens you up I suppose.”
Macclesfield have just two dedicated centre-backs in their squad, Grant and George Pilkington. And as the two are poles apart in terms of their experience, 21-year old Grant admits he’s keen to tap into every ounce of his 33-year old partner. “It’s class having George alongside me, I drive in with him to training and he’s a great mentor really, I couldn’t have asked for anyone better, he’s top-class,” declared Grant, who will stay at Macclesfield until the end of the season.
Grant is hoping the time he spends at the sharp end of England’s non-league will put him in good stead going forward. “I could probably have gone back to Stoke and faded away again but I wanted to stay here, stay in this environment and thank the manager for giving me a chance as well,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll carry on as we are, that’s two clean sheets in a row and we couldn’t ask for anything better. The lads at the other end are doing their bit by putting them away as well so it’s all good.”
Saturday’s win over Lincoln put Macclesfield eight points behind leaders Barnet. “We can go all the way, I think we can win the league in all honesty,” he commented. “Barnet look shaky sometimes, I wasn’t that convinced by them when we played them. They are a good team and I can see why they’re at the top of the league but I think they’ll have to be careful because there’s a few teams breathing down their necks. If they slip up we have to be there to mop up and take advantage.”
“I think we can do it, go all the way and get promotion,” Grant continued. “We have to focus on each game, but I’d take going up in the play-offs as well. It’s a harder way to do it and it means you don’t get as long a holiday but it’d still be great to do it and get to Wembley, it would be a great experience for me and something to put on my CV – but I’d take promotion either way.”
TEMPO QUICKENS AS SEASON NEARS (courtesy inglewoodunitedfc.com.au)
Things are heating up on Inglewood United’s training track as players strive to convince new coach Michael Garcia they’re deserving of a spot in his starting eleven. Inglewood’s first game under Garcia – a Night Series clash with Armadale – is under a week away and defender Shane Pickering says the tempo and intensity at training has increased accordingly as the season opener approaches.
“Since returning from our Christmas break the players have stamped their foot on the pedal and we are well underway for a promising year, with Michael and (assistant coach) Victor Sikora in the driving seat,” Pickering enthused. “For everyone to be fit and sharp so early in the year is a massive positive, and the enthusiasm within the team at training has been excellent.”
Inglewood comes into 2015 with a renewed sense of purpose thanks to an astute recruitment drive which has revitalised the playing roster. “There is no doubt Michael has brought in some great talent,” commented Pickering, whose new teammates include Aleks Vrtestki, Jovo Pavlovic and Rikki Smith. “As a result there’s a much better balance to the squad and increased competition for spots.”
“Last year we continually had players playing out of their preferred positions,” the defender explained. “But at the minute we have two or three worthy candidates for all eleven spots on the field. Everyone knows that each session is an opportunity to impress the coaches and this creates an intense, intrinsically motivated environment for the players.”
“This has to be the most depth we’ve had in the side since I’ve been at Inglewood,” added Pickering, who has been part of the first team set-up since 2012. “The best teams in the world have depth with the players on the bench just as good as anyone on the park, that’s the way we’re looking … the Night Series will give us a good idea of where we stand.”
SAINSBURY OPEN TO NEW ROLE
Socceroo Trent Sainsbury is confident team-mate Ivan Franjic will be fit for Saturday's Asian Cup final but is ready to fill-in at right-back if his fellow defender is ruled out. Franjic suffered a hip injury late in Australia’s semi-final win over United Arab Emirates and is in doubt for the tournament decider against South Korea. "I've played there a few times for (Central Coast) Mariners and once in pre-season for (PEC) Zwolle," Sainsbury said of his potential switch of position. "It doesn't bother me, I'll just have to adjust and do what the coaches tell me. You can put me in goal if you want to, I'm not fussed. I'll go out there and do the job I'm told."
Sainsbury opened his international account against UAE by steering Massimo Luongo’s corner into the net. "To be honest I was trying to stay as calm as I could," Sainsbury said of his goal, which arrived after only 3 minutes. "My first goal with the Mariners I got a little bit too excited and five minutes later I started cramping. I just remember trying to stay calm and focus on the game. It’s about time (I scored). We've been working on (set-pieces) at training and I've been getting my head on a few but to get it in a game and in such an important match is a pretty good feeling."
ASPDEN SWITCHES NESTS FOR 2015
WA State keeper Curtis Aspden has flown the nest, after leaving The Gulls (Sorrento) to join fellow National Premier League WA club Cockburn City. The 27-Year-old, who has spent five seasons at Percy Doyle Reserve, after coming from the UK, believes the move is good for him, and he is looking forward to working with Coaches Marc Anthony and Scott Miller. “I have always known Marc, from playing against him and I’ve always had a bit of banter with him after games and with me now working in Cockburn Central it just made sense for me to move,” Aspden said. “It’s a fresh start for me with a team which is only five minutes from work, and that with a couple of additions including myself can make a real go of things this year.”
The decision to leave The Gulls was difficult, but one the former Hull City, Farsley Celtic and Northwich Victoria keeper believes is good for him. “Yes it was a difficult one after being there for so long and having made so many mates from within the club itself,” Aspden explained. “But at the end of the day I've got to do what’s best for me and I thought it made sense for me to move to Cockburn and start a fresh this year.”
Aspden had another good season at Sorrento, but injuries curtailed his impact. “I was carrying a knock for the back end of the season, which isn't an excuse, but at the end of the day I thought the team gave everything we had, and it just so happened that there was three better teams than us last year and I thought our league position was probably what we deserved,” Aspden explained. In his time at Sorrento, Aspden helped them to the league title in 2012, and back-to-back Cup wins in 2011 and 2012, but the double was a highlight. “Obviously winning the double was Sorrento’s best year ever, but just the couple of years we had with heaps of success were very pleasing for me personally and the club itself which created a great bond between the lads within the team on and off the pitch,” he said
So it’s a new start for Aspden, and he believes the squad at Cockburn is very strong and is looking forward to the new season. “Personally it’s going to be strange playing against Sorrento for sure, but even after only a couple of sessions I'm looking forward to the season,” he said. “Marc and Scotty have got the boys very sharp and already six weeks out to the start of the year things are looking up. We are a couple more additions short of a team that’s going to be right up there with Bayswater and Perth this year.”
His experience will be vital for the Cockerels this season, and he is looking for an injury free season. “It was strange after my first session as I've always been one of the younger lads at Sorrento, but just looking around this week I'm now one of the older ones,” Aspden joked. “Hopefully I can stay fit and my experience is only going to help the younger boys and we can get on a good run straight away. The Coaching staff wants us to get the ball on the ground and get it passed about quickly which is a complete u turn to what I've been used to at Sorrento, so the sooner we all get on the same wave length the quicker we will fly up the table.”
LIONS LOOK TO WOODALL FOR GOALS
It’s been a tumultuous time at Stirling Lions in the pre-season, with a number of their senior players moving on. But they have been busy in the transfer market and have secured the services of German-born English striker Brian Woodall. The 27-year-old turned down the opportunity to join Luton Town to head down under with his partner and they have both settled in well to WA life. “We settled in pretty quickly, and both have picked up jobs which is great,” Woodall said. “It’s a lovely place to live and when my mate Kyle King, who has just signed for Bayswater, told me about the league he gave me Rob Milevski’s mobile number and the rest is history as they say. I could have signed for Luton in the Conference, but to me this is a new challenge, in a new country, and one I’m really looking forward too.”
Woodall has fitted in well with the new look squad, and has endured the 30 plus degrees temperatures in the pre-season, but he believes he will be OK. “There have been a large number of players coming over from the UK to play in Australia, and of course the heat will be a huge problem, as we don’t get that much sunshine back home,” he joked. “But I’m sure I will get used to it. The lads have been great and we have some very good players, and we are really fit and rearing to go in the Night Series.” New Lions head coach Rob Milevski was happy when the striker contacted them. “We’re really pleased to have signed Brian for the season,” he said. “He’s had a long and successful career in the game in the UK and he will add quality and experience to our squad.”
The striker has played for a number of clubs in the UK, most recently with Bishop Stortford in the Conference South, but also signed a professional contract. “I signed a four-year professional contract with Dagenham and Redbridge, which was a great experience,” Woodall explained. “My time at the club was great and a hat-trick against Bristol Rovers was something I won’t forget.” The Lions begin their Night Series campaign next weekend when they take on Champions Bayswater City at Macedonia Park.
MADASCHI AND YOUNG SACKED IN NEWCASTLE CLEAN-OUT
A-League club Newcastle Jets have culled their playing and non-playing ranks by sacking five senior players and three members of the coaching staff. David Carney had his contract terminated for disciplinary reasons while Joel Griffiths, Kew Jaliens, Billy Celeski and Adrian Madaschi were sacked by owner Nathan Tinkler late today. Earlier in the day assistant coach Zane Clayton, goalkeeper coach Neil Young and strength and conditioning coach Andrew Packerwere also given their marching orders. The cleanout comes as Football Federation Australia set a deadline of this week for Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group to meet their debts.
HAROLD INJURY NOT AS SEVERE AS FIRST THOUGHT
Perth Glory have breathed a sigh of relief with young winger Chris Harold expected to miss only a month with a high-grade ankle strain. Club officials had feared the worst when Harold went down clutching his right ankle in the first half of Sunday night's home draw with Melbourne Victory. However, scans revealed the 22-year old had not sustained a ligament tear or bone fracture that would have ruled him out for months. A club spokesman said Harold was expected to miss up to four weeks with a "severe strain and bruising" to the joint.
The diagnosis will come as a welcome relief to the league leaders, who have already lost regulars Youssouf Hersi and Mitch Nichols to long-term injuries. Harold has been a shining light for Glory this season, scoring three goals in his past five outings. Glory will be forced to make at least two changes to their starting line-up for their next match against Sydney at Perth Oval on 7 February. Rostyn Griffiths joins Harold on the sidelines because of a one-match suspension after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season.
Richard Garcia is another senior player walking the suspension tightrope, having so far received four yellow cards. Coach Kenny Lowe defended his players, saying he would not discourage the physical approach adopted by the likes of Griffiths. "If you look at the stats, he's made the most tackles in the A-League," Lowe said of Griffiths. "Part and parcel of that is you're going to make the odd one that's a little bit mistimed. He's no different. He's competitive. He does a really good job."
YATES HEADS HOME TO JOONDALUP
ECU Joondalup new signing Rowdy Yates is looking forward to coming home, after signing from fellow National Premier League WA side Subiaco AFC for 2015. The 24-year-old began his football at the ECU Academy, under the tutelage of former head Coach and now committee member Syd Amphlett. “I'm really looking forward to the new season with ECU, “Yates said. “I played all my youth football at the club, so it feels good to be back here to play first team football for them.”
The move of Yates to the ECU Arena is all about Coach Dale McCulloch, and once the coach spoke to the defender he knew it was right one. “I was asked a few weeks back by Dale if I was interested in coming down to the club. I already knew it’s a top set up down there with a good manager and quality players so I it was an easy decision to make,” Yates explained.
McCulloch believes Yates will be a great pick up for his side. “We’ve had our eye Rowdy for a while, and after talking to him and explaining what we are trying to achieve at the club, we were delighted he has chosen to play for us next season,” McCulloch said. “He will add to our defensive depth, and he can also play wide in the middle of the park, which makes him a versatile player, and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Yates enjoyed his time at Subiaco, and wished them all the best next season. “It was hard to leave Subi as they gave me the opportunity to play NPL and I will always be thankful to them for that,” he explained. “Last season with Subiaco was a tough one, full of ups and downs, but I think Subiaco proved a few people wrong with some of the results we picked up last year, and I'm sure they will only get stronger.”
The pre-season is in full swing, as ECU prepares for their opening NPL Night Series game against Cockburn City next Friday and Yates believes they will be really competitive. “We have a good squad with a good mix of quality young and experienced players,” he said. “I really like Dale’s style of football and his winning mentality, he wants to win every game we play and I'm sure that will rub off on to the team so we can push on from last year and hopefully have a successful season.
SAINSBURY ON TARGET AS SOCCEROO REACH ASIAN CUP FINAL
A devastating early onslaught paved the way for Australia to advance to the Asian Cup final with a 2-0 victory over the United Arab Emirates at a rain-soaked Hunter Stadium in Newcastle. Defenders Trent Sainsbury and Jason Davidson scored their first international goals - inside the opening 15 minutes - to set-up an Asian Cup Final showdown with an unbeaten South Korean outfit on Saturday. "It was a dream start for us," said Davidson. "I think as the game went on fatigue kicked in a little bit but we hung on and kept a clean sheet."
UAE barely had time to draw breath when Sainsbury headed in, the defender rising unmarked to nod a Massimo Luongo corner down and past goalkeeper Majed Naser after only 3 minutes. Ahmed Khalil almost hit back on 10 minutes but his low shot struck the outside of Mathew Ryan's near post. Four minutes later Davidson gave Australia some breathing space with a cool finish into the bottom corner after Luongo prodded the ball into his path. Mark Milligan should have added another before the break but dragged his shot wide.
Khalil drilled narrowly wide from distance soon after the interval to signal UAE’s intention. With Australia struggling for territory, coach Ange Postecoglou introduced Matt McKay's fresh legs to the midfield in place of Mark Milligan, allowing the Socceroos to regain a foothold. Luongo almost got his name on the scoresheet, his curling left-footed effort would have found the far corner if not for a diving fingertip save from Naser.
Sainsbury capped another dominant showing with a superb sliding tackle to deny Ali Mabkhout a shot on goal in the final minute.
HERD COMPLETES WIGAN LOAN
Socceroos defender Chris Herd has joined English Championship side Wigan Athletic on loan from Aston Villa for the remainder of the campaign. Herd has endured a frustrating season with injuries and was ruled out Australia's Asian Cup campaign after hurting his Achilles tendon on the training track during the tournament. The 25-year old is hopeful of staying fit and making an impact with Wigan. "I'm very happy to sign and get the deal done until the end of the season," said Herd. "It's a great club, a Premier League club. Unfortunately that's not where the club is at the moment but it's somewhere where it belongs."
The versatile Herd, who can play as a defender or midfielder, has been with Villa for almost a decade but has been limited to just only scattered competitive appearances in the past two seasons. He spent a month on loan with Championship side Bolton Wanderers last year but made only two appearances there. "I'm 25 now so I need to be playing regular first team football and hopefully I can do that here," Herd said. "I'm going to bring a lot of energy to the team. I can play in a number of positions and I'll play wherever the manager wants me to play. I can't wait to get out there."
BIRIGHITTI JETS OUT FOR ITALY
Goalkeeper Mark Birighitti flies to Italy tomorrow to commence a loan deal with Serie B club Varese. The ambitious 23-year old was a member of the Socceroos training squad in the lead up to the World Cup last year but has been out of favour at Newcastle Jets since late November. Frustrated by a lack of A-League game time, Birighitti was desperate for a move during the transfer window and will be with AS Varese until the middle of 2015. Birighitti remains contracted to the Newcastle Jets but the agreement includes an option for the Italian club to purchase the former Perth SC junior at the end of the initial loan period.
SOCCEROOS LEGEND MOORE IS SOLD ON SAINSBURY
Australian World Cup legend Craig Moore has lavished praise on emerging Socceroos star Trent Sainsbury, saying that with more experience he could become the complete defender. Sainsbury, 23, signed for PEC Zwolle in the Netherlands' Eredivisie early last year and he has now broken into the national team. He has left a strong impression in his first major international tournament and caught the eye in Australia's 2-0 Asian Cup quarter-final victory over China in Brisbane. Sainsbury is expected to retain his place in the side to face United Arab Emirates in the second semi-final in Newcastle on Tuesday.
Sainsbury's performance was not lost on Moore, who played for Australia 52 times and was a member of the 2006 World Cup team that reached the last 16 in the competition in Germany. "Trent seems to be somebody that the more games he plays the more confident he becomes as a football player," Moore said. "In terms of defensive attributes he seems to have all the qualities. He has good pace and anticipation and he's a good passer of the ball out from the back which is important especially when you look at the way the national team is looking at playing."
"With experience he will continue to improve and judge situations a lot better. You've got to have the drive to be fit and play 95 minutes," Moore continued. "You have to have the desire to do those things and from what we've seen from Trent he has that desire. Then you start looking in terms of being the complete player with the ability to play to the team's structure. All this will come with maturity and experience … He still has a bit of work to do in terms of concentration and in professional football that concentration must be there for 90 minutes."
Moore said he was not surprised by Sainsbury's rise from a promising defender at Central Coast Mariners to a Socceroos stalwart. "I'm not surprised at all by how well he has adapted to international football," he said. "The season before he left for the Netherlands he had a very good season with the Mariners. I think he himself would agree that his performance the following season probably dipped and now that he has the opportunity to be in Europe he has to challenge himself every single day to not only improve but get a game every weekend. And if you do that you develop a lot quicker."
So is Sainsbury here for the long haul? "At times I got sucked into that one in saying that players would go on and play for Australia for the next ten years," Moore said. "The message I give to all the players is 'yes, you may have an opportunity to play for Australia for a long time but that will only come on the back of what they put in on a week to week basis and playing well enough to be in a position to continue playing for the national team. There are no guaranteed positions but if you continue to do well in whatever league you are playing in you give yourself that opportunity."
LOWE IN AWE OF GLORY'S FIGHTING SPIRIT
It's not often Kenny Lowe is lost for words, but even the Perth Glory coach is trying to find new terms to describe his team's fighting qualities. Glory put away two goals in the last twelve minutes last night to salvage a 3-3 draw against fellow title contenders Melbourne Victory and maintain a four-point buffer at the top of the table. It was the sixth time this season Glory have come from behind to either win or draw and Lowe continues to be amazed at his team's ability to snatch a result from the jaws of defeat.
"I'm going to have start looking up the dictionary for some better words: I keep using character and blue collar," Lowe said. "But in any walk of life you've got a bit of adversity and it's how you deal with that. You don't look at people when everything's plain sailing, you don't look at people when they're at the top of their game. You look at people when they've got a little bit of pain and I'll tell you what - our lads tick every single box, every single time."
GLORY SALVAGE DRAW WITH TWO LATE GOALS
A-League leaders Perth Glory scored twice in the last twelve minutes to salvage an entertaining 3-3 draw against Melbourne Victory. The away team were three-one up after finishes by Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Besart Berisha and Kosta Barbarouses were countered only by Andy Keogh. But with the clock ticking down, Rostyn Griffiths grabbed a goal back before substitute Jamie Maclaren equalised with two minutes left to send the majority in the 12,271-strong crowd at Perth Oval into raptures. Glory now hold a four-point lead over Adelaide United and third-placed Melbourne at the top of the league.
Khalfallah opened the scoring with a sizzling strike from outside the box in the 18th minute. It took only three minutes for Glory to hit back, Harold earning a penalty after being brought down by Nathan Coe and from the spot Andy Keogh pushed the ball into the bottom left as the goalkeeper dived right. Buoyed by their quick reply, the mood within the Glory camp was slightly soured in the 29th minute when Harold succumbed to an ankle injury and had to be replaced. Both sides traded blows in the middle of the park and it seemed the half would finish level when Berisha grabbed the lead back for the visitors
Melbourne tightened their grip on the game when Barbarouses opportunistically capitalised on Josh Risdon’s failed clearance in the 57th minute. Griffiths brought the difference back to a single goal in the 78th minute by heading in from a Nebojsa Marinkovic corner. With this Glory jumped back into action and in the 89th minute substitute Maclaren zeroed in on goal and brilliantly slotted inside the far post. Stoppage time efforts from Griffiths and Maclaren were deflected wide by the defence as Glory sought unsuccessfully to snatch all three points. Lowe will be without Maclaren (injury) and Griffiths (suspension) when Glory next step out, against Sydney FC on 7 February.
AUSTRALIA READY FOR UAE: SAINSBURY
Australia will not be underestimating United Arab Emirates in their Asian Cup semi-final according to Trent Sainsbury. UAE stunned Japan on penalties in the quarter-finals to book their spot in the last four but Sainsbury is confident the Socceroos are up for the challenge. “We'll go out there with 100% cent knowledge of what they’re going to bring at us and we’re going to be ready,” Sainsbury said. “We’re not going to take anything for granted, we know they’ve got a good strike force and it’s probably their main threat.”
Al Ain midfielder Omar Abdulrahman has starred for UAE at the tournament and Sainsbury knows the Socceroos will need to nullify the playmaker's influence on Tuesday. “He’s a great player, we’ve seen the talent he’s got so we’re going to have to keep a close eye on him,” he said. “Obviously one man can’t win you the game. They’ve got a great team unity and you see the fans are just as passionate as the players. We’re going to have to be on top of our game to win.”
Newcastle’s 23,000-seat Hunter Stadium, the venue for the semi-final clash, has come under fire in the lead up to the game amid calls for it to be moved to ANZ Stadium, has a capacity of 83,500, in Sydney. “It doesn’t bother me. As long as we’re going out there on the pitch and giving 100% for the fans and the badge. The boys are going to give their all, it doesn’t matter where we play,” he said. “At the same time UAE will have had a lot of fans there as well so it doesn’t really bother us. You’ve got a ball, you’ve got a pitch. We’re going to go out there and get the win.”
WILLIAMS' WORLD CUP BATTLE
World Cup hopeful Lydia Williams is edging closer to her comeback following a second knee reconstruction. After watching Canberra United win the W-League title from the sidelines, Williams notched a small milestone in her road to recovery by joining the Matildas in a camp at the Australian Institute of Sport this week. The Canberra goalkeeper is racing the clock to prove her fitness before the Matildas World Cup campaign in Canada in June.
Williams was Australia's first-choice 'keeper last year before her knee gave way while playing for the Western New York Flash in the United States' National Women's Soccer League. "I've just been working at the AIS and that's different for me because I haven't really had that opportunity with a solid gym program before," said Williams, who previously tore her anterior cruciate ligament while playing in Sweden in 2012. "I'm trying to do the simple things right and correct things that have been a little bit off. It's about simplifying it, muscular remembering, and the more I do it, the better I become."
Williams knows she faces the tough task of winning back the number one shirt jersey before the World Cup without knowing when her next game will be. "I am a little bit nervous about (the limited game time before the World Cup), it depends on what we're doing in camps and how I'm involved," she said. "I'm in the camp as an injured player on modified training so they can monitor what I'm doing. I can pretty much do everything, but it's all in controlled environments with no unpredictability. It's all about getting the strength and functional movement back."
MACLAREN EARNS GLORY A POINT
Melbourne Victory lost a perfect opportunity to reduce the lead of Perth Glory at the top of the Hyundai A-League table after throwing away a 3-1 lead, to eventually draw 3-3 in a packed house at the nib Stadium. Billed as the ‘Peoples Game’ by the Glory, it was the fans who helped them hit back late to snatch a share of the spoils. In front of over 12,000 fans it looked like they would go home disappointed two goals down with 14 minutes to play. Fahid Ben Khalfallah had given the Victory the lead early, only for Andy Keogh to level from the penalty spot. Besart Berisha put the visitors ahead before the break and Kosta Barbarouses added a third on 57 minutes. But with the fans urging them on Rostyn Griffiths pulled one back on 78 minutes, before super sub Jamie Maclaren levelled one minute from time.
Glory Coach Kenny Lowe praised his team for their fight back. "We like being behind, because we relish the comeback. I'll take the draw,” he said. “Even when we're down, we're not down. The scoreboard tells us but our players don't feel down.” Victory coach Kevin Muscat cut a forlorn figure after the match as he rued his team's failure to walk away with the three points. "We scored some very good goals, but in the end we were playing in patches and not for the full 90 minutes," he said. "We conceded some ridiculous goals."
It was a warm day in the West Australian capital, with the home side wearing a specially designed kit for the day, which incorporated the states black and gold colours. But it was the Victory who opened the better, looking to reserve the last result, where the Glory won 2-1 in Melbourne, and on 18 minutes they hit the front. Gui Finkler picked out Khalfallah on the edge of the box, and the Tunisian picked his spot and fired home powerfully past Danny Vukovic. But the home side hit back three minutes later. Chris Harold was sent racing down the right by Ruben Zadkovich’s superb through ball, and he was brought down by Victory keeper Nathan Coe, and referee Peter Green pointed straight to the spot, and Keogh did the rest to level, scoring his ninth goal of the season.
The Glory suffered a blow on 29 minute when Harold succumbed to an ankle injury and had to be replaced by new German midfielder Dragan Paljic. But three minutes before the break it was the Victory who hit the front. Victory made a quick break with Khalfallah feeding Berisha who made no mistake, firing the ball past Vukovic from eight meters.
The Victory extended their lead on 57 minutes, an attempted clearance from Josh Risdon fell to the Barbarouse, and the New Zealander made no mistake from close-range. It looked game over, but the big Glory crowd got behind their side and they were back in the game on 78 minutes. Nebojsa Marinkovic corner was headed home by Griffiths from four meters. Game on and the Glory pressed for the equaliser and it came on 89 minutes. Keogh laid the ball back to Risdon, who played the ball over the top for Maclaren, who raced clear and finished with aplomb past Coe, to send the Glory faithful into raptures.
IREDALE INJURY DEVASTATION IN LOSS TO JETS YOUTH
Perth Glory Youth defender Jack Iredale has suffered a third ACL knee injury in their 2-0 loss against Newcastle Jets in today’s National Youth League game at Rockwell Automation Park in Weston. The 18-year-old, who has represented the Young Socceroos, had to fight his way back into the side this season, and has been a solid contributor for the league leaders, but he was carried off the field on a stretcher in the first half after turning his marker in the box and his foot getting stuck in the pitch. Striker Joe Knowles said the injury left the rest of his team mates devastated. “We all felt gutted for Jack, and it showed on the pitch as soon as it happened,” he said. “Everyone’s emotions got the better of them in the first half, and we conceded two goals. But the second half we came out a lot stronger but couldn’t find the net.”
Glory Coach John Gibson made five changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Adelaide United last time out, with leading scorer Knowles returning to the starting line-up. Ryan Barker came into goal, with Riley Woodcock, Todd Norris and Calvin Whitney also in the side. The Jets were coming off a good 2-0 win on the road against Western Sydney Wanderers were out of the blocks early, with first team squad member Taylor Regan in their side.
Both sides had plenty of possession, but clear cut chances were few and far between. Iredale was forced off the pitch after only ten minutes, when he was caught be a stray elbow, the youngster coming back on with what looked a broken nose. But it was the Glory who had the first really opportunity on 25 minutes. A break down the left by Riley Woodcock ended with a cross to Knowles, whose first touch took him clear of Jets keeper Jesse Cook, but he took the ball wide and his low shot from the angle crashed off the post and way to safety.
But the game changed five minutes later when Iredale was stretched off the field, and the Jets pounced with the opening goal four minutes later. Mitch Cooper started the move finding Nick Cowburn, who played Brandon Lundy down the left. He cut inside Matt Davies and crossed to Braedyn Crowley who fired home past Ryan Barker from close-range. It got worse for the Glory in the last minute of the first half when the home side doubled their advantage. A corner was whipped into the back post and Reece Papadimirios finished past Baker.
A shell-shocked Glory looked to hit back, but was struggling to break down a tight Jets defence. The best chance fell to lively winger Borbor Sam. He picked the ball up in the middle of the park and ran at the Jets, leaving four players in his wake, taking him one-on-one with Cook. His low shot beat the Jets custodian but to the Glory’s disappointed the post came to his rescue. The Glory continued to press but couldn’t find a break through and at the final whistle it was the Jets who ran out winners, but the thoughts of Glory coaches, players and supporters are with Jack Iredale and his devastating injury – Get well soon Jack!!! .
FORMER GLORY STRIKER JOINS BURGESS AT ROSS COUNTY
Former Perth Glory striker Darvydas Sernas has become Ross County's fourth signing of the January transfer window, and will join up with former ECU Joondalup defender Cameron Burgess. The Victoria Park club have added the Lithuania to their squad, after stints in Russia, Turkey and the Glory. Most recently he was playing with Wigry Suwalki in the Polish second division.
This month County boss Jim McIntyre has already brought in former Celtic defender Marcus Fraser, striker Craig Curran and Young Socceroo Burgess, who has joined on loan from Fulham. McIntyre said: "He has 35 international caps for Lithuania under his belt, bringing a wealth of experience to the squad." County are currently four points adrift of St Mirren at the bottom of the table, albeit with two games in hand.
MACKAY BACK ON BOARD FOR 2015 (courtesy footballwest.com.au)
Long-serving director Rob Mackay has renewed his Football West involvement with his appointment to the Board at the first meeting of 2015. Mackay, who resigned from his elected position at last month’s Annual General Meeting as required by the Constitution, was delighted to return to the Board by invitation. At Tuesday’s meeting, Liam Twigger was re-appointed Football West Chairman and Henry Atturo will again occupy the position of Deputy Chairman.
Respected journalist and media personality Gary Adshead and former Perth Glory and Australian international goalkeeper Jason Petkovic attended their first Board meeting following their election in December. Mackay had no hesitation accepting his appointment after many years in the game. “The bottom line is that I love the game,” Mackay said. “I’ve been involved for a long time but I don’t think my job is done. I know I’ve got a lot more to offer the game at what is a very exciting period for football in WA. “I’m passionate about football – it’s in my blood – and I want to help the game to continue to grow as the city and State grows, too.”
FOOTBALL WEST TAKES FIRM ACTION ON DISCRIMINATORY COMMENTS (courtesy footballwest.com.au)
Mandurah City has been fined $5000 by Football West for comments made by the club’s President on social media in December. The club and its President, Peter Rowe, were found to have breached the Code of Conduct by bringing the game into disrepute. Based on Rowe’s apparent contrition, Football West has chosen to suspend $4000 of the fine for 12 months.
In considering an appropriate penalty, Football West noted that any form of discriminatory comment is entirely unacceptable, the effect of those comments can be magnified and can be seen to be the view of the entire club regardless of whether that is the case. Football West also noted that Mr Rowe had apologised for his comments, which he said were made at a “moment of extreme anxiety” during or immediately after the recent siege in Sydney. Should any member of the Mandurah City committee be found to have brought the game into disrepute by exhibiting discriminatory behaviour, including public disparagement of, discrimination against, or vilification of a person on account of an Attribute within that period, the remaining $4,000 will become immediately due and the suspension revoked.
NO ONE CAN TOUCH US SAYS SAINSBURY
Defender Trent Sainsbury has issued a very stern warning to the Socceroos’ Asian Cup rivals. Australia blew away China 2-0 in last night’s round of eight and Sainsbury believes his teams’ superior fitness will hold them in good stead for the semi-finals, and beyond. “I don’t think anyone in the tournament can stay with us, stamina wise,” the Dutch-based defender said. “We’re going to choke teams till they give in. It happened tonight. The first 20 minutes they (China) pushed up but they just couldn’t stay with us.”
The Socceroos killed off China with two brilliant goals later in the clash during which Tim Cahill netted twice in a devastating 16-minute spell. Sainsbury added the half-time message was one of patience. “Ange said treat it like a boxing match – you can’t win the game in the first five minutes,” he said. “We had to keep going round for round and pick our moments. And then wear them down …The boys have 100% faith that we can win this thing but we’ll focus on the next game whoever that is.”
Sainsbury had a chance in the first half from a set-piece to open the scoring but his powerful header went over the bar. “I think I got about 50 messages already saying, ‘ya plonker’. So I’ll have to reply to a few messages,” he commented. Sainsbury’s new central defensive partner against China was Alex Wilkinson, in for suspended Matt Spiranovic, and the K-League star impressed in his first game of the tournament. “Everyone has a job to do. Everyone can fill a position. So if you come in off the bench you do it 100%,” said Sainsbury.
The Socceroos head to Newcastle now for a semi-final date with either Japan or the United Arab Emirates. Sainsbury could not help but be impressed by Cahill’s extraordinary exploits. “He's just like wine, he just keeps getting better with age,” said the 23-year old defender, before offering a cautionary note. “(But) it’s not Timmy Australia; it’s Team Australia. We’ve got (Tomi) Juric on the bench and he’s a big boy who can hold up the ball and score goals for us. So we’re not worried if we lose one player (like Cahill).”
CAHILL PROPELS SOCCEROOS INTO ASIAN CUP LAST FOUR
A second half brace by veteran Tim Cahill has put Australia through to the Asian Cup semi-finals with a 2-0 win over China in Brisbane. Cahill opened his account with an audacious bicycle kick just minutes into the second half before sealing victory with a trademark header soon after the hour. “That man again, Tim Cahill, comes up with the goods,” said captain Mile Jedinak. “We knew if we kept (our shape), especially in the first 10, 15 minutes in the second half, that we’d get our opportunities and that’s the way it panned out. Overall, a fantastic team effort … I am very proud of my team at the minute.”
The 46,067-strong crowd endured a nervous opening half hour as the pace of Sun Ke and Wu Lei caused problems for the Australian defence. But despite being called into action on several occasions, Socceroos custodian Mat Ryan remained unbeaten before his team, who enjoyed 77% of possession, clicked into gear. A rasping left-foot drive from Matthew Leckie forced a save from Chinese goalkeeper Wang Dalei, while Trent Sainsbury spurned a golden close-range opportunity by heading over from a corner.
The deadlock was snapped four minutes after the interval, Leckie heading a partially cleared corner back into the box where Cahill hit an acrobatic overhead kick past Dalei, who was caught flat-footed by the veteran’s finish. Cahill made the game safe in the 65th minute, powerfully heading in a cross from left-back Jason Davidson to make it two-nil. Australia will meet either Japan or the United Arab Emirates in Sunday’s semi-final in Newcastle.
GLORY GUNNING FOR VICTORY
Perth Glory will resume its march towards a maiden A-League premiership when it takes on Melbourne Victory in ‘The Peoples Game’ at Perth Oval on Sunday evening. After the mid-season break, Kenny Lowe and his team will be in prime condition for the Australia Day eve clash which promises thrills on and off the pitch. Fans can look forward to an Australia Day theme with sausage sizzles, a concert and a kick around after the match on the hallow Perth Oval turf, as well as the giant clash between the table topping Glory and third-placed Melbourne.
New recruit Dragan Paljic, most recently of Dutch club Heracles Almelo, is in line to make his first appearance as star striker Andy Keogh looks to add to the eight goals he’s bagged so far this summer. “Every game is a big game for us, it’s no different to any other,” said Lowe, whose team have beaten Melbourne twice this season already. “Hopefully we can continue our solid run at home, as we start the second half of the season.” Glory will be playing in a specially designed Australia Day kit, which features the traditional black and gold of Western Australia.
GLORY WON’T BE RESTING ON LAURELS: JAMIESON
Perth Glory defender Scott Jamieson is confident the side can continue the form that has sent it to the top of the A-League when the competition resumes this weekend. Jamieson and his team mates play their first game in three weeks against third-placed Melbourne Victory at Perth Oval on Sunday following a three-week break due to the Asian Cup. "We recharged the batteries for a few days, the training has ramped up over the last six, seven days and we're in a good phase," Jamieson said. "We're top of the league, four points clear, so if you're mentally struggling after that there's something wrong with you."
Glory have already chalked up two wins over Melbourne, 4-2 in the FFA Cup quarter-finals and 2-1 in their first A-League meeting of the season earlier this month. "We're very confident," Jamieson said. "We've played them twice and beat them twice. If you beat a team twice I'd like to think you've got a little bit of an edge over them. They are obviously disappointed we beat them last time, but it's always hard to come over here and have the mental edge after we beat them last time. If we can beat them again and go seven points clear it will be another mental edge over them."
A-LEAGUE READY FOR TAKE-OFF SAYS KEOGH
Perth Glory hitman, Andy Keogh, says the lack of infrastructure is the only thing stopping the A-League from “really taking off”. A haul of thirteen goals and eight assists in both the FFA Cup and A-League has reignited the Irish International’s club career and helped sweep his West Australian club outfit to the top of the league. Keogh, who played in the English topflight with Wolverhampton Wanderers, says he’s been impressed with the quality of the domestic comp.
“I think the fresh challenge is what I needed,” Keogh told fourfourtwo.com/au “I’m feeling good and playing well, I still feel there is more to come and I can only get better as the more games I play. (The A-League) is very competitive, the players are very fit and it’s a very good standard of football. I think it’s only going to get better and, with a bit more investment in the infrastructure, it could really take off. In the future it could be a really attractive proposition for (overseas) players.”
Keogh said he looked Down Under for his next football gig after opportunities in England started to dry up. “The contract situations in England are deteriorating at the minute and I wanted to do something different and go against the grain,” he said. “It was a good opportunity as well to come over here and explore my options. I obviously did my research before I decided to sign here I was impressed with what I saw. Obviously having family in Perth, as well the weather and lifestyle and, it all just came together and in the end it was an easy decision to be honest.”
Before losing to Adelaide United going into the Asian Cup break, Perth were unbeaten at home with six straight wins. At the same stage last season Glory had won just one away game and lost four. In contrast, this season they have won four on the road and lost one. “We’ve approached it with a good mentality (this season),” Keogh said. “We’ve approached it with good fitness levels training and good preparation before games. It’s all to do with people’s mindsets. Now we’ve got a group of players that believe in all that we want to do and that goes a long way to helping.”
Keogh has represented Ireland in senior international football 30 times and while he still harbour’s hope of one day playing for his country again, the 28-year old says he’s concentrating on picking up silverware with Glory. “Of course (I want to play for Ireland again) but I think that’s a long shot,” he admitted. “I’m not concentrating on that too much. I’m concentrating on my goals over here and establishing myself as a good player in the A League. My goal is to win things, and do well and I think with hard work and dedication the goals will come.”
For the football journeyman, who has lined-up for ten different clubs since 2003, playing a season for Wolves is the high-water mark. “Making my debut for my country and scoring the goal that helped us (Wolves) get promoted (to the EPL) are my greatest achievement as a player,” he said. “I don’t have any disappointments - I just have situations that have happened in my career that have been learning curves really. I picked up an ankle injury when I was at Wolves - you learn a bit more about your body then. You’re not just learning as a footballer your learning as a human being and a man.”
SOUTH KOREA DOWN SOCCEROOS IN ASIAN CUP
South Korea stole top billing of their Asian Cup group by triumphing 1-0 over Australia this evening at Suncorp Stadium. Korean Lee Jeong-hyeop scored the winner in the first half as Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou rested attacking trio Tim Cahill, Robbie Kruse and Mathew Leckie from his starting line-up. Australia also had a third captain in as many games in Mark Milligan, with Postecoglou giving regular skipper Mile Jedinak more time to recover from an ankle injury. The Socceroos will remain in Brisbane for their quarter-final showdown with China next Thursday.
The Socceroos crafted plenty of genuine chances - six shots on goal to their opponents’ three - on a steamy night in front of a sell-out 48,513 crowd. But it was the South Korean’s that found the net in the 32nd minute, Lee Keun Ho arrowing a low centre into the 6-yard box where a sliding Lee Jeong-hyeop deflected the ball under goalkeeper Matt Ryan. Four minutes later the Socceroos went agonisingly close to equalising, James Troisi's shot on the turn hitting the side netting. It was among many opportunities the Socceroos had to draw level without success.
Eight minutes after the turnaround Tomi Juric failed to control the ball with the inside of his boot and sprayed the chance wide. Nathan Burns also threatened in the 70th minute when he tore through the visitor's defence only for his vicious right-footer to be saved by Kim Jin-hyeon. Kruse had a gilt-edged chance to square the scores in the 88th minute when Jin-hyeon produced another fine save in a one-on-one situation. Australia's night was further tarnished when central defender Matthew Spiranovic collected a yellow card, his second of the tournament, meaning he will miss the quarter-final.
MANAGER HAS HIGH HOPES FOR BURGESS
Ross County manager Jim McIntyre feels the promise of first team football can help loan signing Cameron Burgess thrive at Victoria Park. Burgess joined County on loan until the end of the season late last week, shortly after agreeing a new two-year contract with English Championship side Fulham. The 19-year old defender grew up in Perth’s northern suburbs, playing juniors for ECU Joondalup, and last year pledged his international future to Australia, who he’s represented at Under-20 and 23 levels.
Burgess played the first four games of the Championship season for Fulham but has not featured since and McIntyre feels all parties will benefit from the move. “He is 6ft 4in, a left-sided centre back, and he’s a youngster we think has a good chance. He comes highly recommended,” said McIntyre. “He’s a big lad desperate for more first team experience. We’ll give him the chance and the rest is up to him. We feel, and Fulham feel, it is a great platform for him coming here.”
CLISBY OFF TO MELBOURNE
Melbourne City has added Perth Glory defender Jack Clisby to its ranks for the second half of the A-League campaign. Capable of playing either at left-back or in the centre of defence, Clisby will remain with Melbourne through to the end of the 2015/16 season. The 22-year old shot to prominence in 2012 with Inglewood United, winning that year’s Gold Medal and a few months later signed his first professional deal with Glory.
Clisby enjoyed a breakthrough 2013/14 campaign with Glory but has found first team opportunities hard to come by this season. “I’d like to thank the fans and supporters for their continued loyalty,” commented the defender, who chalked up 29 A-League appearances for his hometown club. “It’s been a difficult decision to leave a club at the top of the table but I feel this is the best for my career going forward.”
Melbourne coach John van’t Schip said Clisby would add depth to his squad for the second half of the A-League season. “Jack has been on our radar for some time and we are happy to welcome him to Melbourne and expect him to be an important contributor to the team,” van’t Schip said. “Jack comes to us at a time where we require depth as we embark on a busy fixture schedule in February and for the remainder of the season.”
Melbourne play five games in February; four in Melbourne against Western Sydney Wanderers, Melbourne Victory, Glory and Adelaide United as well as a trip to New Zealand to face Wellington Phoenix. Clisby is the club's second arrival during the mid-season transfer window after Socceroos striker Josh Kennedy.
JAMIESON COMMITS TO TWO MORE YEARS OF GLORY
Perth Glory is excited to announce defender Scott Jamieson has signed for a further two years with the A-League leaders. Sydney-born Jamieson has played every game so far this season after returning from an Achilles injury which ruled him out for most of last year. “I’ve settled in well here in the past couple of years and I've always said Perth is a beautiful place so I'm very happy to be staying," Jamieson said.
Jamieson made national headlines this season by netting a sensational free-kick against Western Sydney Wanderers in front of more than 12,000 screaming home fans. “I definitely want to see those fans buzzing again, so I’ll be doing my best to knock them in when I can,“ the defender said. "The team has made a great start to the season and my goal now is help the team to finish strongly at the top of the league, qualify for the Asian Champions League, but above all win the Premier's plate."
TAGGART SUFFERS ANOTHER SETBACK
Fulham striker Adam Taggart will have to wait a little longer to make his English league debut. Taggart was supposed to have made his first team debut this month after suffering six months of groin problems that required surgery. But, despite after a run with the Reserves last month, the 21-year old has met with more bad fortune. "Strength-wise Adam's left side has shown to be not as strong as his right. So it was worth taking him out of training to strengthen that up," manager Kit Symons explained. "Because he's missed so much football, when he's fully fit we'll look for a loan opportunity to get him back playing games."
INJURY ENDS HERD’S ASIAN CUP
Socceroos defender Chris Herd has been ruled out of the Asian Cup after losing another battle with injury. Herd suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon at training in the lead-up to Australia's clash with Oman on Tuesday. National team medical staff treated the 25-year old but decided there was no prospect of Herd returning later in the tournament. "It's disappointing for the team and especially for Chris that he is unable to continue," Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou said. "It has been determined it is in Chris' best interests that he returns to Aston Villa for rehabilitation to ensure he can get back on the pitch." Tournament rules mean Herd cannot be replaced, reducing Australia's squad to 22 players.
ROSS COUNTY TAKE BURGESS ON LOAN
Scottish club Ross County have signed Fulham defender Cameron Burgess on loan until the end of the season. Aberdeen-born Burgess made four appearances for the Cottagers at the start of this season and had been loaned out for the second half of the campaign to gain more first team experience. The 19-year old defender grew up in Perth’s northern suburbs, playing juniors for ECU Joondalup, and last year pledged his international future to Australia, who he’s represented at Under-20 and 23 levels.
SOCCEROOS TROUNCE OMAN IN ASIAN CUP
Australia waltzed into the Asian Cup quarter-finals with a dazzling 4-0 rout of Oman tonight in Sydney. Goals rained as veteran Matt McKay, livewire Robbie Kruse and evergreen Mark Milligan scored in a 20-minute blitz before substitute Tomi Juric later added another. The results cemented Australia's place in the tournament's knock-out stage, the Socceroos holding a six-goal buffer on also qualified South Korea, who they meet in Brisbane on Saturday night. The Socceroos will head the group if they win or even draw that match.
The Socceroos dismantled Oman with style and substance before a raucous 50,276-strong crowd. The rout began with a rare goal from McKay, whose point-blank finish came after Trent Sainsbury nodded down a 27th minute Massimo Luongo corner. Three minutes later Luongo lobbed through to Kruse, who nudged the ball with his thigh before drilling low under goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi. Milligan completed the first half tally by converting from the penalty spot after Tim Cahill was hauled to the ground by a defender.
The second half provided more of the same, despite Australia replacing two of its stand-out performers in Cahill and Luongo in the opening minutes. Their fourth goal arrived in the 70th minute with the ever-influential Leckie delivered a precision cross to the awaiting Juric, who made no mistake. Only the sharp reflexes of Al Habsi denied both Milligan and Juric from adding further gloss to the score late on but it mattered little on a memorable night for the Socceroos.
PALJIC LOOKING FOR GLORY AFTER MOVING DOWN UNDER
New signing Dragan Paljic will use the rest of the Asian Cup break to ensure he can slot into the Perth Glory squad in time for their next game, against Melbourne Victory on 25 January. The 31-year old German left winger arrived in Perth at the weekend fresh from a two-year stint with Dutch club Heracles Almelo. Paljic, who joins Glory as an injury replacement for Youssouf Hersi, was given a brief introduction to local conditions with a brutal training session in 30C heat this morning.
Paljic said it was former teammate Jason Davidson and ex-Glory striker Branko Jelic who convinced him to make the move to Perth. " I have heard many good things about Australian football, from my friend Jason Davidson and his father Alan who’ve only spoken positively about the league and the growth of the sport here," he said. "I talked also with former player Branko Jelic and he told me a lot of good things about the team; that they have winning mentality and a good coach who wants to play football. I think it's a good step."
Paljic hasn't played a game in three months, but said he'll be ready to go by the Victory fixture. He said would play out his term as an injury replacement player before sitting down with the club and deciding whether to pursue a longer stay. "I come as a replacement so the risk is low for the club and for me," he said. "The first impression is very good, from the city and also from the teammates and coaching staff. But as I said, we'll see. Performance on the pitch is most important."
Prior to his stint in the Netherlands, Paljic played for German clubs TSV 1860 München II, Olympia Laupheim, Hoffenheim and Kaiserslautern as well as Polish side Wisla Krakow, winning the league with the latter in 2010/11. "Dragan is a professional, played at a top level and by all accounts is a top act," coach Kenny Lowe said. "He can play on the wing or in the midfield so he's a quality player and versatile which is what we’re looking for going forward." Paljic will wear the number shirt for the second half of the A-league season.
SAINSBURY SETTLED AT CENTRE-BACK
Trent Sainsbury is adamant the Socceroos still have plenty to do to prove the doubters wrong. Friday night’s 4-1 drubbing of Kuwait may have given Australia a dream start to their Asian Cup campaign but it was just the third victory in thirteen games under coach Ange Postecoglou. It’s why there’s no chance the side will be taking their foot off the gas tomorrow night against what is likely to be a desperate Oman line-up. “We’re going to be desperate also,” Sainsbury declared. “We’re at home, we have a point to prove and we want to get that three points.”
It’s not just the team that has something to prove but Sainsbury himself, after he got the nod to start in central defence to partner Matthew Spiranovic, ahead of close mate Alex Wilkinson. “It gives me a great deal of confidence from Ange to put me in the team,” Sainsbury said. “Hopefully I did enough to keep that spot and make it my own. There’s plenty of players that are pushing me for my spot and competition for spots is great. The more games (Spiranovic and I) play together the better understanding you get. If we keep working and continue to play well during the tournament hopefully we can both nail down the spots.”
Australia has spent the past few days looking at where they can improve before facing off with Oman. “We’ve had little discussions about it but we haven’t done it as a whole team,” said Sainsbury, who recognised the way the Socceroos allowed Kuwait to take the lead from a set piece will be the topic of much discussion within the squad. “The team conceded the goal, not just the defence. But we’re going to have a look at it and see what we can come up with. We got off to a great start against Kuwait but this games just as equally important if not more so. If we get that three points we’re through so it’s a massive game for us and Australia.”
BABALJ TO LEAVE ALKMAAR
AZ Alkmaar may allow Eli Babalj to leave during the January transfer window after the 22-year old striker failed to break into the first team. Babalj, 22, signed for Alkmaar in April 2013 but is yet to make his first team debut. His first season was plagued by injuries and this season he’s been unsuccessful in forcing his way into the side. "We signed Eli because we saw certain qualities in him, but they have not yet materialised,” Alkmaar technical director Ernie Stewart said. Babalj, a former Perth SC junior, shot to prominence with Melbourne Heart and represented Australia twice at senior international level in 2012.
TOMBIDES HARBOURS HIGH EXPECTATIONS
West Ham United’s Taylor Tombides says he is happy to harbour high expectations after making an immediate impression at Canvey Island. 18-year old Tombides announced his arrival in England’s Isthmian Premier League with a hat-trick on his debut in last weekend’s 4-3 loss to Bury Town. And Tombides says he can’t wait to pull on the yellow jersey again when Maidstone United come to town today.
“Getting three goals was a dream and all I could have asked for was for the team to win,” said Tombides. “It doesn’t get much better than that, but I couldn’t have scored any of those goals without the team. I knew I was playing up front before the game and it was a different experience for me in a new system. I normally play in a 4-3-3, but to play up front with a target man was something I enjoyed. Doing well on your debut means people expect more from you, but I am happy to have that pressure.”
Tombides is not short of confidence and admits he is more than happy to get stuck in as Canvey look to pull themselves away from the relegation places. “I am a clinical finisher and can score different types of goals,” he said. “But I also like to get back and help the defence if I play slightly deeper. I’m not afraid to get dirty and tackle. Canvey are a good team and my early impressions have been really positive … Canvey want to play football the right way and I know I am going to enjoy my time here.”
SAINSBURY: KUWAIT RAN OUT OF LEGS
Socceroos centre-back Trent Sainsbury says Kuwait ran out of steam in last night’s opening game of the Asian Cup. Australia went a goal down to Kuwait early before rebounding to claim a 4-1 win in the tournament opener. “The early goal was a little hiccup for us,” Sainsbury said. “We’ll analyse it and come back bigger and better and stronger in the next game. It’s disappointing to concede from a set-piece obviously but in the end we rallied together and the pressure we put on the opposition told at the end. They ran out of legs so it’s a good sign to get off with a win.”
Sainsbury, who played his junior football at Armadale, partnered Matt Spiranovic in the heart of the Australian defence for the first time. The 23-year old said there is still a bit of fine-tuning to be done to his fledgling partnership with Spiranovic. “Spira’s a great player,” Sainsbury said. “We’ve got a few communication things to work on, especially for myself. There was one or two times with a player in his back and I didn’t take him. So that was my fault. But in the end we can work on that for the next game.”
Sainsbury could not be happier about getting a win from the Socceroos first Asian Cup game. “It’s a relief to get the three points obviously. To do it in style and in the manner that we did is more pleasing to us than anything else,” he said. Australia’s next game is on Tuesday against Oman, who Sainsbury expects to offer more than Kuwait in an attacking sense. “I think they’ll be a bit of a tougher opposition. Probably more offensive than the Kuwaitis, but at the same time we’ll be prepared for them when the next game comes.”
AUSTRALIA DOWN KUWAIT IN ASIAN CUP OPENER
Australia's trusty old-timer and a brash newcomer were the life of the Asian Cup housewarming party as the Socceroos thumped Kuwait 4-1 tonight in Melbourne. Ali Hussein Fadhel put Kuwait ahead early before Tim Cahill balanced the ledger after which newcomer Massimo Luongo, captain Mile Jedinak and James Troisi put the net to secure the Socceroo’s victory.
The parochial sell-out 25,231-strong crowd was hushed after just 8 minutes with Fadhel converting a diving header as Australia’s defence was pulled out of position at a corner. Cahill came to the rescue with the crispest of strikes some 25 minutes later, the veteran striker sending Luongo’s precision cut-back into the roof of the net. Luongo, making his first appearance in Australia, capped his stunning opening half by leaping highest to nod in Ivan Franjic’s cross after 44 minutes.
Any thoughts the break came at a bad time for Australia were quickly dispelled when Mathew Leckie hit the crossbar early in the second period. With 62 minutes gone Kruse was tripped inside the area by Sultan Alenezi and from the spot Jedinak made no mistake. Kuwait came back into the game with Fahed al Ebrahim forcing a stunning save from goalkeeper Mat Ryan. Substitute Nathan Burns headed against the bar and Tomi Juric fired shots straight at the ‘keeper before Troisi sealed the win from a narrow angle in the 91st minute.
Coach Ange Postecoglou was pleased with how the Socceroos responded to handing Kuwait an early lead. “Obviously we are pleased with the result, it was great reward for the players' effort,” he said. “Sometimes things don't go to plan, it's how you react that is important (and) they didn't go into their shells … We played with a lot of energy. We knew if we kept the tempo high we’d wear them down. We scored a couple of good goals and probably should’ve had a couple more.”
DANISH TRIAL FOR DUNCAN
Perth Glory goalkeeper Jack Duncan has secured a trial with high-flying Danish club Randers. Duncan will spend the next fortnight with Randers, who currently sit third in the Superliga, in pursuit of landing a professional deal with the club. “As a footballer you want to play at the highest possible level and hopefully this may lead to that goal” Perth-born Duncan said. “Playing in Denmark is an opportunity not to be missed and playing in Europe has been a long term goal for me … this is an ideal time to seize the moment.” Duncan, 21, has made seven A-League appearances, for Glory and Newcastle Jets, and has represented Australia at Under-20 and 23 levels.
VELAPHI LOSES RED CARD APPEAL
Melbourne City goalkeeper Tando Velaphi has lost his appeal against the red card received in Sunday's A-League defeat to the Central Coast Mariners. Velaphi was sent off in the 60th minute of the loss after fouling Mitchell Duke outside the area. A three-man independent match review panel looked at the incident but ruled that referee Peter Green's decision was correct. "Tando Velaphi will serve a suspension of one match, being the minimum sanction for the offence of denying the opposing team an obvious goal-scoring opportunity," the panel said. Melbourne are heading to Abu Dhabi for a 12-day training camp during the A-League mid-season break.
PFA UPSET BY HEAT
Players have reported suffering vomiting, headaches and excessive weight loss since the sweltering A-League clash between Perth Glory and Adelaide United, according to Professional Footballers Australia. The match was delayed by half an hour to 5.30pm but temperatures were still nudging 39C at kick-off and 35C when the 90 minutes were up. The players’ association plans to investigate why its request to further delay Monday's match at Perth Oval was not heeded.
Chief executive Adam Vivian said the PFA remains concerned for the welfare of those involved in Monday’s game. "Some players have since reported heat illnesses, including excessive weight loss, headaches and vomiting," said Vivian. "The PFA will continue to monitor the players' health and will be conducting further discussions with Football Federation Australia and the clubs. We will be asking them to share with us the advice in which they were satisfied the players' health and safety was not compromised by proceeding with the match at that time."
Vivian noted Glory’s next A-League fixture was scheduled to kick-off at 5.00pm on 25 January, a time of the year when Perth temperatures are known to exceed 40C. FFA's heat policy is superior to that of FIFA in terms of player health and safety, but Vivian said PFA would continue working with experts to ensure it was the best possible. "The professionalism of the players and the support of the fans in extremely difficult conditions must be acknowledged,” he said. "Post-match the players have expressed their disappointment that their efforts were affected by the conditions."
HEAT GETS TO THWAITE
He doesn’t care how they do it, but Perth Glory captain Michael Thwaite says the Football Federation Australia must work out a way to avoid games being played in searing heat next season. Glory played out Monday’s home loss to Adelaide on a day where temperatures surpassed past 44C, Perth’s third-hottest January day on record. It was the second time in four days Glory had been forced to play in temperatures greater than 35C after defeating Melbourne Victory on Friday.
Following discussions with Professional Footballers Australia, FFA agreed to pushed Monday’s start time back to 5.30pm but Thwaite says more had to be done. “To be honest I think it could have been stretched to a night game,” he commented. “I think we’re getting smarter about those things, especially with the PFA getting involved. We can’t be stupid about these things when you’ve got players’ health (at risk). You saw with Chris Harold coming off after 20 minutes, it goes to show some players are going to react differently.”
Thwaite backed the PFA’s push to have all games scheduled at 6.00pm or later next season. “Especially in Perth, we’ve experienced a few games like this now and I think that’s a good call,” he said. “With the time difference we’ve got to evaluate things, but that’s for those people to worry about.” Despite last night’s loss, Glory remain four points clear at the top of the table. The players will have the rest of the week away from the club going into the month-long Asian Cup break.
LOWE MAKING NO EXCUSES
Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe refused to use the short turnaround and oppressive conditions as an excuse for last night's 2-1 loss to bogy side Adelaide United. The league leaders were left to rue their own defensive carelessness in a match played in 35C-plus heat. The result denied Glory an A-League record ninth straight win at home and ended their ten-game unbeaten league streak. Glory's woes were compounded with Chris Harold exiting after 25 minutes through heat fatigue and Rostyn Griffiths collecting his fifth yellow card of the campaign.
Lowe would not blame having to back up against Adelaide three days after taking out all three points over Melbourne Victory. "I don't want to make excuses," Lowe said. "All I know is that our lads put a shift in and really worked their socks off and they were so genuine and honest. You can't fault them. There were certain road blocks put in the way by other people and other situations, but that's not for us to speak about." Glory officials had earlier tried to have the match's start time of 5.30pm pushed back further because of the extreme heat.
Nebojsa Marinkovic continued Glory's trend of scoring early, striking into the bottom corner after 11 minutes, only for finishes from Craig Goodwin and James Jeggo to give Adelaide the win. Lowe refused to concede Adelaide, who have won all three games with Glory so far this season, had the wood over his team. "They just probably catch us with ten men in a final and then coming off the back of a two-day turnaround," he said. "I would say that's quite fortunate for Adelaide." Glory head into their three-week Asian Cup break with a four-point lead over second-placed Wellington Phoenix.
HERD KEEN TO LEAVE ASIAN CUP MARK
Aston Villa defender Chris Herd typifies the character of the current Socceroos set-up. Herd rose to prominence as a teenager thanks to his ability to play anywhere across the backline. That versatility has not been lost on Australia coach Postecoglou. who included the hard-working 25-year old in his squad for the upcoming Asian Cup tournament. "We all have a winning mentality and I think that's a good thing to have as a team," said Herd, who feels the group atmosphere will drive the Socceroos through the Cup. "Everyone helps each other and it's a great environment to be in."
While focused on the team, Herd also knows this is a chance to get himself into the shop window for a possible club transfer. Out of contract in six months, he has had just 180 minutes of game time under his belt this season, on loan with second-tier Bolton Wanderers. "Out of this camp I'm just concentrating on my job here," he said. "It's no secret my contract's up in the summer, I can't rule out anything at the moment. But I'm focused on the Asian Cup, the other stuff will take care of itself." Australia’s Asian Cup campaign begins against Kuwait this Friday.
ADELAIDE END GLORY'S UNBEATEN RUN (courtesy perthglory.com.au)
Adelaide United came from behind to score a 2-1 win over Hyundai A-League leaders Perth Glory in humid conditions at nib Stadium.. Glory took the lead through Nebojsa Marinkovic after 11 minutes before Craig Goodwin and James Jeggo found the back of the net either side of half-time to help the Reds snatch a third straight victory over Perth this season, including last month’s Westfield FFA Cup grand final triumph, in a match that kicked off in 36C heat and finished with the match still sitting above 32C. The Reds remain the only side to beat Glory this season and will head into the Asian Cup break just six points adrift of Kenny Lowe’s side.
FIXTURING HAS LOWE HOT UNDER THE COLLAR
Perth Glory may alter their starting line-up for tonight's grudge match against Adelaide United as they cope with their second game in sweltering conditions in three days. Coach Kenny Lowe is unhappy about the short turnaround since Friday night's 2-1 triumph away at Melbourne Victory, despite the A-League pushing kick-off back 30 minutes to 5.30pm with 41C heat forecast. The league leaders held an extended recovery session in Perth yesterday, after Friday's clash in Geelong that started with the temperature at 37C.
Lowe rebuked Football Federation Australia for giving Glory such a tough schedule at the height of summer. "It's ridiculous that we play given the amount of time after that game, especially with our travelling and flying … It's ludicrous, but there's nothing we can do about that," said Lowe, who is worried about his players welfare. "Everybody in our team gives 150 per cent, every single player. There's a few lads who are a little bit tight after that and it takes us two days to get them even on the training ground. We've got to be really careful in what we do for the game."
Striker Andy Keogh, who scored his eighth league goal of the season against Victory, said the Geelong game was tough. "It was very hot, very humid," Keogh said. "But we've got to deal with these conditions as the other team did and I think, as the result shows, we dealt with them better." One player pushing for a recall to the starting line-up is teenager Danny De Silva, who has trained strongly after being rested from the Melbourne win with muscle soreness. Brandon O'Neill has also been promoted to the matchday squad.
SCORCHING HEAT HAZARDOUS FOR PLAYERS AND FANS: SAGE
Perth Glory's chairman is furious tonight’s game with Adelaide United will go ahead tonight in near 40 degree Celsius temperatures. Perth is set to swelter with a forecast top of 41C and the Bureau of Meteorology predicts the two sides will face tough conditions. Kick-off at Perth Oval tonight has been pushed back 30 minutes to 5.30pm, however, both Glory and the Professional Footballers Association had been arguing for the game to be further delayed, a call which the Football Federation of Australia rejected.
Glory chairman Tony Sage said he was disappointed more was not being done to protect players. "It's a huge player welfare issue but also it's a welfare issue for our crowd," he said. "They (the FFA) don't like starting games past 8pm (Eastern Standard Time) but really player safety and crowd comfort should come before people in the eastern states wanting to watch it … when you put games on in Perth when the city is sweltering in 30-plus degree heat, most of the fans would rather sit in the air-conditioning at home and watch it live or still be at the beach."
PFA chief executive Adam Vivian said he was very concerned about the potential consequences of the heat. "Under those circumstances the concern isn't just the risk, but it's also that it's very hot and unless they can give it 100 per cent then we should really look at postponing or delaying the match," he said. "The players want to go out there and put on the best display they can and give it 100 per cent all of the time, for the fans and for themselves." Glory’s win over Melbourne Victory on Friday began while the temperature was 37 degrees.
GLORY AIM FOR RECORD IN GRUDGE MATCH
The inaugural FFA Cup Final may be done and dusted but Perth Glory still have a little score to settle. Glory host Adelaide United tomorrow evening in the last game before the A-League’s mid-season break. The game will provide Glory an opportunity to avenge the 1-0 loss they suffered at Adelaide’s hands in last month’s Cup Final. A win tomorrow will write Glory into the record books as the first A-League team to win consecutive home games.
Glory defender Dino Djulbic said he was looking forward at playing Adelaide for the first time on home soil. “It’s another big game for us. I’m looking forward to playing in front of a big home crowd, there’s nothing like your fans cheering you on” he said. “I’m excited, the boys are excited and it’s really another must win game for us. We do that and we set ourselves up nicely for the mid-season break.”
MANAGER CONCERNED BY WILLIAMS SETBACK
Middlesbrough coach Aitor Karanka has confirmed Rhys Williams is set for a further lengthy spell on the sidelines after going down with injury in Saturday's FA Cup win at Barnsley. Williams was left devastated after being stretchered off with a repeat of the Achilles injury he first suffered last January against Wigan Athletic. “We don’t know at this stage if it is the same injury but it is certainly similar,” said Karanka. “We will know more after he has been to hospital for a scan. Rhys will have a scan but it's a long-term injury.”
GLORY PUSHING TO IMPROVE FURTHER: LOWE
Coach Kenny Lowe says Perth Glory are determined to get even better as they march towards the Premier's Plate and A-League finals. Friday’s win away at Melbourne Victory confirmed Glory’s position as A-league favourites, pushing the team seven points clear at the top of the ladder. And while that makes pleasant reading, Lowe isn’t about to rest on his laurels. "We ain't Brazil, we ain't Barcelona, but we're quite efficient at what we do," Lowe said. "But we need to get better. I want to get better, it's not just the players. I want to be better, I want to learn."
Lowe has now thrown away the underdogs tag, embracing his position as the team to beat. That enthusiasm has clearly rubbed off on midfielder Rostyn Griffiths, who said Glory’s improved form stems from an improved mindset. "At the beginning of the season we sat down and said 'you know what, with the squad we've got if we don't achieve things this year we'll be kicking ourselves'," he said. "We set high standards, we said there's no excuses away from home. We're a tight unit." Glory’s final game before the A-League goes into a mid-season recess is on Monday when they welcome Adelaide United to Perth Oval.
TOMBIDES SCORES THREE ON DEBUT
A hat-trick on debut from Taylor Tombides was not enough to prevent Canvey Island from losing a thrilling encounter 4-3 against cellar dwellers Bury Town. 18-year old Tombides seemingly had the Gulls on course to take out all three points, but two goals in the final quarter-hour condemned them to defeat. The pick of Tombides haul came on 22 minutes, the teenager picking the ball up near the halfway line to waltz around five opponents before blasting into the net from 20-metres. The loss leaves Canvey in sixteenth position in England’s Isthmian Premier League.
VICTORY FOR GLORY IN GEELONG (courtesy perthglory.com.au)
Perth Glory restated their Hyundai A-League title credentials in convincing fashion on Friday night, holding off fellow challengers Melbourne Victory to win 2-1 in Geelong.
First-half goals from Andy Keogh and Chris Harold sealed an important triumph for Kenny Lowe's men, who survived conceding a penalty after the break to extend their lead to seven points at the top of the table with one round remaining before the break for the AFC Asian Cup. It was just a second defeat of the league season for Victory, who came within inches of equalising when Archie Thompson's header hit the crossbar with 16 minutes remaining. Kevin Muscat's side, missing several key players through injury and international duty, will surely stay firmly in the hunt for silverware despite this setback.
GLORY SUCCESS SPARKS MORE AMBITIOUS GOAL
Perth Glory will no longer be satisfied with achieving a home final with captain Michael Thwaite saying the squad are in the process of re-setting their season goals. The league leaders will get a true gauge of where they sit in the A-League's pecking order when they confront title rivals Melbourne Victory in Geelong tonight. The top-of-the-table clash will be followed by a return bout against Adelaide United at Perth Oval on Monday night before the competition goes into a three-week recess for the Asian Cup.
Thwaite said Glory's impressive start to their campaign - four points clear of second-placed Victory - meant they needed to revisit what they could achieve. "At the start of the year we really wanted to bring a home final back to Perth. I think now we need to re-evaluate our situation because we're top at the moment," Thwaite said. "We'll sit down with the boys once we get back after the break and see where we want to go with this. We want to remain in those top positions. We know the difference between a top four and maybe a top two, what it can give you in the A-League, especially with a Grand Final."
Victory coach Kevin Muscat has branded Glory as the league's best team and deserving title favourites as they prepare to meet for the first time this season. But his Perth counterpart Kenny Lowe queried Muscat's judgment, pointing out their opposition, spearheaded by striker Besart Berisha, were a "super team". "We're not where we are because we've been lucky," Lowe said. "Let's be honest about it. We are where we are because we've performed and to stay where we are we've got to keep performing and to do that we've got to keep getting better."
SAINSBURY EYES KUWAIT OPENER
After missing the World Cup through injury, Trent Sainsbury is desperate to stop another setback from cruelling his Asian Cup hopes. The Dutch-based defender arrived in camp carrying a hamstring tendon injury, and is still a few days away from full fitness - with the Cup opener looming on 9 January. Three contenders - Matthew Spiranovic, Alex Wilkinson and Sainsbury - are fighting for two central defensive positions for that match against Kuwait, giving coach Ange Postecoglou plenty of food for thought.
Sainsbury hopes his injury won't help Postecoglou make his decision. "I haven't done a full sprint but that's going to come in the next couple of days," said the former Armadale junior. "Ange's got in his mind who he wants to play so it's up to him. If the hamstring doesn't get any better in the four or five days then obviously I'm pretty sure I won't play. Wilko and Spira played together at the World Cup which is a bit of boost for both of them. But I feel confident at the moment."
The 22-year old was one of the earliest to bed on New Year's Eve, asleep before 10pm only to wake in fright when the main fireworks show erupted at midnight. One of his two New Year's resolutions is unique across the millions of pledges being made across the country. "Eat healthy and stay away from sprinklers," Sainsbury said. The fear of sprinklers comes from his injury suffered in February 2014 where he fell onto one, fracturing his kneecap and missing seven months of football - and the World Cup.
After enjoying another decent run in the PEC Zwolle side, Sainsbury suffered his latest setback. "I don't have normal injuries. I've never had a normal hamstring injury, this is my tendon,” said the defender, who feels the Asian Cup has arrived at the right time for him, after his physical and mental recovery from the kneecap blow. "It took a while to step back up and I had no confidence whatsoever," he said. "I probably would have been terrible if I came in here around that time ... but now I know I can play at that level, I know I can play at this level."
TOUGH 72 HOURS FOR GLORY
Perth Glory are bracing for a test of their fitness as they combat their two main title rivals in the space of 72 hours. The A-League leaders will confront Melbourne Victory for the first time this season on Friday before returning to home to host their FFA Cup vanquishers Adelaide United on Monday. Striker Andy Keogh says the brutal schedule is a major test of the squad's discipline, with the crunch games coming immediately before a three-week, mid-season break that will provide welcome respite for the players.
Glory are four points clear on top of the A-League table, but staying there will hinge on the double-header given that their opponents sit second and third. "It's a tough schedule for us," Keogh said. "We've got Victory on Friday and then we've got Adelaide on Monday. It's a quick turnaround. If anything it will show us how fit and disciplined our squad is … it's a big weekend. We'd like to open up a bit more of a gap and put some good performances in."
TOMBIDES SET FOR FINISHING ROLE
Manager Danny Heale has backed on-loan West Ham United attacker Taylor Tombides to form a strong partnership with Enoch Showunmi and fire Canvey Island up the league. Tombides, 18, will make his Gulls debut when they host bottom-of-the-table Bury Town today, and Heale says the prospect of the Australian youth international and the Nigerian powerhouse up-front is exciting. “We look a lot sharper now we have Enoch in the team and I think he will link up well with Taylor,” he said. “He is a raw talent but clearly a good footballer. It is clear that we are a bit goal shy at the moment but he looks sharp in training and I believe he will be a hit here.”
Canvey are languishing in the bottom half of the Isthmian Premier League following a miserable run in which they have won only two of their last eight matches. But Heale is confident the team will turn around their form in the coming weeks. “We badly need to get three points on the board,” said Heale. “We have some very winnable matches coming up and that starts with Bury. Although there are no easy matches at this level, you look at the table and you have to target this game as one that we need to win. If we can get a couple of wins under our belts we will pick up confidence and I am sure things will become a lot easier for us.”
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This page was last updated on the 19th December, 2014