SOCCEROOS HIT BY TAGGART INJURY BLOW
Socceroo Adam Taggart will miss next month’s crucial World Cup qualifiers against Saudi Arabia and China after suffering a knee injury which could sideline him for up to five weeks. The striker, who has led the line for Australia in recent internationals, scored but then went off hurt 15 minutes from time in Cerezo Osaka’s 3-0 midweek Emperor's Cup win over Nagoya Grampus.
Taggart’s absence throws a curve ball to coach Graham Arnold whose two home-based attacking options - Jamie Maclaren and Mathew Leckie - are still in pre-season training with Melbourne City. The injury might pave the way for a recall for Nikita Rukavytsya, the 34-year old Israel-based hitman having scored once in five appearances for new club Hapoel Be’er Sheva.
With six goals in 15 caps for Australia, Taggart’s strike against Nagoya was his second in 15 appearances in all competitions for Cerezo in what has been a stop-start beginning to life in the J1 League after his switch from South Korea’s Suwon Bluewings. Taggart last month attracted plaudits from Socceroos coach Graham Arnold for his general build up play, despite his last Socceroos goal coming in the 1-0 World Cup win against Jordan in November 2019.
FORNAROLI RELISHING STURRIDE PARTNERSHIP
Perth Glory forward Bruno Fornaroli has a spring in his step knowing he'll soon be lining up alongside marquee signing Daniel Sturridge. The 34-year-old Uruguayan knows what Sturridge can bring to the table this season having seen what he achieved alongside Luis Suarez at Liverpool in the 2013-14 Premier League campaign. During that season the attacking duo scored 49 goals between them as they became one of the competition's greatest ever combos in the league.
As a good friend of Suarez's, Fornaroli was watching that blossoming partnership closely and is hoping he can replicate something similar with Sturridge at Glory this season, and he told Sporting News he’s looking forward to it. “I'm very excited. I can't wait to see Daniel here and start training with him," Fornaroli said. “I hope we can create a good combo alongside Andy (Keogh), score a lot of goals and win the league - that's what we're training for.
“Daniel can give us the quality that we need and he's a big name, big player and I can't wait to play alongside him. Once we start training together, we can see how best we can work together. I watched him closely at Liverpool because I'm a close friend to Suarez and their form together was great to see. I hope we can do something similar at Perth. I will ask Suarez about him. But you can see the videos, you can their goals, you can see what they did together. Everyone knows his quality and I hope he can stay fit because if he can have a great season, the team will have one too."
While Glory will kick off the new A-League Men's season at HBF Park on November 20 against Adelaide United, the club face an extended period away from home after that, due to Western Australia's current tight border restrictions. And Richard Garcia's side have been scheduled to play five of their first six league fixtures away from home. After previously playing in hubs, Fornaroli isn't looking forward to another long period away from his family and is hopeful the club can play more matches in Perth soon. "It's tough because the last couple of years we've played that way. We are in a city with no cases but we have to go away," Fornaroli explained.
"And the question now is, once we leave Western Australia, what happens next? Are we allowed to come back? Do we have to quarantine at home or in a hotel? It's tough saying good-bye for at least a month and not being able to see your family. I hope we can recover those home games because we're making the sacrifice to play one month away. At the end of the day, it's not fair. When we were in Sydney we were stuck in our hotel, while teams from Sydney were outside. We can do our job anywhere. We can play home or away but we want to play here because at home it is different."
After arriving in Australia with Melbourne City in 2015, Fornaroli has found a second home in the west. Following four seasons in Victoria, the Uruguayan settled quickly in Western Australia and has no plans of leaving the country any time soon with the 34-year-old ready to play on for some time yet. "It was tough to leave Melbourne City because I had a great time but as soon as we arrived in Perth we felt at home," he said.
"My family is so happy here and that makes me more relaxed knowing they're well and happy. The kids love it here, they already speaking the language better than me! So, at the moment the idea is to stay here in Australia but you never know because football changes a lot. After this pre-season, I am so comfortable. I think I have petrol in my tank for a couple more years."
EPAKIS SET FOR EXCITING NEW SEASON (Courtesy of the Inner Sanctum)
Perth Glory Womens Head Coach Alex Epakis sat down and spoke to The Inner Sanctum ahead of his second season in charge of the club. There was no time to waste, there never is in the hectic time between seasons when every club is looking to recruit. Acting quickly and with decisive planning, Alex Epakis embarked on a swift recruiting mission. He travelled the country to find the right players to build on his first season as Perth Glory’s coach. Glory finished ninth for 2020/2021.
They were faced with unprecedented difficulties from the beginning imposed by the pandemic, quarantines, and border restrictions. Despite facing an uphill battle for most of the season, the young team with a new coach played with confidence and attacking intent. From this, hope emerged from impressive performances. Young players like Tijan McKenna and Hana Lowry established themselves as regular starters and exciting talents, but going into the new season changes were needed. As his first season in charge ended, Epakis showed no rest or hesitation in assembling a team of returning players and bright new talents for the upcoming campaign.
“Last season was difficult for a number of reasons,” he said. “I came quite late into pre-season and the preparation and recruitment had largely already been done. I knew that when I came in last year, I wanted to do my best in the current moment but also proactively create a plan for the medium and long term.” The first three signings were returning players, captain Natasha Rigby, Mckenna, and Lowry. Then Epakis began to travel the country on his recruitment drive.
“If I’m being really honest by the time season finished last year, right after the last game I had a plan ready that I wanted to act. I had a player shortlist that I had researched. Then it was about doing the player character due diligence to make sure those players were the right players. Not so much from a football point of view but from a personality, mentality, and character point of view.”
The player’s off-field attributes are valued as highly as what the players can do with the ball by Epakis. There are many talented players in the country, but Perth was looking for the right individuals for the club. “A lot of research goes into that aspect,” he said of the player’s personalities. “You want to do your homework to make sure that you are recruiting in good people, with a strong growth mindset and who can add value to a team environment.
“I knew that from a football point of view they could deliver what I wanted because I’d watched hours and hours, I’d scouted them live and I’d gone to training sessions. Every player we signed I know has the ability to fit the way I want the team to play, but it’s the soft stuff that you don’t always know which is the character and mentality. Once I did the character references and I knew they were the right players on and off the field, I would then make contact with the players.”
Perth has so far signed 10 new players from last season to join those returning to the squad. It might have looked like a flurry of activity but it was a careful, considered process by the club and coach. Among those are experienced players and the brightest young talents “I won’t reach out to a player unless I’ve done all the homework and I’m comfortable that I want them to be part of the squad and I believe that they can add to the team,” Epakis explained. “I created a player profile built on analysis and metrics. The end of the process is me actually making contact with the player and sharing the vision of the club and project we are hoping to build.”
The mission took Epakis across the country to monitor potential players. He travelled between Melbourne and Sydney, fitting in returns to Perth. The speed in which the club sprang into action proved fortuitous in more ways than one. Epakis was able to watch the majority of the players and meet with them in person in the months before borders slammed shut again. He believed that Perth Glory was supportive of the endeavour from the beginning. “I’ve got a fantastic working relationship with the hierarchy at the club," he said. “They were really happy for me to take the lead and build the best environment possible, get the best staff and players in possible to do what we can to have a more successful season.”
Glory’s season was defined by difficulty. They had long periods of postponed matches, and they faced in-form, match fit teams in the closing rounds. But Epakis used the opportunity to plan for the future. Many of the players have been signed to fill gaps in the squad or enhance what already worked. All good football managers are looking to improve constantly and this season’s squad ambition began early. “I’m quite fortunate that I’ve spent a few years in women’s football. So, I had a pretty good understanding of the players that are around and the players that are coming through,” he said.
“Tijan and Hannah they really stood out. For me it was all about, picking the right players at that moment and both of those players, as did others like Isabella Wallhead and Debora De La Harpe showed they were ready for it and playing at that level.” In addition to some of the best young players in the country, Perth has added experience to key areas of the pitch. Kim Carroll will help sure up the defence and Courtney Newbon will take over the goalkeeping duties while Gemma Craine has also returned. Another is Susan Phonsongkham. The former Western Sydney Wanderers striker missed the last season with injury and is a player Epakis is excited to sign after having coached against her in the NPLW.
“I’ve been on the receiving end of some of her performances and I know exactly what she can do,” he said of the Young Matilda. “I’m just really fortunate that she believes we are the best environment for her at this point in her career to try and get back playing consistent football again at this level. I’m a really big admirer of what she can do on the field and she’s an absolute professional off the field. She can really light up a team and light up a game, and we just want to do our absolute best to help her get to that level and play a big part in what we want to achieve this season. It’s important to create a safe and supportive environment for her so she feels confident in what she’s doing.”
One of the features that stands out about Perth’s recruitment is that numerous players have been signed to multi-year deals. It is still a rarity in a competition that see’s the majority of players, even big stars on single-season contracts. Epakis sees an opportunity to secure the future and impact the present. “It wasn’t a hard and fast rule that every player we signed had to be multi [year deal],” he said. “I really wanted to create a level of consistency and stability for the club and build a good core group of players. “You can only really do that when there is that stability in the background of a longer-term commitment, so for me it always made sense. It just gives us a really good foundation that we know we can rely on and they can rely on us for the next few years.”
Perth fans should not be worried that success is a distant prospect. The players they have recruited have the talent to make an immediate impact on the league this season. “We’re going to have some really proud performances,” the manager said of his expectations. “We’re going to have a team that allows us to be really forward in our approach. We don’t want to take a reactive approach in the way we play. We just want to think about attacking the opposition and the match.” It might be mission accomplished on the recruitment front but the real work is just about to begin. For the players who have joined and the ones who have remained there is a job to do. Glory’s fans have every reason to be excited.
O'NEILL AND RIGBY NAMED CAPTAINS FOR UPCOMING SEASON
Perth Glory today announced that Brandon O’Neill and Natasha Rigby will captain its respective Isuzu Ute A-League Men’s and A-League Women’s teams for the 2021/22 Season. The announcement was made at the clubs’ season launch/Glory In Business Luncheon at Crown Perth. Midfielder O’Neill will wear the Glory armband for the first time having returned for a second spell at his hometown club during the off-season, while fellow-West Australian Rigby will lead the club’s women into a new campaign for a third time.
Both players are understandably thrilled to have been handed the captaincy role. “Being a Perth boy and being able to represent your hometown club is a very special feeling, but being named captain on top is something that I’m extremely honoured by,” O’Neill said. “This role doesn’t define me as a person or a player. We have some amazing leaders at this football club, people that I’m learning from every day.
“But I think it’s important for me to try and help people become the best versions of themselves and to allow all the lads to be vulnerable enough to say “this is me and I’m ready to have a crack. If we have an environment where people feel safe to be themselves, then I feel that us as a group will only benefit on the pitch. I honestly can’t wait to see where this group of individuals can go and I’m excited to be a part of the journey.”
Rigby is looking to continue her role and said they are working hard to improve this season. “It’s an absolute honour to captain this team and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to do it again this year,” she said. “We have an incredibly exciting squad lined up this season and [Head Coach] Alex Epakis and the club have been working so hard to ensure we are set to succeed in our upcoming campaign. We are building a specific environment where players feel safe to be themselves and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead. We have a lot to prove this year and the players have certainly started pre-season with a bang.”
Glory Head Coaches Richard Garcia and Alex Epakis, meanwhile, were quick to outline the qualities which O’Neill and Rigby will bring to the captaincy role. “Brandon is a proud Perth boy who understands exactly what the DNA of this club is all about and how much it means to our members and fans,” Garcia said. “He will lead by example and play a key role in helping drive home the philosophy we want to instil into the playing group. I know he is deeply honoured to be named Glory skipper and will do himself, his family and the club proud.”
“Tash is a standout person and leader, her energy is infectious and she has a deep desire to win whilst always leading by example,” Epakis said. “I know she deeply values her leadership role and position within the team and each day she represents the club and our values with the highest of standards. Tash is a great character and the perfect person to drive the team into what is shaping up to be a very exciting season for us. I look forward to working closely with her this year."
Glory CEO Tony Pignata is similarly confident that the two skippers will help propel the club to success in the 2021/22 campaign. “Brandon and Natasha are both superb ambassadors for Perth Glory on and off the field and will do a fantastic job of leading their respective teams this season,” he said. “As players and as people, they truly reflect the core values of the club and I know our members and fans will be thrilled to see them wearing the armband this year. We are really looking forward to watching them lead from the front in what we are confident will be a successful season for both our A-League Men and Women.”
MATILDAS' WILLIAMS RUES ERROR AFTER DRAW
Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams has been left to rue a crucial error after Brazil reeled in a two goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Australia in Sydney. Brazil fought their way back in Parramatta after goals from Clare Polkinghorne and Sam Kerr had given the home side a lead on Tuesday night.
The first came when Erika headed home unmarked at a corner and the second was a result of confusion in the Australian goal mouth. Tamires' intended cross fizzled towards the Australian goal, with Williams backtracking. Williams was only able to parry it onto the bar as she fell into the goal mouth, leaving Debinha the simplest of finishes to draw Brazil level from close range.
"I was set up for a cross and obviously it came off the boot and it was going into the top corner," Katanning-born Williams said. "It turned into a save and I guess that's how it went. We'll look at the footage and stuff, but as a goalkeeper, you kind of roll with the punches I guess."
The result ensures Australia are still waiting for consecutive wins under coach Tony Gustavsson. But despite being unable to string together wins under the Swede, Williams claimed the fact Australia were able to repel Brazil for the first 60 minutes and score twice was evidence of their growth.
"It's still a fairly new squad and we are building towards the Asian Cup," she said. "I think the first half solidified where we were and they're a great team and they'll go out and perform well. It's disappointing (to draw). From where we were it's a big step leading into January. It's a good test for us and an indication on what we need to improve on out there."
ITALIANO STUNNER GIVES 23S THE UPPER HAND IN AFC ASIAN CUP QUALIFIER
A stunning strike from former Perth Glory midfielder Jacob Italiano has given Australia the upper hand in Tuesday’s AFC U23 Asian Cup qualification game against Indonesia, helping the green and gold to a 3-2 win in the first leg at the Central Republican Stadium in Tajikistan. Skipper Marc Tokich opened the scoring just after the break, before Patrick Wood added a second moments later. However, Indonesia hit back with Witan Sulaeman pulling one back before Italiano’s stunner. Indonesia added a second late through Taufik Hidayat, but it’s Trevor Morgan’s side that hold the advantage going into the second leg on Friday, at the same venue.
Morgan, who is coaching Australia’s U23s on an interim basis, said that he felt that his side deserved the win, but challenged them to improve at both ends of the pitch ahead of Friday. “The effort level and the commitment of the players this evening was fantastic, and that has been a constant throughout the whole camp – these kids really want to play for their country, and we need to provide them more opportunities to do so,” Morgan said.
“The post-match data showed that we could have won the match more comfortably, but we have already challenged the group to focus on Friday’s match and demonstrate improvement at both ends of the pitch. From an attacking perspective we believe we can be more clinical, while from a defensive viewpoint we know that we can be more compact. These are two of the elements that we will focus on ahead of Friday’s fixture.
“This result was a good reward for the effort of the players and staff over the past two weeks where we’ve trained and played in Dubai and Dushanbe. It sets us up for the second match where our target will be to secure qualification for Uzbekistan 2022, and I have full trust in our support staff to have our boys physically ready for another match in less than 72 hours’ time.”
It was Australia who enjoyed the better of the chances in the first 45, with Wood having a fifth-minute penalty saved by Indonesia keeper Ernando Ari Sutaryadi, before Lachlan Brook and Adisu Bayew both went close, but it was all-square at the break. However, it was in the second half of the match that the game really sprung to life, with some fantastic individual and team goals highlighting an open and entertaining contest.
Just eight minutes in Australia opened the scoring. Brook’s teasing free kick into the penalty area was headed home by Tokich. They doubled its advantage just before the hour mark when Wood put the finishing touch on a neat move through midfield involving Fabian Monge, Brook, and second half substitute Alessandro Lopane. But eight minutes later Indonesia reduced the deficit when Sulaeman sent a scorching strike from outside the area beyond Nicholas Suman.
But the concerns were forgotten on 77 minutes when the former Glory youngster put his entry in for goal of the game. Italiano wriggled free of two defenders before unleashing a fierce drive from the edge of the area that clattered in off the far post. The game is still on a knife edge after pulled one back with seven minutes remaining, substitute Taufik Hidayat poking home from close-range to round out the scoring.
Australia had originally been scheduled to play Indonesia, as well as China PR and Brunei Darussalam in Group G of Asian Qualifying for the AFC U23 Asian Cup 2022, however after the latter two nations withdrew from qualifying the Group B match schedule was reconfigured. As a result, the winner over this week’s two fixtures will advance to the AFC U23 Asian Cup 2022, which will be played in Uzbekistan between June 1 and 19, 2022. Australia and Indonesia will meet again on Friday, 29 October 2021. Kick-off is at 5pm local time (11pm AEDT).
Indonesia 23s: GK ERNANDO ARI SUTARYADI, 4 RIZKY RIDHO RAMADHANI, 8 WITAN SULAEMAN, 10 RAMAI MELVIN RUMAKIEK, 11 PRATAMA ARHAN ALIF RIFAI, 13 RACHMAT IRIANTO, 14 ASNAWI MANGKUALAM BAHAR, 15 ALFEANDRA DEWANGGA SANTOSA, 19 HANIS SAGHARA PUTRA, 20 AMIRUDDIN BAGUS KAHFI ALFIKRI, 21 GUNANSAR PAPUA MANDOWEN – Subs: RGK MUCHAMAD AQIL SAVIK, 2 BAYU MOHAMAD FIQRI, 3 KOMANG TRI ARTA WIGUNA, 5 KOMANG TEGUH TRISNANDA, 6 SUBHAN FAJRI, 7 MARSELINO FERDINAN, 9 TAUFIK HIDAYAT, 12 RONALDO JOYBERA R JUNIOR, 16 IRSAN RAHMAN LESTALUHU, 17 EKA FEBRI YOGI SETIAWAN, 18 MOHAMMAD KANU HELMIAWAN
Australia U23: GK Nicholas SUMAN 3 Jordan COURTNEY-PERKINS, 4 Mark TOKICH, 5 Jordan BOS, 6 Fabian MONGE (21 Patrick YAZBEK 72’), 7 Lachlan BROOK (20 Luka PRSO 72’), 8 Luke DUZEL, 9 Patrick WOOD, 10 Jacob ITALIANO, 11 Adisu BAYEW (17 Alessandro LOPANE 52’), 13 Lewis MILLER (2 Callum TALBOT 86’) - Subs not used: RGK Kai CALDERBANK-PARK, RGK Adam PAVLESIC, 14 Lucas MAURAGIS, 15 Taras GORMULKA, 16 Aydan HAMMOND, 19 Thymos CAROUTAS, 22 Zaydan BELLO, 23 Matthew SCARCELLA - Referee: Kim Woosung (Korea Republic)
MATILDAS LET IT SLIP AGAINST BRAZIL
The Matildas have let a two-goal lead slip to draw 2-2 with Brazil in the second friendly international at the CommBank Stadium in Parramatta. Fresh off a 3-1 win against the South Americans on Saturday, goals from Clair Polkinghorne and Sam Kerr had given Tony Gustavsson’s side a 2-0 lead, but two goals in seven minutes Erika and Debinha cancelled their lead, in what was yet another pulsating contest between these great rivals.
“It was a battle for 90 minutes and we were expecting it...we knew they’d come out swinging and they did that. We did really well to get in the lead. First half we lacked a bit of energy and confidence but we turned it around in the second half,” Polkinghorne said. “Sometimes you have to show a bit of character and grind the game out and we did that tonight. I must love playing at home. I don’t remember too much of it (her goal), I’m just happy I could help the team out.”
With the inclusion of the experienced Marta and Debinha among others, Brazil started more brightly of the two sides creating a number of good chances, however, it was the Matildas who had the best early chances. Caitlin Foord firing over the top on seven minutes, before the Arsenal striker was denied by Leticia moments later. But on ten minutes, just like Saturday, it was Polkinghorne who opened the scoring, the defender firing home from close range from Kyra Cooney-Cross, this after Brazil failed to clear a corner.
The visitors continued to ask questions of the Australian defence and the woodwork came to their rescue on 20 minutes with Adriana’s shot crashing off the post, while Lydia Williams denied Kerolin. The Matildas defence continued to be pushed and probed by the Brazilians with the pressure mounting, but they could not find the back of the net, and the Matildas went into the halftime break ahead.
The introduction of Kyah Simon and Clare Wheeler at half time saw an injection of fresh legs, and both players got a touch in the build-up to the Matildas second goal. Passes between Wheeler, Step Catley and Mary Fowler in the defensive saw the latter unleash Ellie Carpenter down the wing, a one-two with Simon saw the ball end up at the edge of the box before Carpenter played through Kerr, whose shot on the turn found the bottom corner of the net, for her 49th goal for her country.
But Brazil was not done attacking and came hard at the Australian defence. They finally found their goal through centre-back Erika. The tall defender was able to head home unchallenged off a set piece on 64 minutes, and it was game on. Then seven minutes later they levelled, this time Debinha was on the end of it. The initial cross-shot forced Williams into a low save, but Debinha flew through the air to head home the follow-up via the post. Both teams were desperate to grab a winner, urged on by their respective fans. While it was a friendly in name, the tension was palpable. While both sides mustered a few chances, including Marta coming close with the final kick of the game, 2-2 was the final scoreline.
“It’s a different team. Brazil came out as a different team with a stronger line-up ... this was a proper quality football game. The beginning of the game we played really well but then Brazil dominated the last 30 minutes of the first half and took us a tactical talk and to gather ourselves in the locker room at half-time,” Coach Tony Gustavsson said.
“The first 15 minutes [of the second half] was phenomenal from our side, what a response from our players to step up and take the game over. Honestly, we can talk about tactic but at the end of the day, it’s tempo. Some of these players need to learn to play quicker ... as you saw, we kept playing out. Even though we lost the ball, we kept playing out because we need to train and be better at it and deal with that high press. But we played too slow in parts today.”
Matildas: GK Lydia Williams, 4 Clare Polkinghorne (3 Courtney Nevin 83’), 7 Steph Catley (2 Angela Beard 82’), 9 Caitlin Foord (22 Bryleeh Henry 82’), 10 Emily van Egmond, 11 Mary Fowler, 13 Tameka Yallop (6 Clare Wheeler 46’), 14 Alanna Kennedy, 19 Kyra Cooney-Cross (17 Kyah Simon 46’), 20 Sam Kerr, 21 Ellie Carpenter
Subs not used: RGK Jada Mathyssen-Whyman, 5 Karly Roestbakken, 8 Charlotte Grant, 15 Jamilla Rankin, 16 Remy Siemsen, 23 Emma Checker Brazil: GK Letícia, 3 Érika, 4 Antônia, 6 Tamires, 8 Angelina, 9 Debinha (23 Geyse 88’), 10 Marta, 11 Adriana (13 Thaís 88’), 15 Tainara, 20 Duda (5 Julia Bianchi 67’), 21 Kerolin – Subs not used: RGK Kaka, RGK Lorena Silva, 2 Bruninha, 7 Andressa Alves, 14 Giovana Queiroz, 16 Ana Vitoria, 17 Ary Borges, 18 Katrine, 19 Ludmila - Referee: Desiree Grundbacher
SMITH TAKES OUT BAYSWATER CITY’S F&B
Scotsman Gordon smith swept the board at the Bayswater City Annual Ball at the Double Tree by Perth Hilton Waterfront on October 9. The former Hearts striker took out the Fairest and Best, Players Player of the Year and the top goalscorer, scoring ten goals this season. Smith said he was pleased to win the awards, but is hoping they can challenge next season for honours.
“Delighted to pick up all three awards on the night, it’s been a strong season personally for myself and I am just looking to carry it on to next season and hopefully help the team to challenge up the top end,” he said. “I think we have been up and down this season. More consistency is needed for next with a few of the youngest players gaining more experience and us adding two or three I think we will be a lot stronger and more prepared to challenge at the top.”
Bayswater President Oriano Colli said Smith was a worthy winner after a great season, and he made it back-to-back on the clubs F&B. “Gordon went back-to-back winning our prestigious Rocco D’Orazio medal for the Fairest and best player in 2021 having won it last year also,” he explained. “Gordon has had an outstanding season for the club which reflected in Gordon also placing third in the Football West Gold Medal count. As a club Gordon is a great role model for our younger players and a leader on and off the pitch.”
In other awards on the night, Jerome West won the 18s Fairest and Best, Corey McNelis won the Players Player Award, while Will Gallagher won the Golden Boot, scoring 20 goals. Igor Cvijanovic won the 20s Fairest and Best, Dean Kezurer won the Players Player Award, with Daniel Harrison bagging 11 goals to win the Gold Boot. In the over 45s Alun Vernals won the Fairest and Best, ahead of Trevor Hatton, with Vas Kalogeracos winning the Players Player Award and top goalscorer with 23 goals.
MATILDAS RETURN HOME WITH A BANG
The Commonwealth Bank Matildas marked their long-awaited homecoming with one of their best performances under coach Tony Gustavsson, beating Brazil 3-1 at the CommBank Stadium in Parramatta on Saturday night. Goals from Clare Polkinghorne, Mary Fowler and Emily van Egmond helped Australia return to winning ways after a shock loss to Ireland. So too did the crowd of 15,270, who turned up for Sydney’s first major football event since the COVID-19 outbreak that forced the city into lockdown four months ago.
Head Coach Tony Gustavsson was delighted with the performance and it capped off his first game on Australia soil in style. “I’m actually very impressed. The professionalism of this team was really shown tonight,” Gustavsson said. “But I also want to add one thing to that: I think we got tremendous help from the support in the stands to really carry them forward. Those first 20 minutes, the energy, the enthusiasm, the tempo - we should have been 2-0 up.
“That shows a little bit what we want to be about in terms of the aggressive pressing, the high tempo, get a lot of numbers in attack and play kind of free from fear, so to speak. To be able to do that in these circumstances was impressive ... but we need to remember we are playing a Brazil team that is rebuilding right now. I think we need to balance this performance a little bit. Are there some impressive things in there, some things I’m happy with, Yes, but we need to stay humble now and realise we still have a lot of work to do.”
The Matildas started the brightest, and Tameka Yallop had a golden opportunity to open the scoring after the ball broke kindly for her but Brazilian ‘keeper Leticia stood tall and heroically denied Yallop, copping a knee to face in the process. The hosts attacked ferociously with the ball pinging around the box off an Australian corner but to no avail. Australia looked fast and fluid, finding joy down both flanks.
Brazil’s few forays forward were dealt with, with Lydia Williams calmly claiming all shots on goal. But after dominating for large periods of the half it was Australia who broke the deadlock minutes before the break through Polkinghorne. Steph Catley’s free kick in into the box found the head of Sam Kerr, and the Chelsea striker headed back across goal and Polkinghorne made no mistake.
Brazil made a number of changes at the break and were on the front foot, and despite not having to do much work in the first half, Lydia Williams was still sharp as ever, making an early save in the second half to keep the South Americans out. The visitors looked strong as they searched for the equaliser, but the Matildas’ defence stood strong. But just after the hour it was Australia who doubled their lead. Half time substitute Emily Van Egmond cross was mis-judged by the Brazilian defence and Fowler headed home much to the delight of the fans and her teammates.
But Brazil hit back and reduced the margin on 68 minutes, Adriana capitalizing on a mistake from Kennedy, and fired low past Williams. The introduction of Marta and Debinha gave the visitors more threat as they looked for the equaliser, but ten minutes from time it was the Matilidas who put the result beyond doubt with a beautiful team goal. Fowler and Kerr combined in the build-up with Kerr eventually releasing Catley who pushed forward and crossed from the line for van Egmond to fire home and secure the win.
Matildas: GK Lydia Williams, 4 Clare Polkinghorne, 7 Steph Catley, 9 Caitlin Foord (6 Clare Wheeler 77’), 11 Mary Fowler (22 Bryleeh Henry 90’), 13 Tameka Yallop (16 Remy Siemsen 90’), 14 Alanna Kennedy, 17 Kyah Simon (10 Emily van Egmond 46’), 19 Kyra Cooney-Cross (8 Charlotte Grant 87’), 20 Sam Kerr, 21 Ellie Carpenter – Subs not used: RGK Mackenzie Arnold, RGK Teagan Micah, 2 Angela Beard, 3 Courtney Nevin, 5 Karly Roestbakken, 15 Jamilla Rankin, 23 Emma Checker
Brazil: GK Letícia, 2 Bruninha, 3 Érika (15 Tainara 46’), 4 Antônia, 6 Tamires (18 Katrine 46’), 7 Andressa Alves, 14 Giovana Queiroz (11 Adriana 46’), 16 Ana Vitoria (9 Debinha 71’), 17 Ary Borges, 19 Ludmila (23 Geyse 46’), 21 Kerolin (10 Marta 70’) – Subs not used: RGK Kaka, RGK Lorena Silva, 5 Julia Bianchi, 8 Angelina, 13 Thaís, 20 Duda - Referee: Esther Staubli
STONEHILL AND WHITNEY WIN THE 2021 GOLD MEDAL
The NPLWA Gold Medal night was held last week at The Westin Perth, and it was Murdoch University Melville’s Tia Stonehill and Perth SC’s Calvin Whitney who took out the major award. The pair received their awards from Minister for Transport, Planning and Ports, the Honourable Rita Saffioti MLA, who joined Football West Chairman Sherif Andrawes on stage to present the awards.
Whitney helped Perth SC to the title and he said he was honoured to win the award, and capped off a great season for him. “I thought I had one of my better seasons and to top it off with the gold medal, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” the midfielder explained. “It was a great season from the boys, but I thought it was getting away from us at the half way mark but slowly started to catch up and took out the league. I haven’t won a league before so I can tick that off the list, and for Ramon (Falzon) to win the double and Coach of the Year, there is no better send off for him.”
Whitney, who was a member of the Gold Fields WA State Team that beat Perth Glory, said the 1-0 win capped off a great season for him. “It was very enjoyable and to win was even better,” he said. “I was very surprised how well we played after only a couple of training sessions together, but there were some quality players in the team which made it easier - all in all my favourite footballing year to date.”
The Gold Medal capped off a fantastic season for Stonehill, who has been a key part of MUM FC’s treble-winning season of NPLWA – Women’s title, State Cup and Top Four Cup. She also shared the Golden Boot with Northern Redbacks striker Larissa Walsh, but she said it was a huge surprise for her, and she also spoke on the night of her ball date with Whitney when they were in high school. “Very overwhelmed right now … I did not expect this. We’ve had an amazing season,” she said. “Also, a big shout-out to my boy Calvin … we’ve been best friends since we were like 11 … I’m blessed to share a stage with him.” Whitney replied: “We were actually ball dates as well at school …” to which the besuited Stonehill chipped in: “First and only time I’ve worn a dress!”
Football West Chief Football Officer Jamie Harnwell was quick to praise the pair and a great season. “Congratulations to Tia and Calvin, they are deserving winners and have enjoyed terrific seasons,” he said. “They also both play the game the right way, competitive with a lot of flair but also with a smile on their faces.” In other awards on the night Inglewood United’s Steve Sokol won the Men’s Golden Boot, NPLWA – Men’s Goal of the Season went to Ndumba Makeche of Bayswater City, while Monique Prinsloo of Hyundai NTC took the NPLWA – Women’s Goal of the Season.
Full list of awards: Life Members: HANS MEYER and RICHARD KREIDER, David Cantoni Disabilities in Football Achievement: CHRIS BARTY, David Schrandt Administrator and Volunteer of the Year: RADMILA POPOVIC (Port Kennedy) - Golden Boots - Men’s U18: PHOENIX LEE (Sorrento), Men’s U20: DAVID ZIVKOVIC (Perth SC), Women’s U23: JAZZMYN BLANKENDAAL (MUM FC) and SIENA CREVACORE (Northern Redbacks), Women’s first team: TIA STONEHILL (MUM FC) and LARISSA WALSH (Northern Redbacks) - Young Players of the Year Dylan Tombides Male Young Player of the Year: ADAM ZIMARINO (Perth Glory), Female Young Player of the Year: ZOEE SPADANO (Perth SC)
Coaches of the Year - Ron Tindall Male Coach of the Year: RAMON FALZON (Perth SC), Female Coach of the Year: DANIELLE BROGAN (Perth SC) - Goalkeepers of the Year - Men’s: RYAN MONTGOMERY (Perth SC) and JASON SALDARIS (Floreat Athena), Women’s: MARISSA PIDGEON (Subiaco) - Players of the Year - Men’s Under 18 Troy Bernard Player of the Year: PHOENIX LEE (Sorrento), Men’s U20: DAVID ZIVKOVIC (Perth SC), Women’s U23: NIKITA STRICKLING (Curtin University) - Fair Play Awards - Men's: PERTH SC, Women's: CURTIN UNIVERSITY
HARGREAVES TAKES OUT GWELUP’S F&B
Gwelup Croatia officially ended their 2021 season on Saturday evening as the club held their awards night at the Croatian Sporting Complex. The Wishart Street club were only formed in 1988, and last season saw them play their second season in WA top flight football, and things didn’t go quite to plan, and they finished a disappointing tenth place on the NPLWA table. But one player stood out for the northern suburbs club, and Declan Hargreaves’ outstanding season was rewarded, with him winning the clubs Fairest and Best Award.
The midfielder edged out skipper Blair Govan to the top award and said he was delighted to receive the trophy. “I’m delighted to have received the clubs Fairest and Best trophy, and I’m very proud to have won it especially with the quality of players we have at our football club,” he explained. “Unfortunately, the season wasn’t what the players, and the club were looking for, but we will look to hit back next season.”
Gwelup’s Football Operations Manager, Dejan Vilic said the midfielder was a worthy winner of the award. “Declan has had an outstanding season for us and has probably been our most consistent player since he signed for Gwelup from Bayswater last year,” he said. “Standing up in midfield in what was a very difficult season for the club really shows the measure of a man and what a solid player he is. The award is the least he deserves.”
Youngster Oli La Galia won the Young Player Award, while Sam Mitchinson won the Coach’s Award, and Vilic said the pair were excellent. “Oli has come on in leaps and bounds and if it wasn’t for an unfortunate ankle injury, definitely would have seen more first-team minutes towards the end of 2021. He even chipped in with his first ever NPL First Team goal away to Rockingham which was great for the young man’s confidence,” he explained. “Sammy received the coach’s award as he was a mentor to our younger guys and was always there when they needed him. His experience really helped some of our Under 20s along, which was great to see.”
In other awards on the night, Jon Stynes won the first team top goal scorer, bagging ten goals. Dejan Lewis won the Best and Fairest Award in the 20s, beating Freeman Nyatsambo to the top award. Lewis also won the Players’ Player of the Year, while Nyatsambo won the top goalscorer with eight goals. In the 18s Kieran Ross won the Fairest and Best, with Dylan Fernandes Lewis runner up. Lewis also won the top goalscorer, with 11 goals, while Edward Wilcock won the Coach’s award.
GRANT STORMS INTO THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL
Alex Grant will play in next month's Asian Champions League final after his late goal helped Pohang Steelers edge dramatically past local rivals Ulsan Hyundai in the semi-final. The defenders pivotal 89th minute header forced the match into extra-time on Wednesday, with his goal levelling it up at 1-1 at the Jeonju Stadium. The semi-final was eventually decided by penalties with Pohang emerging victorious.
Grant will become one of only a select group of Australisn to have played in an Asian Champions League decider. It is a rich reward for the 27-year old who left Perth Glory in December to join the Steelers. "I'm enjoying it (but) it's been tough, it's been an eye-opener," said Grant, who has been challenged by injury and Pohang's inconsistent K League 1 form. "It's been a different experience, different to what I've been used to."
"Playing in Australia and playing in the UK, a lot more things are let go. The physicality is different for sure. Players seem to go down a lot more easily here so you just have to be a bit more careful and wary. The standard of football is decent. The Korean players are very technically very good. It's a league where it feels like anyone on their day can turn up and win, whether it's the bottom team against the top. It's a really open league."
"The lifestyle in Korea has definitely been challenging, in many respects, and getting injured at the start probably didn’t help. Straight into my debut I picked up a knock on my foot and the prognosis didn't seem too bad at the start. But after a couple of months you're thinking why is this taking so long, and eventually I got back for the Champions League in June. And since I've gotten back I think I've been playing well to be fair, scoring a couple of goals."
Grant has managed only 13 appearances in the K League 1 this season because of an ankle complaint. But in the Asian Champions League the defender has played eight times, including in the quarter-final win over Nagoya Grampus. "To be fair we had a really tough group in the Champions League," Grant said. "The Aussie teams pulling out made it easier for some of the bigger clubs in the other groups."
"We had Johor, Nagoya and Ratchaburi FC, and they were no mugs. We did well to get through the group, the boys played so well. We haven't been able to find our best form in the league but I just think the Korean players, I have to give credit to them, when they're asked to step up on the day they just give it everything, like it’s their last game on Earth. They throw everything on the line."
Despite thriving in Asia, Pohang have struggled domestically and finished seventh in the regular season out of 12 teams. Grant concedes the pressure and expectation levels in Korean football compared to those in Australia, as well as the cultural differences, have taken some getting used to. "We're getting to that business end of the season now where you're looking at the table and thinking we could get sucked into something here," he said.
"You have that sense around the club where you feel that there's worrying times ahead if it continues. Whereas in the A-League and you're at the bottom of the league it doesn't really matter does it. Some things here are similar to the UK. You play, or you run until you break down, and then you're on the scrapheap a little and then they don't know what to do with you. So that expectation is there and there is that pressure there as a foreigner."
"I've always been on the other side of it, especially in Australia where you have five foreigners on the books and you're looking at them on match days. But coming here, not speaking the language, there's obviously massive cultural differences and it can be a lot tougher and you do feel you have to perform. It is expected of you to get a result. I kind of feel blessed that I'm a defender, in that regard there's more pressure on attacking players."
Manchester-born, Grant spent five years with Glory after spells at English clubs Portsmouth, Stoke City and Macclesfield Town. The centre-back has been impressed with the technical skills on show in the K League 1, but feels the game are not necessarily faster or more intense than in the A-League. "Because the schedule is so hectic, I don't think the games feel as quick as what I'm used to," Grant said.
"You look at the physical stats, and I think I do a lot less here than I did in the A-League and that's generally because both teams are pretty knackered, they’ve had a game three days earlier. The last four months has been pretty demanding and challenging on the body. I've not really noticed a massive change in terms of intensity. The A-League deserves credit as well, as sometimes the A-League gets knocked a little."
KNEE INJURY A MAJOR SETBACK FOR GILSENAN
Blackburn Rovers' Zak Gilsenan is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury. It's a huge blow for the 18-year old midfielder who signed a two-year professional contract in May and has made two appearances for his clubs' Under-23 side this campaign.
Gilsenan featured prominently in the Under-18s run over the second half of last season when a hat-trick against Manchester United contributed to his seven goals and five assists as Blackburn placed sixth. The Perth-born midfielder, who has Australia and the Republic of Ireland vying for his international future, featured for the first team in the second half of their pre-season friendly against Bradford City.
WARLAND STRIVING FOR REGULAR FIRST-TEAM ACTION
Newcastle Jets recruit Riley Warland is an old head on young shoulders having already gathered a heap of experience over his fledging career. However, the 19-year old defender knows the battle he’s in for if he wants to feature regularly for his new club this summer.
Veterans Matt Jurman and Jordan Elsey currently look to be the two names that will feature in the centre of Nwecastle’s defensive line, but there are young players across the squad vying for their spots should an opportunity arise. One of them is Warland, who already has A-League experience under his belt having played five games for Perth Glory earlier this year.
The young centre back says while the experience of players like Jurman and Elsey is invaluable for him, his personal goal for the season is collect as many first-team minutes as he can. They’ve (Jurman and Elsey) been there for me since day one,” Warland said about his fellow centre backs.
“They want the best for me, and they want to see me start as well... I’m soaking up a lot about their game. (But) there’s only two centre half positions. I want to be pushing them and stepping on their toes... I’m going to make sure that every week I’m going to make it tough for the boss to pick two centre-halves.”
Despite his young age, the Perth-native has already enjoyed a variety of pre-season environments including a season in the UK. It wasn’t too long ago that Warland was testing himself in England, where he gained an understanding of what consistent competition looks after making nine appearances in the Under-18s Premier League for Fulham.
Warland believes his time overseas has helped to quickly mature his game, but has also already seen great improvements in himself since joining Newcastle in early July. “Going over there at such a young age, I think it that’s definitely improved my mentality and attitude,” he said.
“Pre-seasons definitely been hard, but as a collective, I think we’ve all done really well. The standard is amazing. From the youngest boys, to the oldest, everyone has impressed me with their work rate. Over the last months, I’ve seen a lot of improvement in myself.”
As Warland looks to learn from his senior players and new coaching staff, he praised the team for helping him quickly adapt to life in Newcastle and with the Jets. He’s determined to repay their faith in him. “I love the coaching staff here, they are looking after me really well,” he said.
“They have made sure I’m looked after, and they treat me like a real player here and I can’t thank them more for that. I’m grateful for the opportunity that I’ve got here. I want to show the boss what I can do, and show the fans what I’m about and what the badge means to me.”
TAGGART VOWS TO END SOCCEROOS GOAL DROUGHT
Adam Taggart is backing himself to end a frustrating scoreless run in 2021, insisting he will soon be "scoring for fun” again for Australia. The Cerezo Osaka striker has drawn praise from coach Graham Arnold for his recent performances, despite his last Socceroos goal coming in the 1-0 World Cup win against Jordan in November 2019.
Taggart, 28, isn’t concerned by the mini draught - and believes it’s only a matter of time before the goals start flowing again, for club and country. He has scored six times in 15 games for Australia, and one in eight for Cerezo since his arrival from Suwon Bluewings.
“It’s important that I’m contributing to the team - even if I’m not scoring. You have to press, and bring other players into the game,” said a philosophical Taggart whose most recent international outing produced another blank as the Socceroos went down to Japan 2-1.
“I have great players around me and I’m happy when they are scoring and we are winning games. As you get older you realise there are other roles you need to take up in different periods and that’s what I’ve been trying to do. With the national team we're attacking side and I’d love to be among the goals but at the same time a winning side is more important.”
That said, Taggart knows the importance of rekindling his goal touch, especially with Jamie Maclaren and Mathew Leckie likely to be available again for next month’s clash with Saudi Arabia in Sydney. “I believe in myself and I believe that everything will fall into place, and I will be flying again and banging in goals for fun,” prophesied Taggart.
“I’m sure it will come - it’s just a matter of time. I’ve got to keep doing what I’m doing, getting in the right positions and making sure I try and hit the back of the net. I feel like I’m doing that - it’s just one of those things that will come. It’s not like I don’t know how to do it. It will all come back nicely eventually.”
In an illustration of football’s fine margins, Taggart hit the post four times in recent games and has endured a stop-start period to life in the J1 League. “I was trapped in Australia for four months before I even got here, so it was difficult in that aspect,” he added.
“I think it was over six months before I’d actually played a game, so it’s been a little bit of an uphill battle. But I’ve stayed upbeat with these small setbacks (including getting injured in his first game). There’s always that risk when you’ve been out for a while... coming into a team where we’re not creating so many chances is another challenge.”
Taggart has no doubt Australia will topple Saudi Arabia off top spot in Group B when they meet. “We’ve been fantastic in terms of winning, even when we were playing not that well we were still getting the results,” Taggart said of Australia’s 11 straight victories before the loss to the Samurai Blue.
“We were on a fantastic run and a lot of people are really proud of that. We’re disappointed we didn’t get a result against Japan but we’ll hold our heads high and keep going. It’s a little hiccup and I’m 100 per cent confident we’ll keep moving forward and winning games, whether it’s ugly or pretty.”
MATILDAS SET FOR BRAZIL TEST
The Matildas return to home soil on Saturday, for the first time in 19 months, when they host Brazil at CommBank Stadium in Parramatta. It will be the first of a two-game series against the South Americans, the other game will be played next Tuesday (26.10.21) also a the CommBank Stadium. The last game at home was against Vietnam in the Tokyo 2020 Women’s Football Tournament Qualifiers.
Head Coach Tony Gustavsson has locked in Australia’s 23-player squad to take on world number seven, and with the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India less than 100 days, both game is invaluable preparation as Gustavsson and the team continue to build towards the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023. “Preparation is number one,” Gustavsson said. “I said that going into the September camp when we played against Ireland, we changed from ‘performance mode’ from the Olympics to ‘preparation mode’ [ahead of India 2022 and Australia/New Zealand 2023].
“That doesn’t mean that we are going to step on the field not trying to win – we are always going to try and win when we play every game – but we are not going to try and win at the expense of our preparations. We can’t shy away from tough challenges and tough games. We need to look at this as a long run towards the World Cup in ‘23.” The squad will feature the return of fan favourites including full back Ellie Carpenter, midfielder Emily van Egmond, and strikers Kyah Simon and Caitlin Foord. Midfielder Chloe Logarzo has been sidelined due to a long-term knee injury, while injury has also ruled Elise Kellond-Knight (knee), Hayley Raso (shoulder) and Emily Gielnik (toe) out of selection contention.
Several new national team players have retained their place in the squad including Angie Beard, Charli Grant, and Clare Wheeler. Meanwhile Western Sydney product and Young Matildas forward Bryleeh Henry has received her first call up to the senior national team. “We need to be patient,” Gustavsson said. “We can’t expect a debutant coming into the camp to be ready the first time they come in, but we need to expose them to the Matildas’ environment to get them ready for ‘23 and to scout them in our environment, to see who bounds and thrives under that high international tempo that we have in the Matildas.
“We are going to keep looking for new players, and either invite them to the training environment to see them there, or for some players that make a good impression in the training environment, also make sure that they get some game time. It is all about now who can reach their full potential come ‘23. It’s not just about who is the best, it is about who can become the best, so we are looking at ‘23 in all the decisions that we are making right now,” he said.
Former Perth Glory defender Alanna Kennedy is in line to become the 11th Australian woman to join the 100 Club, Kennedy would join current Commonwealth Bank Matildas’ Clare Polkinghorne (136), Elise Kellond-Knight (113), Emily van Egmond (108), Kyah Simon (101) and Sam Kerr (100). Kennedy would be the fourth player this year to reach the century milestone, with captain Sam Kerr reaching the milestone in our last game against the Republic of Ireland. Kennedy made her debut for her country in 2012, in a friendly against Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand at WIN Stadium.
Matildas Squad v Brazil
GK Lydia Williams (Arsenal, UK), GK Mackenzie Arnold (West Ham United, UK), GK Teagan Micah (FC Rosengård, Sweden), Angela Beard (Fortuna Hjørring, Denmark)), Ellie Carpenter (Lyon, France), Steph Catley (Arsenal, UK), Emma Checker (Melbourne City, Kyra Cooney-Cross (Melbourne Victory), Caitlin Foord (Arsenal, UK), Mary Fowler (Montpellier, France), Charlotte Grant (FC Rosengård, Sweden)), Bryleeh Henry (Western Sydney Wanderers), Alanna Kennedy (Manchester City, UK), Sam Kerr (Chelsea, UK), Courtney Nevin (Melbourne Victory), Clare Polkinghorne (Vittsjö GIK, Sweden), Jamilla Rankin (Brisbane Roar), Karly Roestbakken (LSK Kvinner, Norway), Remy Siemsen (Sydney FC), Kyah Simon (Tottenham Hotspur, UK), Emily van Egmond (Orlando Pride, USA), Clare Wheeler (Fortuna Hjørring, Sweden), Tameka Yallop (West Ham United, UK)
CHANGE AT THE TOP OF FOOTBALL WEST (Courtesy of Football West)
Football West has announced that CEO James Curtis will be stepping down from his position after more than five years in the role and has commenced succession planning as he transitions from the position. Football West Chairman Sherif Andrawes praised Mr Curtis’ strong leadership and commitment to delivering a long-term legacy for football in Western Australia since commencing in the role in 2016. “James has been an outstanding CEO and his focus on driving long-term growth, investment and community benefit have contributed to a bright future for football,” Andrawes said.
“His commitment to working with all parts of the WA community and government to engage with football and being a leader driving diversity, inclusion and engagement has ensured football is positioned well for the future of the game. With significant achievements including funding for the long-awaited WA State Football Centre, securing the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in WA and establishing the Football Futures Foundation, there have been many successes during his tenure.”
Curtis said it is the right time to step down from the role and to transition leadership, with Football West strongly positioned for leveraging record growth. “We have built a great team across Western Australia that is well positioned to continue building on our strong foundations. After more than five years in the position and rebuilding from the impact of COVID-19, we are ready for a new CEO to implement and deliver our future strategy," Curtis said.
“I have enjoyed working closely with our Board and our valued partners across government, corporate and the football community to deliver major milestones for the game in WA and establish strong partnerships across Asia for WA football. We have a vibrant and passionate football community that will continue to grow on the back of strong clubs and volunteers and our dedicated Football West team.” Curtis will continue his involvement with football as a Non-Executive Director of Football Futures Foundation, chaired by Nick Tana, and supporting the transition to the new CEO. Football West has commenced an internal and external search for the company’s next CEO.
HERD SPEAKS ABOUT HIS UPS AND DOWNS IN FOOTBALL
Former ECU Joondalup and Bayswater City Academy product Chris Herd lived the Premier League dream, scoring at Anfield, winning a Man of the Match award in one of his first appearances, the sky was the limit for the defender. But his career did not hit the heights many expected, and the 32-year-old spoke to Optus Sports, and reflected on his career at the top level and why he never fulfilled his full potential.
It was late August, 2011, the opening weekend of the season. It’s Aston Villa v Wolves and a 22-year-old West Australian is handed a shock starting XI place at right-back. It would be one that reaped a man of the match performance and effusive praise on Match of the Day that evening from one of the greatest that English football has seen in that position, Lee Dixon.
It was also meant to be the start of a long and fruitful career at the top for a young player who seemed to have all the defensive attributes one would need to stay there. But despite 19 Premier League appearances in that season including a classy finish against Liverpool in front of the Kop, it hasn’t quite panned out that way for Herd as he reflects in depth on ‘things he would have done differently’. After leaving Perth in 2010 and graduating through the Villa academy with his good mate and fellow West Australian Shane Lowry, Herd spent seven seasons in total at the West Midlands club.
Since leaving them in 2014 though, he has been to nine others in just seven years. That’s included a trail through the English lower leagues, a short stint back in the A-League and diverse journeys through Thailand, Bangladesh, India and most recently Malaysia where he’s just finished up a stint playing at centre-back for Terrengganu FC. While those experiences may have dulled the passion of many, that’s not the case for the Perth product, for a game he says he ‘still loves and gets great enjoyment over’ and has a strong desire to keep on playing professionally.
Still only 32, Herd is adamant he can still excel in the A-League and is open to a move back home after a brief 12-game spell with Western Sydney four years ago. “I think I could play in the A-League very easily but something needs to come up and then I’ve got to think about my wife, who has her own career here in the UK, with kids in school. It’s got to work for everyone but I’d never say no to anyone at all. The A-League is a good league and I’m always open to it,” he said.
The pertinent subject when it comes to Chris Herd though are the reflections on his time at the top and why it didn’t last as long as his early displays indicated it would. Why a young player who was gifted aerially for his size, blessed with pace and tenacity and the versatility to apply those attributes at right-back, centre-back and defensive midfield didn’t carve out several years of sustained Premier League football, and of his memories of that breakout performance in the first game of the 2011/12 season at Villa Park.
“I remember Luke Young was sold on the Friday before the game. We had signed Alan Hutton but the deal didn’t go through in time so I got the call to start at right-back and was literally chucked in the deep end. It was an amazing feeling mixed with plenty of butterflies in the stomach but thankfully it went well,” he reflected. “When I look back, my time in the Premier League is never going to be topped. I’m never going to feel that again. But hopefully I can have other enjoyments in the game at whatever level.
“But I’m never going to replicate that because that’s what I worked at from four years old, with my old man, with different teams. That was the dream, playing in the Premier League. And then when you do it, you can’t explain it. “I remember after that first full game, I was still living in the club digs and I remember lying down and I was just like ‘bloody hell, what just happened’ it’s a crazy feeling.”
It was a performance that would lead to a string of starts that season, mainly at defensive midfield, against some of the game’s finest players and in the grandest of arenas, like Anfield. Where his time in football’s showpiece league was punctuated with a sumptuous sweeping right foot finish from just inside the 18-yard box and past goalkeeper Doni, to put Villa 1-0 up. “I’ve got the goal somewhere; my kids are too young to understand it but when they’re older I’ll get it out for them,” he said. “I’ve watched it a few times, people still tag me in it on socials and obviously it brings back a lot of good memories when you see it and I’m proud and privileged to have done that.”
Shortly after that peak point however, problems started to surface in Herd’s career. In the month that followed that goal against Liverpool he was fined by the club after being embroiled in a nightclub brawl along with teammates James Collins and Fabian Delph. And with a litany of injuries starting to take their toll on Herd’s Villa tenure over the next two seasons, he was then made unavailable for selection by the club due to ‘personal reasons’ which coincided with his withdrawal from a Socceroos camp in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup. “I would do things differently,” he conceded. “I always gave my all and trained hard but you’d look after yourself a little better, wouldn’t be going out to a nightclub for example.
“If you could look back and see things with the head that I’ve got on now, I would do things differently to prolong my time at the top. When you’re young you don’t have that knowledge. I’m comfortable in my own skin and can accept certain things that happened in my career. Obviously, I’m not happy with certain things but that’s just part and parcel of living and making mistakes and learning from them. Sometimes it’s frustrating when you think ‘I should have done this differently or that’ but everyone would have those thoughts, not just footballers.”
Herd’s rollercoaster run after that superb start to his professional career translated to the national team as well. It’s easily forgotten that he was a member of the squad for the Socceroos’ biggest triumph, the 2015 Asian Cup, but was forced to leave the tournament early when injury-hit him yet again. In total, he has managed only three caps. It’s a return that belies the talent he possesses and the level he played at but one Herd feels has a lot to do with a run-in with former Australian boss Holger Osieck.
“When I was at Villa, Holger was the manager, I was playing every week and getting overlooked. That was frustrating and I kept thinking what do I have to do to get a game?” Herd recalled. “Then he called me up for a camp in Germany and I think it stemmed from that. I had a falling out with Osieck at that camp and I think he went off me after that. Playing in England, the game is hard and fast. We played a friendly against a local team and I was playing at right-back and got stuck into the winger with my first tackle, as I’ve been taught to do.
“He didn’t like it, we had a disagreement at half-time and he took me off and that was literally the end of it, I didn’t hear from him for a while. I only felt he called me up near the end of his time in charge because he felt forced. But when Ange came in, he was great and fantastic with me, I’ve got nothing but good words to say about Ange. He came to see me at Villa, had a coffee with me and he was great. I think I could have done a lot more with Australia, but you’ve just got to move on with it really.”
Moving on is what Herd has seemingly done pretty well for a player who has endured his fair share of setbacks over the last decade. Pushing on through the knocks both physically and mentally, to carve out a professional career in six different nations. And he’s adamant it’s only enhanced his ability to contribute on the field in the latter years of his time in the game. “When you go through all the situations in these countries and difficult experiences in football it does help you mature as a person and therefore be able to deal with certain situations. It’s shaped me into a better person, definitely,” he said.
“It’s been an advantage playing through Asia. It’s been different, overall enjoyable but I’m 32 now so I want to settle and enjoy the last period of my career. I still think I’ve got a lot to offer on the pitch and off it when it comes to being a leader for young lads and hopefully transitioning into a coaching role.” Whether he is afforded that opportunity or not remains to be seen, but either way, Chris Herd will always have those special memories of his time at the top, and with that goal at Anfield, an Australian Premier League moment to treasure.
CALLS GROW FOR GLORY TO BE HANDED CUP VICTORY BY FORFEIT
Calls are growing for Perth Glory to be handed a forfeit-win in their long-delayed FFA Cup qualifying clash with Melbourne Victory. And Glory owner Tony Sage says the club will not be forced to move their home game to Victoria.
The FFA Cup clash was due to have been played in Perth three months ago but the competition was thrown into chaos because of COVID-19 border closures. Football Australia are trying to make Glory play the match in Victoria in the middle of a tough five-game November road-trip.
The winner would then play Adelaide City, but that club’s chairman Greg Griffin said Glory should be handed victory by forfeit. “How does FA propose to compensate ACFC whilst it has to keep players training and pay them whilst the FA remains unwilling to call a forfeit on Victory because it cannot play Perth,” Griffin said in a letter to Football Australia.
“The FA has completely compromised our position whilst pandering to a Club that should have been required to forfeit weeks ago. Victory either plays in Perth or it forfeits. How hard can this be? I trust this matter can be resolved without further delay. If it is the intention to completely deny Adelaide City a fair chance of proceeding to the next stage then that aim seems to have been achieved.”
Sage said Glory would not agree to adding the Cup clash to the clubs already packed schedule. “It is unworkable and unrealistic to expect us to play another game in Melbourne,” Sage said. “We have to take player safety and welfare into account and we will not play the game away from home.”
“I would prefer another solution than a forfeit but a resolution has to be made and made quickly. If it is decided on ladder positions that obviously suits us. If a team has to forfeit it should not be us.” FA spokesman Peter Filopoulos said they expected the game to be scheduled for the end of November.
GLORY STRENGTHEN SQUAD WITH LOCAL TRIO
Perth Glory have added West Australian trio Trent Ostler, Daniel Walsh and Mitch Oxborrow to their A-League squad for the coming season. 19-year olds Ostler and Walsh are products of Glory's youth development system while Oxborrow, 26, returns to the club after a four years absence.
Ostler and Walsh have agreed terms with Glory on scholarship contracts. "It's great how the club has supported me and I'm really excited to be given the opportunity to continue my career here," said Ostler, who represented Australia at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup alongside Walsh.
Walsh, a central defender, celebrated his 19th birthday by putting pen to paper with Glory. "I'm really looking forward to taking the next steps in my career with my hometown club," said Walsh. "It's fantastic to be playing my football in such a positive environment."
Oxborrow, who played 26 games for Glory between 2015 and 2017 prior to spells with Newcastle Jets and Brisbane Roar, has put pen to paper on a one-year deal. "It's (re-joining Glory) something very special to me and I'm very grateful to be involved with the club and the squad that we've got," Oxborrow said.
Coach Richard Garcia is delighted to have the local trio on board for 2021/22. "Trent and Daniel have shown great determination to overcome serious injuries over the last 12 months," Garcia said. "It's fantastic to see them closing in on a return to full fitness and being in a position to fulfil their huge potential."
"Mitch is someone who understands what Perth Glory is all about and his signing further strengthens our midfield options." Glory's 2021/22 campaign will get underway on Saturday 20 November when Adelaide United provide the opposition at Perth Oval.
GREGORY TAKES OUT THE NPLWA REFEREE OF THE YEAR
The 2021 NPLWA season began in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown, and many in the game, players, coaches and officials alike, were all unsure what was to happen, but we managed to get a full season in. Like the players the officials had to train under covid restrictions, and they all came through with flying colours, and last Saturday Football West held the All-Flags Referees Awards at Dorrien Gardens, with Steven Gregory taking out the major award, the 2021 All Flags Referee of the Year.
The 38-year-old had an outstanding season and he said it was a great season by all the panel in the NPLWA and he was honoured to take out the award. “It’s good to be acknowledged amongst your peers and a bit of reward for effort. Anyone of the elite panel members could have taken the award home, so for it to be me it was a proud moment having won it 12 years ago,” Gregory said.
“The award night was good fun as we don't always get to see each other throughout the season so to be able to catchup with current and former referee's is great. The award night recognises all levels of competitions so to see some of the younger referees and amateur referees you may not have met before is also a benefit of these events.
Gregory was on the national panel a few years ago, but took a break from the game, but he has come back stronger and rejuvenated and is enjoying the game again. “Yes, I had a break a few years ago due to personal reasons, and being on the national panel at the time, which I needed at the time to rejuvenate given the all-year round commitments those duties required,” he explained.
“I think that the break has definitely changed the way I approach games. This year I think some of the success was a result was in my preseason training. Whilst I have been consistently at the top half of the panel for many years perhaps that change led to a better year than last. But as I explained, all the guys on the elite panel are great referees and people and anyone of us could have taken home this award this year.”
The whistle blower started early, and has had many people help in his rise to the top, and he said their help has developed his game. “I started at any early age nearly 20 years now, and having been around for such a long period of time at the elite level I have been fortunate to have many great influences and people support me,” he explained. “It's hard to single out a particular person but they would defiantly know within themselves that they were part of my development and got me to where I have got both previously at the national level and more recently locally at the NPL level.”
Gregory had a taste of the national panel and said there are a number of younger referee’s pushing for a spot on the panel now, but if it came his way again, he would have to think about it. “You can never rule anything out but I'm very happy with my work-life balance and my current arrangements suit me and my family perfectly,” he said. “I have been very fortunate to have been in the national setup previously and been lucky enough to travel internationally and round Australia as a result. I know what the commitment and drive to get to that level takes and I think that the current and younger group of referees are in a better position to show the high standard of referring WA has to offer.”
Caleigh Ormerod was named NPLWA Women's Official of the Year, State League Referee of the Year for 2021 was Stephen Knight, while the Assistant Referee of the Year award went to Arvin Shanmuganathan. It’s been a big couple of seasons for Arvin Shanmuganathan, who has been a regular running the line at Perth Glory A-League games, and he was delighted to win the award.
"It's very honouring to be recognised by your peers and assessors to win this award. There's not a cat's chance in hell I would win something like this as an NPL referee, so it was awesome to be recognised as an AR,” he explained. “We were very fortunate here in WA to have a relatively undisrupted year despite a couple of lockdowns, so that in itself made it a great season. To top it off, being appointed to such an enthralling Top Four final, and to witness what can only be described as a 'worldie' by Kristian Santich was the 'icing on the cake'."
In other awards on the night, State League Assistant Referee of the Year was won by James Webb, State League Youth Referee of the Year was Michael Nguyen, Amateur League Referee of the Year was Ammar Timour. Stephen Quinn won the Community Competitions Referee of the Year, Chloe Smith the Junior League Female Referee of the Year, Joshua Throssell the Junior League Male Referee of the Year, and Jared Maunder the Referee Encouragement Award.
“We value the contributions of all our referees and the All-Flags Referee Awards last night gave us the opportunity as a group to celebrate the achievements of those who have excelled,” Football West Referee Co-ordinator Simon Hicks said. "Congratulations to all our deserving winners and thanks to All Flags for their continued support of Football West referees.”
CASTRO’S GLORY DAYS ARE OVER
Perth Glory have confirmed the exit of midfield maestro Diego Castro, ending the Spanish veteran's successful six year stint with the club. Castro’s fate was sealed following Glory’s signed of former England striker Daniel Sturridge, who filled the club’s fifth and final visa spot.
Castro, 39, had been non-committal as to whether he would be returning for the 2021/22 season. Glory owner Tony Sage patiently gave the Spaniard several months to make his decision but when the opportunity to sign Sturridge arrived the A-League club could not wait any longer.
Sage said he was sad to lose Castro, a player who had a huge impact on the club and the A-League. “Diego has been phenomenal since day one of wearing the purple,” Sage said. “In my opinion he has been the greatest visa player to visit Australia. I am personally very sad that he is leaving and wish him and his family all the best in their future.”
Castro joined Glory in August 2015 with immediate impact, winning the Johnny Warren Medal as the A-League’s best player and named in the PFA Team of the Year following his debut campaign. He was again named in the PFA Team of the Year in 2016/17 and 2018/19.
Castro played 146 league and cup games for Glory, scoring 49 goals across six seasons. He took out three Most Glorious Player awards (2015/16, 2016/17 and 2018/19) and was a key part of the side that claimed the 2019 Premiership. While his future is unclear, it understood his wife Eva wants to return to Spain.
ASHWOOD TAKES OUT ARMADALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Armadale midfielder Kevin Ashwood had an outstanding season at Alfred Skeet Reserve in 2020, and he was rewarded by taking out the Armadale SC Player of the Year at the clubs' presentation night at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle. The 33-year-old, who joined the Reds in 2019 from Ashfield, this after a two-year stint at Western Knights, has fitted in well, and was honoured to be voted Coach’s Player of the Year. “Obviously it’s nice to be recognised and was an absolute privilege to be given the award,” he said. “I was able to sort some niggling injuries out early on which allowed me to focus on my football and enjoy a run of games, after a stop start 2020 NPL season.”
Ashwood said the atmosphere at the club is first class, and they will be looking to push up the table next season. “I’m really enjoying my football at Armadale, there is a really good group of players, coaches and people behind the scenes,” the midfielder explained. “All of who are starting to share a feeling if we stick together while other clubs are chopping and changing, we can have a real crack at that top four next season. We have flirted with it in the last couple of seasons but unfortunately just fallen short towards the business end. Hopefully that changes in 2022 and I’m already looking forward to getting going again.”
Armadale Head Coach John O’Reilly said Ashwood was a deserved winner and is great to have in the squad to help his young squad. “Kevin has been a fantastic leader within the group,” he said. “His experience has been an asset for the learning curve of the youngsters in the team.” The coach also praised youngster Pieter Jacobsz, who won the Players player of the Year. “Pieter is an Armadale player that loves playing for the club,” he said. “He grows in strength every year and we look forward to watching him for years to come.” In other awards on the night Eddie Garrido won the under 20s Coaches Player of the Year, with Daniel Cummins winning the Players Player of the Year. Meanwhile in the under 18s Angel Andres Diaz won the Coaches Player of the Year, with Marley Kay winning the Players Player.
A-LEAGUE REFEREES SET TO SIT OUT FFA CUP GAMES
The new A-League Men’s season is two months away but the leagues officials are yet to sign contracts for the new season, and they have made themselves unavailable for upcoming trial matches and FFA Cup games as the stand-off with the FA continues. Professional Football Referees Australia (PFRA) released a statement on Tuesday saying they had informed Football Australia on Monday their referees would not officiate the games after "more than three months of discussions and efforts to resolve several topics".
The PFRA said referees were without contracts for the upcoming season and added the A-Leagues leadership and coaching department did not have their contracts renewed when the leagues unbundled from Football Australia in July. They said this meant referees had been given "no direction, coaching/instruction and no fitness coaching" over the past three months. "We are now just weeks out from the start of the season, and the referees find themselves in a position without any form of coaching and/or preparation," the statement said.
The PFRA also took issue with the announcement of the A-Leagues refereeing panels, saying "members were unfairly removed from their position without any due process or warning". Adelaide Olympic FC, who beat ECU Joondalup in the round of 32, are due to host Adelaide United, who beat Floreat Athena in the same round, in the FFA Cup this Sunday with Lions taking on Brisbane Roar the Sunday after.
It is unclear what, if any, impact the referees' action will have on the upcoming top-tier seasons. The A-League Men season kicks off on November 19 with the A-Leagues Women's competition commencing on December 3. "The PFRA A-Leagues referees sacrifice an enormous amount for football in the country and it seems staggering that we find ourselves in a position without basic items such as leadership, coaching staff, fair processes for changes to panels, and a standard contract," PFRA president Paul Cetrangolo said in a statement. "The PFRA remains committed to solving these issues but will not officiate further matches while these items remain outstanding."
Football Australia (FA) said the matches will go ahead as scheduled and that referees "have and will be appointed for these matches". FA said the arrangements for elite referees "represent the final changes that need to be implemented" in response to the new governance model in relation to the professional leagues. "Football Australia recently confirmed a new structure for referees and today advertised for several new positions, including a Head of Refereeing to lead the new department," the statement read. "Football Australia can confirm that it is also holding discussions around contractual terms with A-League referees."
NEWCASTLE SIGN BABALJ
Newcastle Jets have continued their A-League squad overhaul with the signing of twice-capped Socceroos striker Eli Babalj on a one-year deal. The 29-year old has been training with Newcastle in the pre-season, after his return from a spell in Thailand, and becomes their 12th new arrival.
"I'm really excited to join a team that will play a very exciting and attacking brand of football," Babalj said. "I believe we will be successful and give the fans in Newcastle something to be proud of. The biggest reason I came here was to work under (coach) Arthur (Papas) again. I know his teams play great football, and he's building something special here."
Papas was delighted to add another attacker to his arsenal as the revamped Jets attempt to climb up the ladder after a disappointing past few seasons. "Having first coached Eli when he was 16, I know the person and the player, and we've signed a man with a fantastic mentality," Papas said.
"He is technically outstanding, physically imposing at 6-foot-4, and is clinical in the box. "He has earned this opportunity and in return we are signing a player who has played for Australia at every level, as well as at the top tier of football in Europe and, importantly, has a point to prove."
Babalj returns to the A-League for the first time since 2019, when he played with Brisbane Roar. His senior career started at Melbourne City in 2010 before moving abroad to join Red Star Belgrade. He then then played for Dutch Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar, from where he was loaned to Adelaide United and PEC Zwolle. The striker also played in the Czech Republic, India and most recently Thailand.
MATILDAS RESPOND TO DE VANNA CLAIMS
Sam Kerr and her Matildas teammates have broken their silence and issued a strong statement after allegations of sexual harassment and bullying within Australia's international women's football team. WA’s Lisa De Vanna, one of the country's most decorated footballers who has 150 caps for her nation, and has played football in Australia, America, Sweden and Italy in a stellar career, revealed bombshell details inside the 'toxic culture' of the Matildas last week, claiming she'd been sexually harassed and humiliated by other players.
'Have I been sexually harassed? Yes. Have I been bullied? Yes. Ostracised? Yes. Have I seen things that have made me uncomfortable? Yes,' De Vanna told News Corp. The current playing group responded on Monday afternoon, with each senior member issuing a comment on De Vanna's revelations. “We empathise with her for not feeling like she could come forth earlier,” the Matildas statement read. “We will work with Football Australia, the PFA and Sport Integrity Australia to ensure that all current and future players feel comfortable, safe and able to report instances of inappropriate behaviour, in a timely manner.”
De Vanna, now retired, revealed last week there had been an extremely harmful culture within the team that left her ostracised from the other women. The 36-year-old, who had a glittering 15-year career for the Matildas and won five W-League titles, said the culture was still prevalent in the current side. “In any sporting organisation and in any environment, grooming, preying and unprofessional behaviour makes me sick,” she said. “As a youngster and a player, I didn't know how to address this ... but it is still happening across all levels and it's time to speak up.”
Socceroos’ legend Robbie Slater last week accused Kerr and her teammates of 'hiding' from the issue in a sternly worded column, saying their silence on the matter was 'deafening'. The Matildas finally responded on Monday, acknowledging there was improvement needed within the team's culture. “As a team, we have spoken at length about the allegations and are all hurt by what has occurred,” the combined statement reads. “We hold this team close to our hearts and for many, this team has been a safe haven. It has given us strength and purpose throughout our careers.
“We are together like a family in this, from our oldest to our youngest player, and the difficulties we've faced in the last week have only made us stronger as a group.” The players also released individual comments on De Vanna's words, with star striker and captain Kerr saying the team had provided her a 'safe haven'. “I have been a part of this team for 12 amazing years, from 15 years old to now. Throughout my career the Matildas have been a safe haven for me and allowed me to grow into the player and person I am today,” she said. “I count myself lucky to be a part of this amazing group of athletes and people.”
Elise Kellond-Knight, who was the first member to hit back at De Vanna's comments only to quickly delete her tweet after receiving backlash, said she was 'proud' of the team's culture. “The Matildas are a large part of my identity. I have dedicated a lot of my time to help grow the culture and professionalism of this team and it's been a fantastic journey that we are all proud of,” she said defiantly. Other members including Mackenzie Arnold and Ellie Carpenter said they 'supported' the team statement but also reiterated their confidence in the current setup.
In a statement released late on Tuesday, FA said it takes a “zero-tolerance approach to any conduct which breaches the standards and values expected of people involved in the game”. FA said it had met with De Vanna and was aware of her “grievances”, but the specific allegations made public on Tuesday were not raised during that meeting. “We have no knowledge of what steps, if any our predecessor organisation, Soccer Australia, undertook in 2001,” FA said. “In the event that Lisa chooses to lodge a formal complaint through the appropriate channels, we will be in a position to investigate and, if appropriate, act accordingly.”
Meanwhile, FA is seeking to create an additional process to independently investigate allegations of historical abuse brought forward by former players or staff in a joint initiative with Sport Integrity Australia. Details of that initiative are yet to be finalised. Professional Footballers Australia’s co-chief executives Beau Busch and Kathryn Gill said they were “deeply concerned” about the players’ allegations. “All players should feel safe, included and respected,” a statement read. “It is critical that the sport provides a safe and inclusive workplace and, importantly, the players are supported to come forward. The PFA has reaffirmed all support and reporting mechanisms available to players and will continue to ensure that the full resources of the PFA are available to all current and former players.”
JAPAN END SOCCEROOS WINNING STREAK
The Socceroos’ record winning streak has come to an end, as an own goal from Aziz Behich five minutes from time gifted Japan a 2-1 victory in their World Cup qualifier at Saitama Stadium. Ao Tanaka had given the hosts the lead early, after a defensive error from Behich, who had a game to forget, but it looked like the Socceroos had won a point when Ajdin Hrustic curled home superbly from the edge of the box. But it wasn’t to be and the unfortune Behich was in the wrong place at the wrong time after the ball hit the right post and bounced off him and into the back of the net for the most heartbreaking of finishes.
The loss to the Samurai Blue continued Australia’s horror streak against their continental rivals, and the defeat meant Graham Arnold’s side has won just the solitary game against Japan in their last 11 encounters, and it was also Australia’s first loss in 12 games. “I thought it was a great spectacle to watch. I thought both teams had a go at each other, it was an exciting game,” Coach Graham Arnold said post-match. “The positives where we played some great football, but at the end of the day it wasn’t meant to be. We’re on nine points from four games. It’s one game at a time.”
The hosts were sitting six points adrift of the Socceroos at kick off and coach Hajime Moriyasu was under a great deal of pressure, but they began lively. The warning signs were there early, as Japan constantly made inroads down Australia’s left-hand side in the opening minutes of the game, but it was a deflected cross from Japan’s Takumi Minamo on Australia’s right flank that led to the opener.
Behich misread the Liverpool midfielders cross and the ball fell perfectly for Ao Tanaka, who finished clinically past Mat Ryan to give the hosts the lead. Graham Arnold’s side looked for a quick response and Tom Rogic’s volley deflected over the top before Trent Sainsbury header at the back post was tipped over the top by Shuichi Gonda. The Japanese keeper was required again moments later, this time palming away Hrustic’s effort.
But it was in the middle of the park where Arnold’s side were struggling, coughing up possession in dangerous areas on numerous occasions. They were lucky not to concede a second on 34 minutes, Hrustic’s lost possession and it gifted Yuya Osako a golden opportunity to extend Japan’s lead, but he fired wide of the post when well placed. The Socceroos were dangerous down the flanks with Martin Boyle a constant threat, and they went within inches of the equaliser six minutes later.
Boyle played a clever ball over the top of the Japanese backline for Adam Taggart, who played a delightful give-and-go with Tom Rogic to put the striker through on goal, but his shot was pushed onto the post by the alert Japan goalkeeper Gonda. Socceroos’ custodian Ryan was also called into action to snuff out numerous crosses and had to be alert to get down smartly to his left in order to keep out a low shot from the dangerous Minamino.
Japan continued to frustrate Australia in the second half, but Arnold’s side were creating chances. First Aaron Mooy fired wide, before Rogic fired over the top on the hour. But six minutes later they were level. Boyle made space down the right and he cut the ball back to Hrustic, who was brought down by Hidemasa Morita and referee Abdulrahman Al Jassim pointed to the spot. Boyle stood over the spot kick but after a lengthy VAR review, the decision was overturned and a free-kick was awarded on the edge of the area.
It mattered little as Hrustic produced a stunning free kick that beat Gonda and went in via the crossbar to level things up. That goal opened the game up with chances at both ends. the game exploded into life as both teams began to throw caution to the wind and left themselves vulnerable to counter-attacks. The Socceroos almost gift-wrapped Japan a second goal, giving the ball away in the middle of the park and Junya Ito was in on goal, but Ryan stood tall to save, and he was back up superbly to save Wataru Endo follow up shot.
The Real Sociedad custodian was at it again moments later, this time getting down well to deny Asano, but despite Ryan’s best efforts, he could do nothing to prevent the winning goal four minutes from time. A cross deflected off of Fran Karacic, which Ryan managed to get a glove to, but it wasn’t enough as the ball hit the right post and bounced off Behich and into the back of the net. Even with the loss, Australia still sits in first place of Group B with nine points, but Japan’s victory gave them a much-needed boost as they find themselves on six points.
“First of all we’re devastated, we did drop three points here. I don’t think we deserved it... if we would have come off with a one-one draw we would have copped it,” goalscorer Hrustic said. “We’re going to continue, and we’re going to keep going. I’m 100 per cent sure we’ll finish on top if we keep going the way we have been.” Captain Mat Ryan added. “With how it played out, obviously it hurts. It always hurts when you lose. We feel a little bit hard done by the amount of bad luck for that second to go in, but for sure we’ll continue to get better.”
The Socceroos next meet Saudi Arabia in a home game on November 11, and Football Australia are in advanced discussions with the NSW Government regarding hosting the match in Sydney under a Quarantine Management Plan. To qualify for a fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup™, Australia must finish either first or second in Group B, which includes ten matches to be played from September 2021 to March 2022, to qualify directly. A third-place finish would send the Socceroos to a play-off against the third-place team from Group A, followed by an intercontinental play-off.
Australia: GK Mat RYAN, 2 Fran KARACIC (4 Rhyan GRANT 89’), 19 Harry SOUTTAR, 20 Trent SAINSBURY, 16 Aziz BEHICH, 22 Jackson IRVINE, 10 Ajdin HRUSTIC, 13 Aaron MOOY, (11 Awer MABIL 61’), Tom ROGIC, (7 James JEGGO 80’), 6 Martin BOYLE, (17 Chris IKONOMIDIS 89’), 9 Adam TAGGART (15 Mitchell DUKE 61’) – Subs not used: RGK Lawrence THOMAS, RGK Danny VUKOVIC, 3 Callum ELDER, 5 Ryan MCGOWAN, 8 Bailey WRIGHT, 14 Kenneth DOUGALL, 21 Riley MCGREE
Japan: GK Shuichi GONDA, 5 Yuto NAGATOMO (20 Yuta NAKAYAMA 85’), 6 Wataru ENDO, 10 Takumi MINAMINO (18 Takuma ASANO 78’), 13 Hidemasa MORITA (7 Gaku SHIBASAKI 85’), 14 Junya ITO, 15 Yuya OSAKO (11 Kyogo FURUHASHI 61’), 16 Takehiro TOMIYASU, 17 Ao TANAKA, 19 Hiroki SAKAI, 22 Maya YOSHIDA – Subs not used: RGK Eiji KAWASHIMA, RGK Kosei TANI, 2 Naomichi UEDA, 3 Sei MUROYA, 4 Ko ITAKURA, 8 Genki HARAGUCHI, 9 Daichi KAMADA, 21 Ado ONAIWU - Referee: Abdulrahman Al Jassim
TAGGART'S INSIDE VIEW OF JAPAN RIVALRY
As one of two Socceroos currently playing their club football in Japan, Adam Taggart has been the centre of attention in the lead up to tomorrow's World Cup Qualifier. The Cerezo Osaka frontman has been an essential part of the Socceroos squad which chalked up its eleventh consecutive victory last week against Oman.
Taggart provided an insight in what it is like to play his club football in a nation that will this week be considered enemy territory for the Socceroos. “Growing up as a kid and watching all of these big games with Australia and Japan, it’s always been pretty clear to everyone the rivalry and competition between the two nations,” he said.
“After being there as well, particularly in the last couple of weeks leading up into this game, there’s been a lot of questions and talk about it and the Japanese have always mentioned people like Tim Cahill and how tough Australia has been for them.”
“In all of those chats and interviews, I’ve always said how much everyone’s looking forwards to it because it’s a massive game and everyone’s buzzing for it. It’s a great opportunity for a massive match, and another one we expect to win and give our all. We’re confident in what we can do.”
With Japan having only picked up three points in as many games in the third qualifying round, there is certainly pressure on the Samurai Blue to perform against the Socceroos on home soil. But Taggart and his teammates are determined to give everything they’ve got as they approach a fixture that has historically sprung up its fair share of challenges for Australia.
“They (Japan) are a top opposition,” he said. “They’ve got some great individual players, and a lot are doing really well over in Europe at the moment. I know there’s a lot of pressure on them with these poor results they’ve had, and for us, as I said, we’ve got a winning mentality where we’re confident in what we can do even if we don’t play so well.”
Taggart attributes the Socceroos’ hot run of form to the team spirit that Graham Arnold has grown within the squad. “It goes to show our winning mentality,” he said. “The whole mental and attitude side of things here is massive with Arnie, and it works.”
“Even in games like against Oman, where it wasn’t so pretty, we’re still able to get the result and that’s the main thing. We’ve got a great group and a close bunch of mates really, so we’re looking forward to a big game and can’t wait to get stuck in.”
STURRIDGE REVEALS GLORY MOVE IS THE ‘RIGHT FIT’
Perth Glory recruit Daniel Sturridge has revealed coach Richard Garcia’s optimism and desire to play attacking football was key to his signing for the A-League club. The 32-yaer old striker said he had a “gut feeling” that the move was right after knocking back lucrative offers from Europe and Asia.
“(Garcia) gave me a great feeling and that’s the most important thing,“ said former England and Liverpool player Sturridge. “How he saw me playing within the framework of the club, how he sees my role, how he wants to set the team up. I’m quite relaxed about everything.”
“Speaking to the coach, the hierarchy and the players I feel like it was the right fit for me. Everything that was said was what I needed. I go off my gut quite a lot and sometimes things just feel right. At the end of the day it felt right. It was a football decision. It’s not about the lifestyle.”
Sturridge’s one-year deal is a massive coup for Glory. The striker made 26 appearances for England, scoring eight times, while playing in the English Premier League for Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool. Along the way he twice won the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup as well as collecing an English Premier League champions medal.
Sturridge last played for Turkish club Trabzonspor, scoring seven times in 16 appearances, before his three-year contract was terminated when he received a four-month worldwide ban for breaching betting rules. He chose not to take any immediate offers after the ban ended but has been training with La Liga club Real Mallorca.
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities and a lot of offers over the last 19 months but I didn’t feel like any of them were the right fit’,” he said. “It was a hard decision to stay out of the game. Watching games there was an element of ‘I want to get out there’, but it was about choosing the right place and making the right decision.”
“The decision had to be right for me, to play football in a competitive team and be happy. This is what I was born to do. I don’t think I can ever fall out of love with the game. This game has given me so much and I’ve learned so much, not just from a footballing standpoint, but as a human being. I’ll always have the drive, the ambition to want to play.”
KERR NOMINATED FOR BALLON D’OR
After another outstanding season for country and club, Australian striker Sam Kerr has been shortlisted for the most prestigious award in world football, being named one of the 20 contenders for the Ballon d'Or. The annual award from France Football has been awarded to male footballers since 1956, and was first given to female players in 2018.
Norwegian star Ada Hegerberg won the inaugural award, before American Megan Rapinoe claimed the prize in 2019. It was not awarded last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kerr, who had two stints at her home club Perth Glory, also played a season at Sydney FC, before stints at American clubs Western New York Flash, Sky Blue FC and Chicago Red Stars, before joining Chelsea in 2019, and has earned 100 Matildas caps. The striker finished the 2020/21 campaign as Chelsea's top scorer with 28 goals in all competitions, reached the semi-finals at the Olympics with Australia, and will lead the team out in historic friendlies against the USA later this month.
Kerr's Chelsea teammates Magdalena Eriksson, Jessie Fleming, Pernille Harder and Fran Kirby were also among the 20 finalists. Women's shortlist: Stina Blackstenius (BK Hacken, Sweden), Kadidiatou Diani (PSG, France), Christiane Endler (Olympique Lyonnais, France), Jennifer Hermoso (FC Barcelona, Spain), Marie-Antoinette Katoto (PSG, France), Ashley Lawrence (PSG, France), Lieke Martens (FC Barcelona, Spain), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal, England), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage, USA), Sandra Panos (FC Barcelona, Spain), Irene Paredes (FC Barcelona, Spain), Alexia Putellas (FC Barcelona, Spain), Wendie Renard (Lyon, France), Christine Sinclair ( Portland Thorns, USA), Ellen White (Manchester City, England), Magdalena Eriksson, Jessie Fleming, Pernille Harder, Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby (All Chelsea, England)
RAWLINS FEATURES IN 'NEXT GENERATION 2021'
Perth Glory defender Joshua Rawlins has been selected in 'The Guardian' newspaper's top players of "Next Generation 2021", a list featuring 60 of the most talented players in the world born in 2004. Adelaide United's Mohamed Toure is also featured on the list which identifies the top players of each age group annually, providing updates on the career progress made by all 60 players as the years go by.
Rawlins, 17, was praised for his intelligence and versatility after making 12 appearances in his debut A-League campaign in 2020/21. The full-back will be eager to increase his minutes under coach Richard Garcia this season and continue to prove why he's rated as one of the most promising players in his age group worldwide.
It's been three years since an A-League player last featured in 'The Guardian' newspaper's list, with then Perth Glory midfielder Jacob Italiano was selected as one of the top 60 players born in 2001. Noah Botic (formerly of Hoffenheim and currently signed for Western United) is the most recent Australian to make the cut, named as part of the "Next Generation 2019".
SOCCEROOS BEAT OMAN TO MAKE IT 11-STRAIGHT WINS IN WORLD CUP QUALIFIES
The Socceroos maintained top spot in Group B in FIFA World Cup qualifying after a 3-1 win against Oman at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on Friday morning. Goals from Awer Mabil, Martin Boyle and Mitchell Duke secured a crucial three points and maintain top spot, on goal difference from Saudi Arabia. The win saw Australia become the first nation to register 11-straight wins in a single FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
“We got dragged into an erratic game at times and Oman threw a lot at us,” Socceroos’ coach Graham Arnold said post-match. “We got, we were a bit erratic, but once we got the boys in at half-time and calmed them down and we focused more on keeping the ball and moving them side-ways and making them chase the ball and I felt that we took over the game.”
The green and gold made a perfect start to their home game, and they were ahead on nine minutes. The Omani defence failed to clear a Jackson Irvine cross into the box, and Mabil pounced on the loose ball to fire home clinically. But Oman went close to levelling moments later, a slip from Irvine in midfield allowed the ball to be played out to Zahir Sulaiman Abdullah Al Aghbari on the edge of the penalty area, whose shot was acrobatically tipped over the bar by the alert Mat Ryan.
It was the Socceroos who started to take control and Tom Rogic forced a smart save from Faiz Al-Rushaidi, and moments later the Celtic striker was in again, Aziz Behich slipping him into the penalty area but his shot was well saved by Al-Rushaidi. However, Oman hit back as Al Aghbari pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area and his low shot was palm away at full stretch by Ryan. But Australian custodian could not do anything about Oman finding the equaliser just before the half an hour mark.
The Socceroos' seven-and-a-half-hour streak without conceding was broken by Al Mandhar Al Alawi, who showed composure in the box to touch the ball away from Australia’s defenders and rifle a shot past Ryan. Then two minutes after being instrumental in Oman’s goal and first-half chances, Al Aghbari was stretchered off after a clash with Irvine looked to have seriously damaged the left-winger’s shoulder. Both teams probed for a late goal before the break, but it was not to be and the first half ended all square.
With all to play for in the second half, the Socceroos once again claimed an early lead. Boyle continued his fine goalscoring form as he bravely headed home a parried Adam Taggart shot from close range. Five minutes later, Boyle was in the action again as he was brought down in the box with a push in the back but the referee and VAR waved away Australia’s claims for a penalty. Just after the hour mark, Ryan was called into action by Al Alawi, who nearly doubled his tally and with another equaliser.
The Omani midfielder managed to get in behind Harry Souttar in the penalty area after a long ball, but he was not afforded enough time to pull the trigger and Ryan smothered the chance. Mabil almost found his second goal of the match on 70 minutes, as he found himself unmarked at the back post, but he could not direct his header goalward. Another header went begging ten minutes later, this time it was Duke, who rose above his defender and directed his shot to the wrong side of the post after Fran Karacic expertly found the Fagiano Okayama striker with a superb cross from the right.
However, the missed opportunity did not break the confidence of Duke, who with minutes remaining, secured the three points for the Socceroos with a tidy finish inside the six-yard box after he was again picked out by Karacic. Australia travels to Japan for their next match on Tuesday night (AEDT) with the opportunity to seal six huge points that would go a long way towards securing passage to our nation's fifth-straight FIFA World Cup Finals.
Australia: GK Mat RYAN, 4 Rhyan GRANT (2 Fran KARACIC 80’), 6 Martin BOYLE (17 Chris IKONOMIDIS 86’), 9 Adam TAGGART (15 Mitchell DUKE 63’), 10 Ajdin HRUSTIC, 11 Awer MABIL, 16 Aziz BEHICH, 19 Harry SOUTTAR, 20 Trent SAINSBURY, 22 Jackson IRVINE (7 James JEGGO 80’), 23 Tom ROGIC (13 Aaron MOOY 63’) – Subs not used: RGK Lawrence THOMAS, RGK Danny VUKOVIC, 3 Callum ELDER, 5 Ryan MCGOWAN, , 8 Bailey WRIGHT, 14 Kenneth DOUGALL, 21 Daniel ARZANI
Oman: GK Faiyz AL RUSHEIDI, 2 Mohammed AL-MASLAMI, 6 Ahmed AL-KHAMISI, 7 Khalid AL-HAJRI (9 Abdulaziz AL-MUQBALI 66’), 8 Zahir Sulaiman AL AGHBARI (4 Arshad AL-ALAWI 35’) (10 Mohsin AL-KHALDI 82’), 12 Abdullah FAWAZ (16 Omer AL-FAZARI 65’), 17 Ali AL-BUSAIDI, 19 Al Mandhar AL ALAWI (11 Issam AL SABHI 65’), 20 Salaah AL-YAHYAEI, 21 Abdulaziz AL GHEILANI, 23 Harib AL-SAADI – Subs not used: RGK Ahmed AL RAWAHI, RGK Ibrahim AL MUKHAINI, 3 Fahmi SAID, 5 Juma AL HABSI, 13 Khalid AL-BRAIKI, 14 Ahmed AL KAABI, 15 Jameel AL YAHMADI - Referee: Nawaf Shukralla
STURRIDGE READY FOR NEW CHALLENGE (By Neil Sherwin)
Daniel Sturridge is fit and raring to return to football having signed Perth Glory last week, ending a 19-month absence from competitive action. The 32-year-old striker has been making headlines Down Under since agreeing to join Glory for the 2021/22 A-League Men season and says that he is excited about the new challenge. “I’m not there for a holiday, I’m there to play football, I’m there to perform to the best of my ability,” he told the media on Friday. “Outside of the game, of course it’s nice to have things to do and I’ve heard great things about the city but that being said, it’s a football decision for me.”
The former Chelsea and Liverpool man played his last game of football for Turkish giants Trabzonspor in March 2020, but his contract was terminated when he received four-month ban for breaching gambling regulations. The striker, who has 26 England caps to his name, spent the last few months training with La Liga side Real Mallorca and there has been no shortage of offers for his services, but his love for the game had never waned during his spell on the sideline, Sturridge insisted that would never be the case.
“I had a lot of opportunities and a lot of offers over the last 19 months, but I didn’t feel like any of them were the right fit, so we made the decision to come to Perth,” he explained. “This is a game I’ve enjoyed and loved playing since I was in my front garden at home as a three, four-year-old kicking a ball around. Even when I’m old and grey I’ll still be playing keepy-uppies with my grandkids or whatever it may be. This beautiful game will remain with me forever, this is what I was born to do.”
The opportunity to make a move for Sturridge came about quickly and with clubs allowed five foreign players, he fills the spot vacated by Spaniard Diego Castro. Ex-Liverpool players Robbie Fowler and Brad Jones, a Perth native who also joined Glory this offseason, played a role in the signing with glowing references for both the club and the competition. He is currently in England saying his goodbyes to family and friends before heading to Australia. Glory are hopeful of having him in the country shortly and out on the training pitch by the end of October once he has completed his mandatory quarantine. That will give him three to four weeks to prepare for the season opener at home to Adelaide United on November 20.
Injuries have been a big problem throughout his career, but Sturridge says the break has been helpful in that regard and he is fit, working with a trainer following the conclusion of his time at Mallorca. “This is the longest time I’ve ever had not playing competitive games, but in terms of training I’ve been training the whole time,” he said. “I’ve not let myself go, had time off or had month stretches or anything like that where I’ve not been training. I haven’t really lost any fitness. In fact, I’ve lost weight, I’ve got probably more in shape.”
The Sturridge acquisition is a massive coup for both Glory and the A-League Men as a whole, and the club’s owner Tony Sage has told of unprecedented demand for replica shirts baring the player’s name. Australia’s top league has attracted some big names over the past decade, including Alessandro Del Piero, David Villa, Emile Heskey, Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill and Keisuke Honda, but two-time Champions League winner Sturridge is right up there with them all in terms of ability and hype. With football down the pecking order in Australia’s sporting hierarchy, Glory will be keen to maximise Sturridge’s impact both on and off the pitch in an attempt to draw attention from some of the other codes.
While he admits to not knowing much about Glory’s history and supporter dynamic, Sturridge is looking forward to learning once he gets out and about in the community. “I’m very fan friendly, I like to integrate with the fans,” he said. “I like to think I’ve had a great relationship with the fans at every club I’ve played with really, and that’s important too. Sometimes players ostracise themselves and feel that it’s best to stay away and not engage sometimes. For me, I’m the opposite. I like to engage with the fans, I like to have banter.” Sturridge’s signature goal celebration is well known to football supporters across the world and if he can find the net on a regular basis, it will be hard to keep Perth Glory off the back pages.
TO JAB OR NOT TO JAB
It’s a dilemma for everyone in the world at the moment, should you have the Covid-19 vaccination or not. We can argue the pros and cons, but if we are to get back to some normality it has to be done. It’s been reported this week that up to 15 players across the A-League face being barred from training, playing and traveling after declining to take vaccine.
Several of the vaccine hesitant group, including players from Melbourne Victory, Macarthur FC, Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory, could be stood down as early as next week. It’s reported that some, though, are seeking vaccine exemptions on medical - rather than moral - grounds and have the support of their clubs and the Australian Professional League in pursuit of those waivers.
Victoria, for one, is mandating elite sportspeople to have had at least one inoculation by October 15. If they decline then they will be prevented from training or attending venues. The players aired their concerns to the PFA on Thursday in emergency talks ahead of next month’s A-League kick-off.
“As always, the PFA continues to have extensive consultation with its members on a range of issues, which includes COVID-19 vaccinations,” players union boss Beau Busch told FTBL. “The players across our professional leagues have complied with incredibly strict protocols and made significant sacrifices since the beginning of the pandemic to ensure the industry can continue to operate and to protect public health.”
Those who decline over freedom of choice issues face the prospect of having their contracts terminated, or possibly sitting out the season. They believe they are being coerced into taking what they believe is a rushed vaccine with an unknown long-term safety profile. Both the PFA and the clubs are in favour of the mass nationwide vaccination program and are encouraging the players to reconsider.
“Following an extensive education program delivered with the APL and the clubs vaccination rates have to date been incredibly high and we continue to ensure that players have access to medical advice and expertise as required," Busch explained. “As the health advice and measures across the country continue to evolve, we are continuing to assess the impacts on players in relation to their COVID-19 vaccination status and ensure that players are provided with the best possible information and advice.”
KERR ON TARGET AGAIN FOR CHELSEA
Samantha Kerr has scored her seventh goal in five games as Chelsea kicked off their Women's Champions League campaign with a thrilling 3-3 draw against Wolfsburg. The Matildas captain opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a classy finish but it was teammate Pernille Harder's stoppage-time equaliser that grabbed a point for the hosts, who came back from 3-1 down early in the second half. Kerr's strike adds to her tally of five in the English women's top flight and one in the FA Cup last week.
DE VANNA DETAILS ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE
One of Australia's greatest ever players, Matildas striker Lisa De Vanna, has revealed a toxic culture within the sport that includes allegations of indecent assault, sexual harassment, bullying and grooming. The 36-year old played for Australia 150 times and at four World Cups ahead of her retirement last month, said abuse was a part of her life in the sport.
As a 17-year old with the junior national team in 2001, De Vanna recalled having to "fight" off a group of team-mates. "I was pulled down from behind and dry-humped by a few of my teammates," the Matildas legend said. "I fought my way off the floor kicking and screaming. They thought it was funny. I was just a young kid from Perth, I didn’t know any different. I lost my shit and wanted to punch them."
On a separate occasion De Vanna said she was pressured by team-mates to join them in the shower. "There needs to be consequences," said De Vanna, whose claims are being investigated by Football Australia. "I have seen cultural problems at all levels throughout the years - from men and women - and girls coming through need to be brave, and also the girls that have been through this also need to be brave and know they are not alone."
"Have I been sexually harassed? Yes. Have I been bullied? Yes. Ostracised? Yes. Have I seen things that have made me uncomfortable? Yes. In any sporting organisation, grooming, preying and unprofessional behaviour makes me sick. As a youngster and a player I didn’t know how to address this ... but it is still happening across all levels and it’s time to speak up."
De Vanna is speaking up now after being triggered by a recent incident involving a current professional player within the Football Australia system - a player she said had suffered personally and professionally. The Fremantle-raised striker took to social media at the weekend to respond to a tweet from United States superstar Megan Rapinoe who was commenting on allegations of sexual harassment in the National Women's Soccer League.
IRELAND MAKE THEIR MOVE FOR GILSENAN
The Republic of Ireland have moved to secure the international future of Blackburn Rovers youngster Zak Gilsenan by naming him in their Under-19 squad for upcoming friendlies. The 18-year old has been involved in something of a tug-of-war during his teenage years, with the former Barcelona prospect having represented Australia at youth level.
Gilsenan, who was born in Perth and played juniors at Sorrento, spent time with Ireland Under-19s in a training camp earlier this year and has now received a call-up ahead of a two-game series with Sweden on October 8 and 11. The teenager left Perth in 2012 to enter the youth academy at Barcelona and has also spent time with Liverpool.
LOWRY SIGNS TWO-YEAR EXTENSTION WITH JOHOR
Johor Darul Ta’zim have extended the contract of defender Shane Lowry for another two years. The former ECU Joondalup junior is joined at the Malaysian Super League club by Matthew Davies, who played juniors with Perth SC and is now in his seventh season in Malaysia.
Lowry, 31, said he is pleased to extend his time with Johor. "As soon as I heard JDT were interested, I knew I wanted to come because JDT has the whole package," he said. "I would like to let my actions and performance do the talking. The hard work starts now and there’s more room for improvements to come."
Club technical director and former Perth Glory player Alistair Edwards said Lowry had impressed during his six-month contract with JDT. "He initially signed for a six-month deal and obviously he performed exceptionally well for the club," said Edwards. "Today is the official signing ceremony for the extension of the contract for another two years."
Lowry turned out for Joondalup as a junior before heading to England where he played for Aston Villa, Plymouth Argyle, Leeds United, Sheffield United, Milwall and Leyton Orient across a decade. He then played four seasons with Perth Glory, making 73 appearances, before gaining 44 outings with Qatar Super League outfit Al Ahli between 2019 and 2020.
ROUX RETURNS TO CENRAL COAST
New Zealand international Storm Roux has returned to Central Coast Mariners after spending three years at Melbourne Victory. The 28-year old defender started his A-League career with Perth Glory but it was after moving to Central Coast Mariners in 2013 that things started to take off.
Across a five-season period Roux made 116 league and cup appearances for Central Coast and in the process gained international honours for the All Whites. He then moved to Victory where he made a further 88 senior appearances during a three-season stay.
Roux is excited to be back with Central Coast. “I am very happy to return to the Mariners where I started my career and spent so much of my time,” said Roux, who played juniors at Sorrento and was part of the National Training Centre program. “This club means a lot to my family and I and I’m excited to be a part of Monty’s (coach Nick Montgomery) squad and build on what was achieved last season.”
Central Coast coach Montgomery is pleased to have Roux back at the club. “Bringing Storm back to the Coast will add competition for places, plus his experience and good character will be a great example to our younger players,” Montgomery said. “He is at a good age to continue his development and improve areas of his game, giving him the licence to be a key player for us once more”
Roux will join the Central Coast squad immediately ahead of their A-League Men's opening round fixture with Newcastle Jets on 21 November. He becomes the clubs eleventh off-season signing after Nicolai Müller, Noah Smith, Cy Goddard, Bèni Nkololo, Dan Hall, Matt Simon, fellow West Australian Mark Birighitti, Key Rowles, Marco Urena and Run Tongyik.
CITY SECURE GALLOWAY FOR THREE MORE SEASONS
Scott Galloway will be continuing his A-League Men's journey with Melbourne City after re-signing with the club. The 26-year old made his A-League debut in 2013 for Melbourne Victory as a teenager and has since made close to 200 league and cup appearances across nine campaigns with Melbourne Victory, Central Coast Mariners, Adelaide United and Melbourne City.
Galloway, who collected league champions and Grand Final winners’ medals with City last season, is pleased to have put pen to paper with the club on a long-term contract. “I’m extremely happy to re-sign with the Club for a further three years,” said Galloway, a Gosnells City and Cockburn City junior prior to entering the Australian Institute of Sport in 2012.
“The club is at the forefront of everything in Australian football and I’m excited to continue building on what we have achieved over the last two years. Winning the club’s first Premiers Plate and Championship Trophy at home in front our amazing fans was something special and I’m looking forward to creating more great memories in the future.”
City director of football Michael Petrillo considers Galloway a key member of the clubs A-League squad. “Scott played a pivotal role in our success last season and at only 26 years of age, still has his best football ahead of him,” commented Petrillo. “Scott’s physical qualities, his ability to play on the right or the left, along with his technical and tactical strengths makes him a perfect full back for our game model.”
“To see the way Scott has continued to improve every season gave us every confidence to extend his contract, and to have him here until at least the end of the 2024/2025 season is again, testament to the environment that we have created here and adds to the stability in our playing group for the coming seasons.”
AMATEUR CUP WEEKEND REVIEW
North Perth United are the 2021 Belt Up Amateur Cup winners after a narrow 1-0 win against South Perth United in Sunday’s Final at Macedonia Park. It was a tight game with both sides having chances, and it looked like we were heading to extra time, but four minutes from time second half substitute Andy O’Neill headed home the winner to give North Perth their third Cup final win.
North Perth coach Luke O’Neill said it was a great cup final. “It could have gone either way South Perth were excellent all night full credit to Lee, his players and the club they have had a great season and battled all the way to the end,” he explained. “First half we weren’t great could tell there were some nerves. We got in at half time and sorted a few things out, second half we got the ball a lot more and looked more dangerous and five minutes from time we got the winning goal.
“Kelechi was amazing all night a true captain’s performance his cross found Andy (O’Neill) who made no mistake, I don’t think I’ve seen my brother score a header before but it sent the NPU faithful into raptures what was pleasing to see. I’m just so happy for the players and the club they deserve this, only three players stayed from season 2020, the hard work in getting this squad together has paid off and I’m just buzzing for everyone involved. Finally, I’d also like to take the opportunity on behalf of everyone involved with North Perth United we are sending our best wishes and thoughts to Danny Hodgson, the Hodgson family and ECU Joondalup.”
The skipper said it was a great game and one they had to work hard to win. “Firstly, commiserations to South Perth United. We watched them over the last few weeks but they had a game plan on Sunday, they matched us 1v1, won individual battles and for large parts of the game it worked. The job Lee (Haywood) is doing with those boys is superb and I'm sure we will see them again soon,” North Perth skipper Kelechi Osunwa explained.
“For our boys and the club, it's an unreal achievement. Only seven trophies are up for grabs for our club and we've won two leagues and two cup and received medals in all but one. It's been a long year but to a man, all the boys stepped up and contributed throughout the cup run and I'm just so proud of them. I'm also delighted for the gaffer too, always hard replacing Alex Carter and losing 16 players from last season but to take us to two finals, go to extra time with an NPL side and get silverware for the first team is awesome. Time to rest up now and hopefully see all the boys hungry for more silverware next year.”
It was the final game of a busy Football West Amateur Cup Weekend which saw six games on Friday evening and all-day Sunday. It was Premier Division side North Perth who had the first chance after only two minutes, with Alex Corner’s corner headed wide at the back post by Jean-Marc D’Avray. But division one side South Perth lifted and John Philippidis fired into the side netting on the quarter hour, before Jack Dalla Via saw his long range shot saved low by Todd Ross. It was South Perth who were on top and they went close again on 26 minutes.
Alex Godfrey cut back on to his left foot, but his low shot from the edge of the penalty area flashed inches past the post with Ross well beaten. The best chance of the first half fell to North Perth ten minutes later. A short corner caught South Perth napping and Javier Pineres Mestre’s curling shot crashed off the crossbar and away to safety, and at the break it was 0-0 with all to play for.
North Perth went close again in the first minutes the second half, Corner’s corner found big defender Brett Cutting, whose header beat Lee Fleck, but Godfrey cleared the ball off the line. The game was on a knife edge and both sides had chances in an end-to-end game watched by a vocal crowd. First on the hour mark South Perth’s Godfrey saw his shot well saved by Ross, before Mark Donnelly headed wide for North Perth. But four minutes from time it was North Perth who found the opener. A cross from the right from skipper Kelechi Osunwa found O’Neill who beat keeper Fleck to the fall to head home into an empty net.
Defender Mark Donnelly said they had to work for it, but delighted to win the cup for Luke and his coaching staff. “South Perth made it a very competitive game, and worked really hard for 90 minutes, and it was a tight game that could have gone either way,” he said. “It wasn’t our best performance today, but in the cup, it’s only the results that matter, and we were glad to get the result after a long season, and reward the coaches Luke and Kevin who’ve worked hard putting together a team this year after a lot of player turnover.”
North Perth United also won the Belt Up Amateur Reserves Cup Final, beating Maccabi 4-1 at Macedonia Park on Sunday. A brace from Ryan Baxter and singles to Darragh Cullen and Nicholas Papa gave Chris Batten’s side the win, while Kobe Walters scored a late consolation for Maccabi, but it was too little too late. “It was a really tough game, as we couldn’t underestimate Maccabi as they had nothing to lose. It was a good battle and really tight for the first 15 minutes or so, we then took control of the midfield and started creating chances,” Batten explained.
“Once the first one went it which was an absolute beauty from Ryan Baxter, it settled us and allowed us to play with freedom. We are a very good side with great players and it was fitting that Darragh Cullen playing in his last game for the club scored to settle it. Immensely proud of the side not only the final day but on a fantastic season for the club. Thanks also to Football West for streaming the game which allowed family and friends here and home in the UK to watch the game.”
North Perth was ahead on 24 minutes, some neat build up play down the left saw the ball played into Michael Carrick, who laid the ball off to Baxter on the edge of the penalty area and he picked out the bottom corner of the net. Both sides had chances in an entertaining game, but it was Maccabi who had North Perth on the back foot, but they couldn’t find the equaliser, and on the hour, it was North Perth who doubled their lead. Cullen won possession on the edge of the box and drifted past two South Perth defenders before firing low past Daniel Gomer.
The game was all but sealed on 77 minutes when North Perth added a third, Baxter ghosting in at the back post to head home. It was 4-0, ten minutes later, Gary Nolan’s shot was saved by Gomer, but Papa was quickest to the rebound to fire home. Maccabi scored a consolation goal in the final minute, Brad Hershowitz’s free kick deflected off the wall, the ball falling kindly for Walters who fired home past Ashley Cooper.
In the Women’s Metro Final Fremantle City have beaten Baldivis District 1-0. The only goal of the game came on 15 minutes, when Zoe Andrijich’s free kick wasn’t dealt with by the Baldivis defence and Rachael Oliver nipped in and fired past Chloe Marshall. In the first game on Sunday Perth SC have beaten North Perth United 1-0 to win the Belt Up Metropolitan Cup Final. The only goal of a tight game came on 69 minutes, Matt Andrews found Ryan Fielder out on the left, he sent Sam Jones in down the right channel, and he played the ball inside to Cameron Sutton who finished with aplomb past Kody Dvauz.
“It was a great performance by every single player, led by our captain Alex Duncan and our coach Gary ‘Gary Goals’ Davies. All the lads gave it their all for 90 minutes and didn’t leave anything out there. We made it a point to win all our individual battles around the pitch and be first to every ball and it paid off,” Sutton explained. “Probably our most complete performance of the season every single player did their job, battled hard and stayed disciplined. Great bunch of lads and a great end to our season. Hopefully win it back next year.”
The Cup Finals began on Friday evening and Forrestfield United are the 2021 Masters Cup winners after a come-from-behind 2-1 win against Hillarys in the late game at Macedonia Park. Declan Byrne gave Hillarys the lead early, his looping header beating Luke Woodfin. But two minutes before the break Greig Christie restored parity for Forrestfield firing from a free kick from 20 meters. Both sides had chances to win it, but seven minutes from time Scott Fyfe won it for Forrestfield. Jeevan Krishnan was sent in on goal, his shot saved by James Rogan, but Fyfe fired home the rebound to seal the win.
“It was a fiercely contested, enjoyable, fair, and respectful match in the Masters Cup Final on Friday night. We know the Hillary's boys had a tough year with some heartbreak and it doesn't matter what level you play at, only a footballer knows how much it hurts. I've been on the losing end a few times so I know how special something like this is,” Forrestfield’s Rory Mouttet explained.
“For me I'm just happy for the boy and for the club. Some of our longest serving players played huge roles tonight and at our age it's really about the family and the community and seeing the kids’ making memories with us. Scotty Fyfe has had an unbelievable year so it was fitting that he should get the winner. Also, thanks to Football West and Stirling Macedonia for putting on such a professional and enjoyable event.”
In the early game Dianella White Eagles won the 2021 Belt Up Over 45s Cup Final, after a 4-1 win against Mindarie. Dianella were ahead on four minutes, former Perth Glory striker Branko Jelic was sent clear and he finished clinically past Lee Fletcher. They added a second on the hour, Jelic firing home superbly a free kick from 20 meters, before Sasa Garic added a third from close range on 81 minutes, after Jelic shot had crashed down off the crossbar. But two minutes later Jelic completed his hat-trick, sent through on goal and lobbing the oncoming Fletcher. Mindarie scored a consolation goal late with Darren Morris heading home Simon Turner’s cross from the left, but it was too little too late.
“It was hard fought win against very strong and physical side Mindarie,” Dianella’s Dragan Njegic said. “Full credit to the opposite side who never stopped playing till last referee’s whistle. As a captain of DWE, I have to thank Mindarie side on their fair play, referees who controlled the game from first to last whistle and of course supporters, they were great on the night. I also want to thank Football West and Macedonian club for organising and making this night so special. This event brought us back 10-15 years ago when we played semi pro and pro football. Also, it was great also for our friends and families here and overseas who can watch live streaming and I heard more than 1000 people were watching it live, so thanks to the people who organised this stream.”
NICOLAIDIS LEADS MURDOCH TO PROMOTION
Murdoch University Melville have won promotion to the State League Division One after a 4-1 aggregate win against Swan United at Francis Street on Saturday afternoon. The sides drew 1-1 in the first leg in midweek, but goals from Dion Berman (2) and Pat Sara, in a six-minute spell in the second half of the second leg secured the win and promotion for Taki Nicolaidis’ side and relegated Swan back to division Two. “Super, super happy for the club and the playing group,” Nicolaidis said. “With it still being a deadlock going into the last 45 minutes of the season the players really came out hungry to score three goals in quick succession, which ultimately won us the game and promotion. It’s been such a good season for the club having the number one ranked NPL junior, three trophies for the NPL women’s team and the men promoted into Division One.”
Skipper Mark Lucas echoed his coaches’ words and said its huge for the club. “It was an amazing day for all those involved at MUMFC winning promotion to Division One for the first time. We had a big contingent of Murdoch fans at the game and we can’t thank the supporters that we had over this game and all the play-off games enough,” he explained. “Overall, over the two legs I thought the best team won but condolences to Dan Evans and Swan as losing the final as we did two years ago is heartbreaking. The boys have worked so hard all season and have stayed together as a group which had paid off and the club is looking forward to what the challenge of Division One football will bring.”
It was a tight game with the host dominating early, but the visitors held firm and grew into the game, and were ahead on 54 minutes. Lucas sent Declan Tanna down the left, who burst into the box and crossed to Berman, who made no mistake from five meters. It was 2-0 three minutes later Sera was given far too much room in the middle of the park and his long-range shot bounce just in front of Nick Stone and went through the keepers’ hands. Amazingly it 3-0 moments later, Sara’s free kick was misjudged by Deng Mawien and the ball struck his arm of the defender and referee David Avison pointed straight to the spot. Berman stepped and scored from the resulting penalty, despite Stone getting a hand to it.
Two goal hero Berman said all their hard work during the season had paid off. “I thought we weathered the storm in the first 30 minutes, and we got into half time at 0-0. We didn’t panic, we always knew we could score one, and I think that positivity and the fact that we didn’t panic is what helped us put in a second half performance like we did,” the striker explained. “We couldn’t be prouder, it’s such an amazing feeling, and all that hard work throughout the year has paid off. Such a great club with excellent leadership in the squad, right through to the top. I’m certain Murdoch will do great things going forward.”
For Swan coach Dan Evans it wasn’t to be, but he said they will bounce back. “Certainly, the toughest day I have had as a Coach yesterday,” he said. “Firstly, congratulations to Murdoch University Melville Football Club who deservedly take our spot in division one next season. To all at Swan United FC thank you for your efforts throughout the season, unfortunately despite battling hard we weren’t able to avoid the drop. Swan is a proud club and I’m confident will return to division one in the near future. I’m very appreciative of all the support that I have had since accepting the role and I’m disappointed that I couldn’t help shape a better outcome on this occasion.”
Swan United: GK Nick STONE, 2 Boas MTWALE, 3 Montee KPORTO, 5 Chris MARSHALL, 6 Deng MAWIEN, 7 Alen PATAROV, 11 John MONTEROSSO, 12 Lucas ALLENDER, 13 Marco TRIMBOLI (9 David FOSTER 58’), 14 Brennan BORZECKI, 19 Deng DUT (17 Faustin MACHOCHI 80’) – Subs not used: RGK Connor ANDERSON, 4 Joe ROMEO, 8 Gosha FOTCHENKOV
Murdoch University Melville: GK Tom ALLAN, 4 Mark LUCAS, 6 Mitchell NORMAN, 7 Kai JONES, 8 Pat SARA, 10 Joshua CORTES (12 Thomas SPEZIALI 80’), 11 Dion BERMAN (5 Ben HOWE 80’), 15 Declan TANNA (9 Ben PELLIZZARI 82’), 14 Dylan URGUHART, 17 Pat QUINN (38 Joshua GARDNER 75’), 18 Daniel TAIT – Subs not used: 3 Taylor RAE – Referee: David Avison
WA STUN GLORY
The WA Gold Fields State side have beaten Perth Glory 1-0 in Saturday’s annual Gold Fields Challenge at Percy Doyle Reserve. The only goal of the game came seven minutes from time from Perth SC midfielder Kristian Santich, which came nine minutes after ECU Joondalup keeper Johnny Perkins had saved Giordano Colli’s penalty for WA. “It was a great experience for the State Team players, a great opportunity for them to show some very interesting qualities and potential,” WA Gold Fields State coach Cris Ola said. “The result was outstanding, but also the fact that the players showed great attitude and character until the last whistle.”
Ola selected a strong side for the game, while Glory coach Richard Garcia also had some big names in his starting eleven in their first real hit out of pre-season. He gave starts to returning recruits Brandon O’Neill and Jack Clisby and new signing Pacifique Niyongabire, while A-League regulars Jonathan Aspropotamitis, Andy Keogh, Darryl Lachman, Daniel Stynes and Luke Bodnar also started, while former striker Stefan Valentini was also a surprise starter.
It was a positive start from the WA side and Bojan Radinovic saw his flick palmed away be Cameron Cook early, before the Perth SC defender headed straight at the keeper again moments later. It was one-way traffic as WA continued to dictate terms, and Perth SC duo Calvin Whitney and Cameron Teece saw shots go wide. Glory’s first chance came on 16 minutes, O’Neill’s ball in from the left picked out Valentini at the back post, but his header was saved by Perth custodian Ryan Montgomery.
WA skipper Santich was a constant threat and after good work on the left he cut the ball the back to Whitney, who couldn’t keep his shot down. Glory then went close at the other end, Bodnar slipped Keogh in down the right, his low cross shot was well claimed by Montgomery. The best chance of the half fell to WA in the shadows of the break, Santich and Whitney combined to set up Teece, whose shot from the angle whistled inches past the far post.
There were a number of changes at the break as the game lost its shape slightly. Glory new recruit Niyongabire looked lively down the right and he raced into the box on the hour, but a great last-ditch tackle from Radinovic stopped the danger. The rain swept over ‘Windy Hill’ but it was Glory who went close on 72 minutes, Joseph Forde’s shot on the run saved by Perkins. Then two minutes later referee Matthew Southern pointed to the spot after WA defender Jordan Brown brough down Joshua Anasmo.
Colli stepped up to take the resulting penalty, but fired straight at Perkins who saved, and the keeper reacted well to save Ciaran Bramwell’s follow up shot. That gave WA a lift and Teece’s snap shot flashed wide of the target moments later, and on 83 minutes WA won it. Teece’s cross from the left was hit back across goal to Santich, and the WA skipper fired home from six meters. It was the first win for the WA side in the annual game since 2011.
“It was a great game with a lot of quality players showing what they can do. For me personally, it was brilliant to be picked to represent WA for my first time and I really enjoyed the experience,” Floreat Athena midfielder Sean McManus explained. “We had a training session together on Thursday night before the game and the boys gelled quickly. It was a good mix of young and experienced boys in the state team and we showed that today. We stuck together and played with confidence which ultimately got us the win. It was nice to lift the Gold Fields Cup at the end of the game too and a really good end to an enjoyable season for myself.”
Gold Fields WA State Squad: GK Ryan MONTGOMERY (RGK Johnny PERKINS 46’), 4 Chris SALDARIS (3 Jordan BROWN 46’), 5 Bojan RADINOVIC, 6 Calvin WHITNEY (14 Nick AMBROGIO 46’), 9 Jesse LAZZARO (18 Alex SILLA 64’), 10 Kosta SPARTA (15 Jon STYNES 64’), 11 Cameron TEECE, 17 Kristian SANTICH, 19 Michael DOMFEH (24 Ndumba MAKECHE 46’), 23 Sean MCMANUS (7 Steve SOKOL 64’), 25 Lachlan BYRD (16 Ollie ANNIS 64’) Subs not used: Nil
Perth Glory: GK Cameron COOK, 5 Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS (20 Jacob MUIR 62’), 10 Andy KEOGH (38 Ciaran BRAMWELL 62’), 13 Luke BODNAR (23 Joshua ANASMO 62’), 14 Jack CLISBY (6 Joseph FORDE 40’), 16 Brandon O’NEILL (26 Giordano COLLI 51’), 17 Stefan VALENTINI (21 Adam ZIMARINO 46’) (18 Lewis TUCKER 74’), 22 Josh RAWLINS (25 Aidan COYNE 68’), 24 Daniel STYNES (19 Chris O’DONNELL 62’), 29 Darryl LACHMAN (8 William FORMSTON 62’), 32 Pacifique NIYONGABIRE, (4 Jack ANDREWS 62’) - Subs not used: RGK Keegan GRANT – Referee: Matthew Southern
GLORY IN SENSATIONAL SWOOP FOR ENGLAND STRIKER STURRIDGE
Perth Glory have confirmed the signing of former Chelsea, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge for the 2021/22 season. The 32-year old is an English Premier League, two-time FA Cup and UEFA Champions League winner with Chelsea and also won a second Champions League title with Liverpool.
Sturridge is now relishing the prospect of beginning a new chapter in his illustrious career with Glory. "It’s a fantastic opportunity to try a new challenge," said Sturridge, a member of England’s 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championships squads and featured for Team Great Britain at the 2012 Olympic Games.
"When the opportunity came about (to join Glory), it felt like the right thing to do, to take my talent somewhere where I can enjoy my football in a competitive league and try and help the team be as successful as they possibly can be."
"I’m going to put my best foot forward, work hard and try and help the team win each game that comes by and then we’ll see where we end up when the season finishes. I can’t wait to play at HBF Park and hopefully put a smile on a lot of faces."
Glory chairman Tony Sage says Sturridge’s signing represents a huge statement of intent upon Glory’s behalf. "Daniel is undoubtedly one of the biggest signings not only in Glory’s history, but in the history of the A-League," sage commented.
"His arrival signals in no uncertain terms how determined we are to bring sustained success to the club and the lengths we will go to in order to achieve that goal. We know the elite-level quality Daniel will bring to the side and are hugely excited to see him wearing the famous purple this season."
Born in Birmingham, Sturridge played his youth football with Aston Villa, Coventry City and Manchester City, where he made his senior debut in 2007. Two years later he signed with Chelsea, playing 96 games and scoring 24 goals during his spell at Stamford Bridge.
In 2013 Sturridge moved to Liverpool and was named in the PFA Team of the Year at the end of his first full season at Anfield. He added another Champions League winner’s medal to his collection in 2019 while tallying up 160 games and 67 goals for the Reds.
Most recently, Sturridge had a spell in the Turkish top flight with Trabzonspor for whom he found the net seven times in 16 appearances. Between 2011 and 2017 he gained 26 caps for England, scoring 8 goals.
STATE LEAGUE INTER-DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF FINAL REVIEW/PREVIEW
It’s all to play for in the second leg of the State League Inter-Divisional Promotion Playoff final after Murdoch University Melville and Swan United drew 1-1 in the first leg at Wormall Civil Stadium at Murdoch Uni on Tuesday evening. It was the hosts who found the opener on 20 minutes, Pat Sara made space down the left, his deep cross found Dan Tait, whose first shot was blocked but the second he curled over Nick Stone. It looked like they take that lead to Francis Street for the second leg but deep into stoppage time the visitors levelled. A long throw by Oluwasijibomi Adeniyi was flicked on by Deng Mawien and John Monterosso pounced to power home from six meters.
MUM coach Taki Nicolaidis said it was a tight contest, and is expecting the same on Saturday. “I thought the draw was a fair result with both team having good chances throughout the game,” he said. “Disappointed that we conceded so late in the game giving them the away goal but we just need to go again on Saturday and do a bit better to get the required result to get promoted.” MUM skipper Ben Howe agreed with his coach the late goal conceded was a disappointment, but they are ready for the challenge at Francis Street on Saturday.
“I felt we controlled the tempo of the game pretty well last night, and we deservedly took the lead, and we were happy going into the break with that lead and our plan was to try not to concede and away goal and add one or two ourselves “But it wasn't to be with Swan pinching one in the 94th minute which was disappointing but overall were not to displeased with the 1-1 result,” he explained. “It's all to play for up at Swan on Saturday, and it's nice knowing that a win on the day will be enough for promotion and we will be giving it everything to achieve that as it has been our goal since Day 1 this season.”
Swan goalscorer John Monterosso said it was a good result, but they did have chances to win it. “It was a tight game and I thought we were unlucky not to go ahead early on but MUM are a very well coached side and they managed to go ahead against the run of play,” the striker said. “I thought we deserved the away goal to level it up, but its everything to play for in the final leg and we will recover well and go into the final game giving everything to get the job done.”
United Head Coach Dan Evans said the draw puts them in a good position, but he knows the job isn’t finished yet. Last night was a tough game, but we’re pleased with the result and are looking forward to getting the job done at home on Saturday,” he said. “We know that their home pitch can be a good home advantage so to come away with a 1-1 result leaves us in a good position for Saturday’s game.” Saturday’s game kicks off at 3.00pm at Francis Street, Middle Swan
AMATEUR CUP FINAL PREVIEW
It’s Amateur Cup weekend at Macedonia Park, with six Finals to be played on Friday evening and Sunday morning and afternoon. The big one is the Amateur Cup Final, which sees first division side South Perth United taking on Premier League side North Perth United on Sunday afternoon – kick off 4.45pm. It’s been a tough route to the final for both sides, firstly South Perth who edged past Emerald FC 2-1 with goals from Ben Godfrey and Jack Dalla Via. In round two they eased past division two side Mandurah City 7-1 with Dalla Via and John Philippidis both grabbing hat-tricks. In round three they hit the road and beat division three side Perth AFC 2-0 at Len Packham Reserve, which set up a quarter-final against Premier League side Leeming Strikers. Leeming were ahead early, but that was as good as it got, with Dalla Via scoring another hat-trick to steer them home 4-1. In the semi-final they took on division two and surprise package Maccabi, but a brace from George Stephens saw them win 4-0.
South Perth finished fourth in division one this season, and coach Lee Hayward said that was about right, from their pre-season expectations. “At the beginning of the season myself and club agreed that a Top Four finish and a good cup run should be the target for the year, with the quality of teams in Division One we felt that was a realistic expectation,” he explained. “Midway through the season promotion looked a possibility, however results didn’t go our way over the second half of the season due to multiple reasons and any hope of promotion slipped away moving into the last few rounds. I guess looking back at the season I would say I was pleased but not satisfied as we lost or drew games, which should have been put to bed by half time.”
The win against Leeming was the highlight of their cup run, and as a former Leeming player, it was also nice for Haywood. “The cup run has been good, as we wanted a good run in the cup but to make the final has been great. The win over Leeming was a highlight for sure, I played for Leeming previously and I also had many battles in both the State and Amateur leagues with David Palin, so it was good to get the win over him and some of my former teammates,” Haywood said. “Before the Leeming game I was very relaxed and told the lads to just go out and enjoy the game, being underdogs took all the pressure of off us and we just went out and enjoyed the moment. I was more nervous for the Maccabi game in the semi-final, but again the boys went out and put in another strong performance.”
Haywood said Sunday is huge for the club, who have struggled in recent seasons, but he knows his players will be up for it. “The final this week is a massive game for the club, Souths have struggled over the years, so there is a bit of a buzz throughout the whole club for the game,” the coach explained. “North Perth United have been one of the best teams in the Amateur Premier league now for many years so they will be expected to win. From mine and the players perspective we will approach it a bit like the Leeming game. Being the underdog, we have nothing to lose really, if we play with the same level of intensity as we did against Leeming and Maccabi, it will be a very interesting game.”
North Perth started their run at division three side Baldivis and came home with a comfortable 5-2 win with five different scorers. They were on the road again in round two, with a trip to Kingsway Reserve to meet division two side Olympic Kingsway. They were made to fight for the win after going behind early, but goals from Scott Campbell, Simon El Chami and Robert Faulkner saw them run out 3-1 winners. It was an all-Premier League tie in round three, and goals from skipper Kelechi Osunwa and David Byrne saw United beat Quinns 2-0 at Gumblossom Park. They then took on division one side Ellenbrook United and a brace from Scott Wrightson helped them run out 4-1 winners. That win set up a semi-final tie against fellow Premier League side Wembley Downs, and goals from Wrightson, Alex Corner, Ben Cooper and Andy O’Neill saw them progress with a 4-2 win.
North Perth finished fifth in the Premier League, but coach Luke O’Neill said although it wasn’t where he wanted to finish, they can take positives out of the season. “It’s been a long season, we were a little disappointed in our league performances with consistency, some games where we played very well and came away with nothing,” he explained. “We will reflect and look where we can improve after this week’s game, we have finished fifth in the league, two cup finals and got into the last 16 of the FFA Cup (WA), so there are some positives this season.”
It will be a massive day for the club this weekend with all three United clubs playing in the cup final, with the Metro Cup and Reserves Cup also in action on the day. O’Neill it’s a great reward for all the hard work put in at the club. “All three teams at the club will be playing on the day which is a massive achievement for the club, full credit to Jack Clarke-O’Reilly (Metros Prem), Chris Batten and Kevin Flavin (Reserves) for all their hard work,” he said. “For us it’s been a good distraction with the disappointment with how the league went, we have had a massive overhaul of players since myself and Kevin Mulgrew took over so we really appreciate all the players hard work in getting to the final.”
O’Neill said South Perth have impressed in the cup this season and beat Lemming in the quarterfinals, so he is expecting a tough game, but knows his players are looking forward to it. “We know South Perth will be right up for it, they have had an excellent season and have had some very good performances in the cup,” the coach said. “As a club we are 100% looking forward to it, let’s see what happens on Sunday.”
The games begin on Friday evening at Macedonia Park when Dianella White Eagles meet Mindarie in the Over 45s Cup Final (6.00pm), while Forrestfield United take on Hillarys in the Masters Cup Final (8.15pm) On Sunday morning at the same venue Perth SC play North Perth United in the Metro Cup (10.00am), then Baldivis Districts and Fremantle City meet in the Women’s Metro Cup (12.15pm). The Amateur Reserves Cup Final is next up with Maccabi and North Perth United doing battle at 2.30pm, while the main event, the Amateur Cup final starts at 4.45pm. Also, during half-time of each game, there will be presentations to the individual winners from those competitions from across the 2021 season.
OLYMPIC TOO STRONG FOR ECU IN FFA CUP
ECU Joondalup have bowed out of the FFA Cup after. 0-3 loss against South Australian NPL side Adelaide Olympic in their round of 32 tie at Dorrien Gardens on Wednesday evening. The visitors bagged three goals in the final 20 minutes to reach the round of 16, Christos Pounendis giving them the lead, before Fausto Erba added a second and a penalty from second half substitute Ioannis Simosis secured the win. Olympic striker Erba scored one of the goals of the competition with a deft chip that doubled their lead, and he said it was a great performance from everyone.
“We are very happy for this win and the way that we played, considering that we had to travel all day since the early morning and try to be physically at our best for the night game, which it could be a disadvantage,” Erba explained. “We did our usual high press and it worked well, we also finished with couple amazing goals, so we are very proud for the achievement of making the Round of 16 again. We also want thank the club ecu Joondalup for the hospitality they gave to us and wish them good luck for the future.”
On the other hand, ECU striker Ellis Healing, said it wasn’t to be on the night. “It was a very tough game, Olympic started extremely quick and pressed us hard for the first 15 minutes, I felt after that we started to get on top all be it extremely difficult to keep the ball and create chances on a pitch that bad,” Jacks striker Ellis Healing explained. “I had a decent attempt in the second half that went narrowly wide, which could have swung the momentum in our favour but it wasn’t meant to be, Olympic got three goals on the night and were well deserved winners. In a nice touch, I got to wear the number 7 in honour of Danny Hodgson, who I think if we had on the night could have been the all-important difference.”
It was a tough night for the ECU players, who all wore DH7 tee shirts before the game, their thought obviously with team mate and friend Danny Hodgson, who is still in hospital after the unprovoked attack in Perth three weeks ago. Danny’s parents, Nicole and Peter were also in attendance, while 50% of the gate going to the #DH7 fund. Stay strong Danny!!!
The rain stayed away for kick off, and it was Olympic who started the brighter and Paul Wilson headed over the top from Kristin Konstandopoulos’ corner. Moments later Michael Cittadini was sent in on goal, but Jacks keeper Johnny Perkins stood tall and the midfielder fired wide of the target.
The Jacks custodian came to his sides rescue again on 18 minutes, this time saving Jason Konstandopoulos’ shot after the lively striker cut in from the left. The hosts settled and started to get a foot hold on the game and Ellis Healing saw his free kick fly over the top. Moments later Chris Harold made space down the left and his cross from the bye line was cleared well by a defender, with add lam Hughes ready to pounce at the back post.
Both sides had late chances, first Jason Konstandopoulos saw his shot from the edge of the box deflected just wide, before the Jacks had their best chance on the shadows of the break. Tommy Amphlett raced down the left, cut inside his marker before squaring the ball to Healing on the edge of the penalty area, but his shot on the run flashed inches wide of the post. But at the break it was 0-0 and all to play for.
Like the first half Olympic were on the front foot early and Tito Bontor found the overlapping Kody Maude eight minutes in, but his shot on the run was saved by Perkins. Healing then saw another free kick miss the target, while the visitors had a penalty shout turned down by referee Matthew Southern, after Simosis was bundled over after getting a shot in on goal. The Jacks went close on the hour, Healing was given far too much room and his curling effort whistled inches past the post. Olympic were starting to turn the screws and Jason Konstandopoulos’ snap shot flashed over the top, before Perkins got down well to save Cittadini’s shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Their pressure was rewarded with the opener on 70 minutes. Panagiotis Mani’s corner wasn’t dealt with and Simosis scuffed the first effort but Pounendis swept the second one home. The Jacks looked for a quick response, but Jakub Prajza’s shot was straight at Olympic keeper Jason Kavenagh, but on 78 minutes it was Olympic who doubled their advantage. A ball into the box by Cittadini found Erba at the back post, and the clubs top goal scorer curled home superbly past Perkins, via be post. They added a third late when Cittadini was sent clear by Simosis, and he was brought down Perkins and the referee pointed straight to the spot and booked the Jacks keeper. Simosis stepped up and found the bottom corner to seal the win.
ECU Joondalup: GK: Johnny Perkins, 3 Nelson TSHONGO, 4 Declan HUGHES, 5 Ryan LOWRY, 6 Sam RIAK, 7 Ellis HEALING (10 Sean O'CONNOR 90'), 8 Thomas HOUGH (2 Oscar MALFIORE 75'), 11 Chris HAROLD, 12 Jakub PRAJZA, 13 Thomas AMPHLETT (15 Jason PETRIE 66'), 16 Shane CASSIDY - Subs not used: RGK: Joseph POLLARD, 9 Sonny HENNESSEY-O'SHEA, 17 Oliver MAKIN, 18 Danny DOUGLAS - Yellow Cards: Perkins 86’, Hughes 92’
Adelaide Olympic: GK: Joshua KAVANEGH, 3 Paul WILSON, 5 Michael CITTADINI (4 Ross HARKOTSIKAS 92'), 6 Kristin KONSTANDOPOULOS (2 Jacob JONES 92'), 7 Kody MAUDE, 8 Jason KONSTANDOPOULOS (13 Konstantinos STYLIADIS 92'), 9 Christos POUNEDIS, 10 Hirofumi KOCHI, 11 Tito BONTOR (44 Ioannis SIMOSIS 58'), 14 Fausto ERBA (25 Alexander TSIMOPOULOS 94’), 24. Panagiotis MANI - Subs not used: RGK: Samuel DWEH - Yellow Cards: Mani 24’, Pounendis 84' - Referee: Matthew Southern
WA GOLD FIELDS STATE TEAM TAKE ON PERTH GLORY ON SATURDAY
With the NPLWA season finishing three weeks ago, the WA State team has been selected for 2021 and they are in action this weekend, when they take on Perth Glory on Saturday in the annual Gold Fields Challenge at Percy Doyle Reserve, the home of Sorrento. Football West’s Gold Fields Men’s WA State Team have had some success in recent seasons against their A-League counterparts and Head coach Cris Ola has selected a strong side for the game.
They will be without players from Floreat Athena and ECU Joondalup who were in FFA Cup action this week. The match is at 3pm and will be live streamed on Football West channels. Champions Perth SC provide eight players in the 19-player squad, with Sorrento and Bayswater City having three each, with the others coming from Gwelup Croatia (2), Balcatta, Cockburn and Inglewood United. Ola will be joined by Garry Church and Fernando Barreiro in the coaching department, while Alex Novatsis is team manager. Gold Fields is a key Football West partner and the name sponsor of all the State teams.
It's never easy to get a new group together so quickly for these sorts of games, but Ola said it’s an honour to represent the state and he said the squad assembled is good. “Yes, the State Team should get together with the better WA NPL players every year, however there are always issues we have to face,” he explained. “We have managed to invite three players from Floreat (after their FFA Cup run ended) and one from ECU, in similar situation. We have a good playing group with a majority of players from Perth SC, but with a number of players from other NPL clubs who did very well during the recently ended season. Working with Fernando Bareiro (Assistant) and Michele Mestieri (Keeper coach) was very good, although we only had limited time to train together as a squad.”
The NPL players always like to take on their A-League counterparts, and they have had some success in recent years, and Ola said the players are looking forward to the challenge on Saturday. “Always the challenge to play Perth Glory is motivating the State players, and I’m sure that is going to be no difference this year,” he explained. “Although each team comes at different times to the game, Glory in their pre-season, while the State team at the end of the NPL season, I’m sure there will be an interesting and competitive challenge. Also, the hope that some of the State players will put in a strong display, to be of potential interest from Glory or other A-League clubs.” Saturday’s game kicks off at 3.00pm at Percy Doyle Reserve, Duncraig.
Gold Fields WA State squad: GK Ryan Montgomery (Perth SC), GK Liam Driscoll (Bayswater City), Jordan Brown (Sorrento), Calum O’Connell (Balcatta), Bojan Radinovic (Perth SC), Steve Sokol (Inglewood), Calvin Whitney (Perth SC), Jesse Lazzaro (Cockburn City), Kostantinos Sparta (Bayswater City), Cameron Teece (Perth SC), Ndumba Makeche (Bayswater City), Michael Domfeh (Perth SC), Scott Witschge (Sorrento), Jon Stynes (Gwelup Croatia), Kristian Santich (Perth SC), Chris Jackson (Sorrento), Alex Silla (Perth SC), Sam Mitchinson (Gwelup Croatia), Lachlan Byrd (Perth SC)
NATIONAL COMPETITIONS REBRANDED AS A-LEAGUES
Australia’s top-flight men’s and women’s football competitions will both be known as the A-League as part of the sport’s domestic rebranding. In a move to further solidify football’s claim of being Australia’s most inclusive sport, the new A-Leagues brand will unite men’s, women’s and youth leagues under the one banner with the three competitions known as A-League Men, A-League Women and A-League Youth.
“It’s no longer men’s football, or women’s football, it’s just football,” Australian Professional Leagues managing director Danny Townsend said. “We’re committed to growing the game in Australia – for everyone. That means delivering a world-class experience on and off the pitch, and inspiring the next generation of A-Leagues superstars to fulfil their highest potential.”
The A-Leagues brand is “aimed at a more equitable approach and tapping into the country’s youngest and most diverse fan base”. The A-Leagues will move to unified social media channels for men’s and women’s football, and launch a new website. The A-League men’s competition is scheduled to kick off on November 19, while the A-League women’s competition will start on December 3.
GLORY LEFT IN CUP LIMBO
Perth Glory have been left in limbo over their future in the FFA Cup, seven weeks after the qualifying clash with Melbourne Victory was postponed. If and when the game is re-scheduled, it could lead to a fixture pile-up for Glory with border closures already throwing the knock-out competition and A-League fixtures into disarray.
“We are looking at the A-League schedule and what that looks for like Perth,” said a Football Australia spokesman. “We are also potentially looking at the options of playing that (qualifier) outside of Perth if we have the ability. We are mindful of when the A-League kicks off that clubs will want to have this game completed.”
Football Australia are scrambling to keep the national Cup competition going, announcing changes to the draw to “combat further disruption from lockdowns and border closures around the country”. With one Round of 32 game remaining, they have broken the next round into zones with teams from Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia in one group.
ECU JOONDALUP V ADELAIDE OLYMPIC FFA CUP PREVIEW
ECU Joondalup will be flying the flag for WA football on Wednesday evening when they host South Australia’s cup holders Adelaide Olympic at Dorrien Gardens. (6.00pm) The FFA Cup has become the most popular event on the football calendar in recent years, as it pits the A-League sides against state representatives, with many upsets over the years. Over 760 teams entered this season’s competition and we down to the final 32, and the Jacks will be looking to become the second WA NPL side to reach the round of 16.
It’s been a tough three weeks for Kenny Lowe and the players, with their teammate Danny Hodgson still in hospital after an unprovoked attack at the Perth railway station. But they will all be ‘Doing it for Danny’ in Wednesday’s big cup tie, and defender Ryan Lowry said it’s been hard. “As his teammates and a club, we just want Danny to be back healthy,” he explained. “He’s a really popular mate in our squad so were just all behind him and supporting him as much as we can, and a win on Wednesday would be for Danny.”
Lowry, who returned to the Campus from Wellington Phoenix this season, said the players are looking forward to the game, and showing the country what they are made of. “It’s great for ECU to get this kind of exposure at senior level, we’ve always had an exceptional junior set-up, and now we’re seeing the seniors doing well also,” the defender said. “We don’t know too much about the opposition, but we’re just focused on us and looking forward to the game. I’m sure the boys are excited for the game, and it would be nice to progress and test ourselves against a higher level, but we know Adelaide will be right up for the game Wednesday so we can’t look past them.”
Midfielder Declan Hughes also had a glimpse of professional football, playing for Perth Glory in the Asian Champions League games earlier this year, after a stint in Scotland with Ross County. Like Lowry, the midfielder said the news of Danny, hit the squad hard, but he said they need to put that aside for 90 minutes on Wednesday night, but he knows it will be tough. “We have all been hit hard and it’s been really tough few weeks with what’s happened to Danny, and I know that it’s definitely affected everyone who’s involved at ECU and all our support is with Danny and his family,” Hughes explained.
“We need to put the emotion to one side on Wednesday and try get a result that would be huge for the club. I know all the players are really looking forward to this game. I think we’ve got a great chance of winning and progressing through to the last 16. It would be great for the whole club if we progress and face an A-League team. It would be a great challenge for the players and I’m sure we’d all be buzzing if we get that chance, but we have to get past Olympic first, which will be tough game.”
The Jacks entered the West Australian stage in round three when they hosted Division One side Fremantle City at the Campus and won 3-0, with a second half brace from Daryl Nicol and another to Danny Hodgson. In the next round they travelled to Kingsway Reserve to take on another Division One side, Olympic Kingsway, and returned with an 8-0 win. It was a dominate performance from the Jacks, with Hodgson bagging a hat-trick, Nicol a double and others to Chris Harold, Jason Petrie and Declan Hughes.
In the quarter finals we travelled to fellow NPLWA side Bayswater City, and came home from Frank Drago Reserve with a 2-0 win. Hodgson opened the scoring just after half time, and Nelson Tshongo wrapped up the tie 19 minutes from time. That set up a semi-final against local rivals Sorrento at Percy Doyle Reserve, and a goal from Hodgson secured a 1-0 win and place in the round of 32 for the first time. In the WA Final the Jacks were edged out 1-0 by Floreat Athena, with Kyle Murray scoring the only goal.
Olympic, who had a bye in the first round in the South Australian stage of the competition, and had a hard fought 1-0 home win against Adelaide University in round two, with Jason Konstandopoulos on target. In round three they made the trip to West Beach Parks Football Centre to take on Fulham United, and returned with a 3-1 win, with goals from Tito Bontor, Jacob Jones and Christos Pounendis. In round four they hosted fellow Premier League side Croydon Kings and won 2-0, with IIoannis Simosis bagging a brace to set up a Semi-Final with another Premier League side Cambelltown City. It was another tight game at the Velo Football Centre, but Olympic prevailed 1-0, with Michael Cittadini scoring the only goal and to qualify for the round of 32.
In the final they hosted Adelaide City, and won 2-1. The visitors took the lead just before the hour, but Jason Konstandopoulos levelled before top goalscorer Fausto Erba won it three minutes from time. They played their final game of the RAA National Premier League SA 2021 season two weeks ago, and were beaten 3-2 against Adelaide Comets at the SA Athletics Stadium, the win giving the Comets the title, and seeing Olympic finish seventh. Fausto Erba is the top goalscorer for the club, bagging 12 goals this season in the league, while Michael Cittadini and Ioannis Simosis both scored five. Tickets for the game can be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com.au/
MATILDAS ICON DE VANNA SET TO RETIRE
Lisa De Vanna's football career appears to be at an end with Melbourne Victory confirming there are no plans for the Matildas legend to return for the 2021/22 W-League. It comes just days after ESPN aired an in-depth interview with Fremantle-born De Vanna in which she stated she was walking away from football.
De Vanna spoke with ESPN of the trials and tribulations of the end of her Matildas career. Australia's second most capped player with 150 appearances and outings at four World Cups, the 36-year old last donned Matildas colours at the 2019 Women's World Cup against Jamaica.
"When I think about the 2007 World Cup, I think of something new," De Vanna recalls. "When I think about 2011, I think about a new generation that's coming. When I think of the 2015 World Cup, I think about a new brand of football. And when I think about 2019, I think about the downfall of my career."
De Vanna was cut by then Matildas coach Ante Milicic, something she learned of via Zoom while playing for Italian side Fiorentina. There were hopes of a return with last years appointment of Tony Gustavsson, however, he has omitted De Vanna from his squads, including that for the 2020 Olympics Games.
De Vanna was disappointment of this rejection, despite fulfilling what she and Gustavsson had discussed as necessary during the last W-League season for a call up. The striker spent 2020/21 with Melbourne Victory, featuring in twelve matches and scoring three goals.
"Personally, I don't think I earned the right to go to the Olympic Games," De Vanna admitted. "But I at least should have been in that camp. I just think I'm at the point where I can't recover from what I've been through. It's very hard to put that jersey on when you don't have the support or you don't feel like you're respected.
"They've made it a lot easier for me to walk away. At this stage of my life, I don't want to... It's more like: 'How did this f---ing happen to me?' ... everything, the way I thought it would end, it didn't. I'm just struggling to deal with it. I can't look at a football right now. I can't even walk my dog on a field."
"My biggest fear was I'd get forgotten in the game and not looked after. That scared me. If I knew how it would have ended 20 years ago, I wouldn't have went down those 20 years. I just want to be free as a person, like closure. Like time to make it better. I don't know. I'm heartbroken."
BELT UP AMATEUR LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION - ROUND SEVEN CATCH UP REVIEW
South West Phoenix have won the 2021 Belt-Up Premier Division title after a hard fought 1-0 win against Kwinana United at the Onside Sports Stadium in Bunbury on Saturday evening. “Kwinana took the game to us as we expected, even losing an early man to a red they still piled on the pressure,” Phoenix coach Nick Carter said. “But we did what we’ve done all year, we stayed patient and got our rewards. I’m so proud of this playing group and what they achieved.”
The only goal of the game came five minutes before half time, Lydon Hodgkiss cutting in from the right and firing into the top corner, to set off wild celebrations in the crowd. The visitors were then reduced to ten men after Jake Fallows received a second yellow card from referee Albert Muyembe. Kwinana looked for an equaliser after the break to spoil the party but the Phoenix held firm to clinch the title and promotion to the State League next season. Phoenix also ended the game with ten men when Rory Binnie was shown a second yellow card ten minutes from time.
Phoenix skipper Jamie Oakey said it was a great way to celebrate their 20th anniversary, but they were made to work for it. “It was a good win in the end, we rode our luck early and then Lydon scores another belter to help settle the nerves,” he explained. “Kwinana are a good team and they came down and made it hard for us even with 10 men. But as we have all season, we’ve managed to grind it out and get the three points. “It was our objective at the start of the season to get back into the state league, and credit to Maddington they pushed us all the way to the last round. It’s a tough league to get out of, so to be able to do it with the bunch of lads we’ve got down here in our 20th year is something special for the club. And credit has to go to all the coaching staff, committee, sponsors and everyone else behind the scenes for all their efforts this year, without it we wouldn’t be where we are.”
Maddington White City’s title hopes were dashed on Saturday evening, and they ended the season with a 3-2 defeat against Quinns at Gumblossom Park. The hosts were ahead on the half hour, with Liam McManus on target. But City hit back in the first minute of the second half, Samir Ramos scoring his 18th goal of the season. But the league's top goal scorer Ryan McCready bagged his 27th goal of the season to regain the lead for Quinns. But Maddington top scorer Jose Zuniga scored his 21st goal of the season to restore parity. It looked like the points would be shared but five minutes from time Connor McCready popped up to seal the win.
North Perth United finished in fifth spot after a 2-1 win against UWA Nedlands at the UWA Sports Park. David Houston gave the visitors the lead early, but M Dominguez Piccinini levelled for the home side before the break. But early in the second half Houston converted from the spot to give North Perth the three points. “It’s been an inconsistent season for us but to end with a win was a positive,” North Perth coach Luke O’Neill said. “It definitely had that end of season feel.
Queens Park ended their season with a 3-0 win against Jaguar at Coker Park. Lindon Bridger opened the scoring on the hour, before Kenny Young doubled their advantage ten minutes from time. The points were wrapped up two minutes from time with Justine Kaupa adding a third with a great volley. “It was great to finish off with a win against a technically good Jags team,” Queens Park coach Ricardo Fynn said. “We felt we controlled the game from start to finish and had three well taken goals from our front three. It was also great to see the back four recording a clean sheet after playing three midfielders in there after season ending injuries for three of the back four. It’s been a very difficult season but we always knew we had the quality to complete in this league, so glad this season is over and now we can rest and recalibrate for a good 2022 season.”
In other games Leeming Strikers and Wembley Downs have fought out a 1-1 draw at John Connell Reserve. Cameron Anderson gave the Strikers the lead on 32 minutes, but Wembley hit back to take a share of the spoils eight minutes later with Matthew Devereux on target. Relegated side Joondalup United and Hamersley Rovers met at Beldon Park, with the hosts running out 3-0 winners, with goals from Adam Giannasi, Andreas Bouzinekis and an own goal. Joondalup coach Neil Sherwin said it was way to end the season. “It was nice to finish with a win and a clean sheet. We had a lot of lads away for the long weekend so it gave a chance to some of our reserves players to be in the first team squad and everyone put in a good shift. We scored some nice goals and should’ve had a few more too,” he explained.
“We’re very disappointed with how the season played out and didn’t give the best account of ourselves but now the focus has already turned to getting back to the top division as soon as possible. The Amateur Premier League is an excellent competition and congratulations to South West Phoenix for taking out the title. The Bunbury trip will be missed next year!” Everyone at Footballwa.net would like to thank all players, coaches and club officials for their assistance over the season.
STATE LEAGUE INTER-DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF SEMI-FINAL SECOND LEG REVIEW
Swan United will take on Murdoch University Melville in the State League Inter-Divisional Promotion Playoff Final, after both teams progressed narrowly in this weekend’s semi-finals. First on Friday evening Gosnells City needed to overturn a 0-2 deficit from the first leg against MUM and they made a great start and were ahead on 21 minutes with Aaron Coslani scoring, and the tie was all square nine minutes later with Eddie Wynne-Willson on target. But eight minutes later MUM pulled one back, Dion Berman got played in over the top and he chipped the oncoming Gosnells keeper Duncan Lennon-Black.
But Gosnells hit back and were back in front in the shadows of half time, with the unfortunate Kai Jones putting the ball into his own net, sending the hosts into the break with a 3-1 lead. But Berman was at it again on the hour, Jones shot was saved by Lennon-Black and the MUM midfielder pounced on the rebound to fire home. Then three minutes later Berman completed his hat-trick, referee Liam Barclay spotting a foul on Joshua Cortes, and Berman converted the resulting penalty.
Gosnells weren’t finished and regained the lead in the game ten minutes from time, with Dylan White scoring, but they couldn’t find anymore and it was MUM moving through to the final next week. “The first 30 minutes we were all over the show I thought as we struggled to settle into the game, it might have been nerves but credit to Gosnells who came out and put us under immense pressure,” Berman explained. “Credit to the boys who came out in the second half and showed why we are a very good side, and we’re looking forward to our biggest challenge yet in the final.”
“I’m super proud of our playing group for getting past a very good Gosnells side,” MUM coach Taki Nicolaidis said. “After our 2-0 home win in the first leg, Marc Anthony’s side really came at us in the first half of the second leg and whilst we were extremely disappointing our boys did show great character to claw their way back with two more away goals which ultimately gave us the edge in the tie. Now we have a few days to prepare for our next challenge against an in-form Swan.”
In the second semi-final Swan United held a 3-2 lead from the first leg at Kingsley Westside, but it was the visitors who struck first in this one, on 15 minutes. Bailey Salmon’s corner was headed back across goal by Simone Sichel and Ryan Williams scored from close-range at the back post. But Swan levelled on 55 minutes, Brennan Borzecki’s flick was headed home at the near post by John Monterosso. “It wasn’t our best performance, but over two legs but we got the job done which is all that matters,” Monterosso said. “We know we will need to lift against MUM and confident we can lift another level.”
Kingsley Westside coach Steven Dimitrovich said his side gave it their all, but couldn’t get the result. “Really proud of the boys for the way they fought the game out yesterday,” he said. “I thought we deserved more than we got over the two legs, but their state league experience probably got them the right result over the two legs. Good luck to Swan and MUM in the final.”
Swan defender Chris Marshall said they had to work for the win, and he is expecting more of the same against MUM in the final. “It was a really hard-fought tie over both legs, it was a great to get the result away from home on Tuesday, and then put together a strong second half on Saturday to secure our spot,” he said. “Murdoch will be a really tough match up and we are taking nothing for granted. MUM have had some great results recently, but we have found some decent form of late ourselves and we have belief that of we can perform at our best it is enough to retain our spot in the first division.”
ATHENA PUSH ADELAIDE UNITED ALL THE WAY IN FFA CUP
Floreat Athena have put in a great performance in Sunday’s FFA Cup round of 32 against Adelaide United, before eventually losing 3-1 after extra-time. Louis D'Arrigo had given the A-League side the lead at the break, but Chris Saldaris levelled for the hosts just before the hour. But in extra time George Blackwood converted from the spot, before Yaya Dukuly secured the win, to send the holders through, but they were made to earn it against a gutsy Floreat performance.
There had been storms around the Perth CBD all morning, but the rain clouds lifted at kick off, and a big crowd was on hand at E&D Litis Stadium. It was the visitors who opened the brighter, and Mohamed Toure’s header was saved by Thomas Chudy, before Ben Halloran headed over the top from Javi Lopez’s cross. But on 18 minutes their early pressure was rewarded with the lead. Lopez’s cross picked out D’Arrigo, who got in between two Floreat defenders to head home.
The Reds were in again four minutes later, Halloran finding Bernardo Oliveira, his shot was well saved by Chudy, before Oliveira’s shot on the run was beaten away by the busy Floreat custodian. Then on 26 minutes Floreat broke away, with Robert Harding racing clear, but he was brought down by Adelaide defender George Timotheou on the edge of the box, and he was the last man and it looked like the defender was in trouble, but referee Adam Fielding only gave him a yellow card.
That no decisions seemed to lift the hosts, and Sean McManus and Harding were giving the Reds defence all sorts of problems. But Adelaide almost added a second on 37 minutes, a short corner caught Floreat napping and Oliveira shot was turned around the post by Chudy. Floreat ended the half well and Saldaris headed wide at the back post, before Andrew Palmer’s corner found Saldaris, but he headed straight at James Delianov, but at the break Adelaide lead by the only goal.
Floreat almost levelled early in the second half, a mistake by Delianov saw him pass straight to Nick Ambrogio, but the strikers first time shot rolled agonizingly wide. Isaias then tested Chudy, who saved well, before Toure cut the ball back to D’Arrigo, whose shot flashed just wide. But on 56 minutes it was the hosts who levelled. A ball into the box was only cleared to Saldaris on the edge of the box, he cut inside his marker and found the bottom corner with a low shot, much to the delight of the big crowd. Adelaide looked for a quick response, Joshua Cavallo’s cross found Mohamed Toure, whose header crashed off the crossbar and cleared.
Skipper Ludovic Boi then saw a free kick fly over the top, before George Festa saw a shot blocked after Adelaide didn’t deal with a long-throw from Phil Arnold. Chances were now coming thick and fast, Boi’s shot on the run was saved low by Delianov, before Dukuly’s shot was beaten away by Chudy. McManus was everywhere, and he burst into the box seven minutes from time, but Delianov was out bravely to save at his feet. Both sides had chances late, Blackwood raced into goal, but Festa got back with a superb last-ditch tackle, before Ambrogio’s ricochet shot flashed just wide, but it was 1-1 and off to extra time.
It was Adelaide who made the best possible start, when Dennis Galan brought down Halloran in the opening minute, and the referee pointed straight to the spot. Blackwood stepped up and sent Chudy the wrong way from the resulting penalty. But Floreat weren’t out of it and went close to levelling nine minutes later. Saldaris cross found Arnold, who cut inside the penalty area, but his shot was deflected inches wide by Timotheou. But on 102 minutes Adelaide added a third. Mohamed Toure and Dukuly combined, the latter firing through a crowd of players to score, and celebrated acrobatically. Floreat pressed late and Delianov produced two good saves to deny McManus and Laat Mathiang but Adelaide held firm to move in to the next round.
Floreat Athena: GK Thomas CHUDY, 2 Marco SANTALUCIA (4 Ben STEELE 82’), 8 Sean MCMANUS, 9 Robert HARDING (21 Ethan MOM 90’), 10 Nick AMBROGIO (6 Jesse FULLER 97’), 11 Dennis GALAN, 13 George FESTA, 14 Ludovic BOI (3 Laat MATHIANG 105’), 15 Chris SALDARIS, 18 Phil ARNOLD (19 Robert FERRANTE 117’), 20 Andrew PALMER, - Subs not used: RGK Theodore SARRIS
Adelaude United: GK James DELIANOV, 3 George TIMOTHEOU, 6 Louis D'ARRIGO, 7 Ryan KITTO (14 George BLACKWOOD 74’) (55 Ethan ALAGICH 112’), 10 ISAIAS, 17 Mohamed TOURE (35 Al Hassan TOURE 102’), 21 Javi LOPEZ (44 Arbi MOLLAS 118’), 23 Jacob TRATT, 26 Ben HALLORAN, 27 Joshua CAVALLO, 31 Bernardo OLIVEIRA (19 Yaya DUKULY 74’) – Subs not used: RGK Dakota OCHSENHAM, 37 Jonny YULL - Referee: Adam FIELDING
STATE LEAGUE INTER-DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF SEMI-FINAL REVIEW/PREVIEW
A place in the State League inter-divisional playoff final will be decided this weekend with the second legs of the semi-finals taking place. In the first legs on Tuesday evening Swan United and Murdoch University Melville hold narrow advantages, after two tight games. Firstly, at Chichester Park, Swan left with a 3-2 win against hosts Kingsley Westside. It was the visitors who made the break through on 14 minutes, Lucas Allender cut the ball back to Alex Young, who flicked the ball home at the near post.
But Kingsley were level seven minutes later, with Darren O Riordan scoring, and they hit the front moments later with skipper Jayden Drummond on target. The black and whites were level in the shadows of half time, Young saw his shot deflect to John Monterosso, who inched past his marker to fire home. The home side dominated the second half but couldn’t find a way past tight Swan defence, and it looked like both sides would go into the second leg level, but in the final minute it was Swan who won it. Young was the supplier again, this time he sent Monterosso behind the Kingsley defence, who beat his marker and finished clinically into the top corner. “It was a good win playing against a tricky Kingsley side who had the better of the second half,” Monterosso said. “We go into second leg with a narrow advantage but knowing it’s still all to play for. We’ve been in this situation over the last few seasons and know the job isn’t done yet and we will regroup and see where we can improve.”
Kingsley coach Steven Dimitrovich thought they deserved more from the tie, but knows it’s not over yet. “Really frustrated with Tuesday night result where I felt we deserved more than we got but that’s football for you and fair play to Swan didn’t give up till the end and got the 3-2 win,” he explained. “We turned our focus to Saturday straight after Tuesday night game as it’s only half time. We will go there with an all or nothing attitude and leave everything out there on the park in our search for the two-goal win, we will need.”
In the second semi-final first leg at Wormall Civil Stadium at Murdoch University, MUM hold a two-goal lead against Gosnells City. The hosts were ahead on 20 minutes, when Dan Tait’s 18-meter shot found the bottom corner of the net. They added a second on the half hour mark to seal the tie, Pat Quinn’s corner was finished by Dylan Urquhart. “It was a really strong performance but it’s only half time. We took our chances, and defended really solidly when we had to. The important thing for us which I thought we did really well was not giving them an away goal,” MUM midfielder Dion Berman said. “We know it’s a really tough place to go and play. They have been really strong there all season. We have to recover well, and then go out and do the job. Looking forward to a big game in front of hopefully a decent crowd.”
Gosnell’s skipper Scott Pereira said they will look to bounce back on Friday. “Tuesday was a big game for us as we wanted to try get a good lead going into Friday. I thought Murdoch wanted it more than us in the first half and we just were second to every ball and nothing was falling for us but in the second half we rolled our sleeves up and started to create more chances unfortunately couldn’t take any of them,” he explained. “Friday will be a huge game for us and I know the boys a ready to put things right. We know it’s possible and believe we have what it takes to turn the tie around and look forward to the challenge.”
BELT UP AMATEUR LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION - ROUND SEVEN CATCH UP PREVIEW
The Belt Up Amateur Premier Division title will be decided this weekend, with South West Phoenix and Maddington White City divided by only one point going into the final round of fixtures, which features the top four teams. Leaders Phoenix could wrap the title up on Saturday evening with a win, when they welcome third placed Kwinana United to the Onside Sports Stadium in Bunbury. (6.00pm) The Phoenix scored late last week to claim the three points against UWA Nedlands, and striker Lee Stewart said they are making it a bit of a habit scoring late.
“Yes, it was another late win, but we’ve managed to do it so many times this year and I think that speaks volumes for the belief and attitude of this playing group,” Stewart explained. “It’s such a tough league and we’ve had so many tight games so turning those draws into wins has been so important to keep momentum in this title race. I thought UWA were extremely well organised and had a clear game plan to sit back and try and frustrate us and despite the bad luck of their only shot deflecting in we stayed calm and patient and were able to continue to dominate the ball and created the chances to win the game.”
With the Phoenix celebrating their 20th anniversary, Stewart knows the importance of Saturday’s game, but knows it will be a tough game. “It’s not often a league goes down to the final weekend and we are looking forward to such a big game, and would be great to celebrate our anniversary in style, but Kwinana are a well-coached side and we are expecting another tough game on Saturday night,” he said. “We’ve been approaching each game like a cup final ever since the Maddington loss as we knew we’d need a perfect finish to the season to give ourselves a chance. We have now put ourselves in a position where it’s in our hands so as a club we will prepare as best we can and look to produce a performance and get the three points.”
Kwinana coach Mark Purvis said he is looking forward to the game and will be looking for a response from his team after a disappointing result last week against Leeming. “Very disappointed with our efforts last week, but fair play to Leeming they were up for the challenge but we were well short of what we expect from ourselves,” Purvis said. “Our last game of the season is a big one against SWP and we know it’s has huge bearing on the title but to be honest after last week all I’m looking for is a response in performance from us. If we do that, we can make it tough for them but no matter the result I’m concentrating on our performance so we can sign off for the season and be proud of ourselves.”
If the Phoenix fail to win, Maddington could pip the for the title on Sunday afternoon with a win against fourth-placed Quinns at Gumblossom Park (All games kick off at 3.00) City’s attacking midfielder Alejandro Sarria was on target last week as they kept the pressure on the Phoenix with a big win against Wembley Downs, and he said they can’t control what happens in Bunbury, they can only control what they can do on Sunday. “We knew we had to win against Wembley, if we were to put pressure on the Phoenix and have a chance of winning the league,” he said.
“We continue training and playing every Sunday with the same desire to be champions. We know that we do not depend on ourselves but we are proud and happy of what we have achieved. In just two seasons in this league, we have shown that we are a great team and that we deserve more. As for this weekend I believe it is a disadvantage that a key game such as this is played at different times and days, however we are ready to play and win no matter what happens in the other game.”
Quinns drew in a ten-goal thriller last week against Joondalup United and coach Vinny McMillan said his ten men gave it everything, and he is expecting the same on Sunday. “It was a great end to end game to be a part of, and we set up with the intention to attack and score goals, knowing we may concede a few at the same time. Having a player sent off after 30 minutes didn’t help us however. After the break I thought we played some of our best football of the season for the first 20 minutes, going a goal up and moving the ball nicely. We inevitably started to tire and Joondalup took advantage of this. However, our boys never gave in and deserved at least a point. All credit to the Joondalup players who gave everything on the day and contributed to a brilliantly enjoyable game.
“Jeff and I are looking forward to this weekend’s game as are the players. It’s been a long season and it’s nice to have a game at home to round things off. Title on the line or no title on the line this game brings out the best in both teams and if Maddington do need a win there certainly will be no rolling over from our boys. We want to finish strong with a win and stay in fourth spot. I expect goals and a great atmosphere around the ground.”
In other games in the final round of fixtures, UWA Nedlands host North Perth United at the UWA Sports Park, Jaguar make the trip to Coker Park to take on Queens Park, Lemming Strikers entertain Wembley Downs meet at John Connell Reserve, while in the final game, relegated clubs Joondalup United and Hamersley Rovers meet at Beldon Park.
FLOREAT ATHENA WELCOME FFA CUP HOLDERS TO LITIS STADIUM
The FFA Cup 2021 Round of 32 got underway last week, with Brisbane Roar and Gold Coast Knights cementing their place in the last 16. The action continues in Queensland on Tuesday 21 September with Brisbane-based Lions FC hosting Football NT's Casuarina FC, before moving from East coast to West coast with the Round of 32 continuing on in Perth this weekend.
In an historic FFA Cup first, National Premier Leagues (NPLWA) side Floreat Athena will host defending winners, A-League club Adelaide United on Sunday 26 September, which will be the first Round of 32 match played on a weekend. In a huge boost for Floreat, they'll host the game at their home ground, E&D Litis Stadium. Kick-off for that match is scheduled for 1pm local time (3pm AEST).
It’s a huge game for Vas Vujacic’s side, and he said they are looking forward to the challenge. “It doesn’t get any bigger, taking on the current FFA Cup holders, but it’s a challenge the club is looking forward too,” he said. “They have a quality squad of full-time professionals and we know it will be a tough game, however we are coming to end of a long tough campaign and hopefully we can take advantage of any rustiness they do have. I have every confidence in my players they can go out and give a good account of themselves, and its cup football and a one-off game, we will give it a good crack.”
Floreat midfielder Sean McManus said everyone is ready for the game, and it reminds him of his football back in Scotland. “In my time at Livingstone I played against the so-called bigger teams, the likes of Celtic, Rangers etc. and I loved it,” he explained. “I personally buzz off of the bigger games so looking forward to playing an A-League side this week and hopefully the magic of the cup swings our way. All the players are buzzing for the game on Sunday we are glad it is on, after not knowing if it would be with the covid restrictions. It’s a great opportunity for us to showcase what we have showed most of the season on the national stage, it will be a great experience for us.”
Then on Wednesday 29 September, ECU Joondalup welcome Adelaide Olympic to Dorrien Gardens, rounding out the currently scheduled Round of 32 fixtures. Kick-off for that match is 6pm local time (8pm AEST). For the remainder of the Round of 32, Football Australia continues to work with all stakeholders to manage the situation, and intends to schedule fixtures in each state when it is safe to do so.
GARCIA WANTS FAMILIES ON ROAD TRIP
Perth Glory coach Richard Garcia wants the A-League to relocate families with the team to ease the mental pressure of their tough start to the new season. Glory have to play five of their first six games on a gruelling 33-day road trip when the COVID-hit season kicks off in November.
Australian Professional Leagues have scheduled the first six rounds in a conference system. Glory open at home to Adelaide United on Saturday November 20 before five away games against Western United, Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City, Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United. “It’s a mental health issue. It’s very important,” Garcia said. “Other codes can help with family relocation. As a code we need to be able to do it.”
Garcia led Glory through a tough schedule last year and said long road trips had taken a toll. “We need the APL to help us have a period with our families to make sure our boys are in the right mental state,” he said. “As much as the boys are ready to take on the challenge there needs to be a life-work balance. “Thirty days is a long time to be away from your families especially in the lead up to Christmas.”
“We went through a lot last season and sacrificed a lot for the league. The guys showed great resilience last season but if we are going to go through that again we need to get APL assistance. We will be looking to pursue that and make it as comfortable for the boys away from home. We understand the APL have got an enormous job trying to organise games but we have some games with a short turnaround that need to be rectified.”
GLORY AWAY FOR FIVE OF FIRST SIX GAMES
Perth Glory face a tough start to the new A-League campaign, forced to play five of their first six games away from home when the COVID-hit season kicks off in November. The Australian Professional Leagues have confirmed that the first six rounds of the A-League - and first four of the W-League - will be based on conference systems.
The five New South Wales clubs and Wellington Phoenix will play in one half of the split with the majority of the other games played in Victoria. The draw sees Glory’s A-League side commence the new campaign at home to Adelaide United on Saturday November 20 before a tough five-game road trip.
Glory travel to Western United six days later, Melbourne Victory on Sunday December 5 with just a three-day turnaround before facing Melbourne City. They then journey north to Queensland playing Brisbane Roar on Saturday December 18 before finishing off the block five days later at Adelaide United.
Glory’s W-League side kick-off their season on Saturday December 4 at home to Brisbane Roar before travelling to Queensland for the return fixture six days later. They are back in Perth to play Canberra United on Saturday December 18 with the fourth game of the block against Adelaide United on Thursday December 23.
Further details of the season draw will be released later in the year with border restrictions predicted to be eased by the turn of the year under the Federal Government’s national COVID-19 transition plan. The start date has been pushed back three weeks with the grand final now scheduled for May 28.
MAYNARD-BREWER SHINES ON STAGGIES DEBUT
It was debut to remember for former ECU Joondalup academy keeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer, after starring in Ross County’s 2-2 draw with Hearts at Victoria Park in the Scottish Premiership last week. The keeper is on-loan from English Championship side Charlton Athletic, but he feared that involvement in this summer’s Olympic Games with the Olyroos would wreck his chances of a loan move. While fully committed to parent club Charlton Athletic, the 22-year-old knew he needed first-team action to continue his development this season.
Representing Australia under-23s in Tokyo, even as an unused substitute, was a thrilling life experience, but meant he missed pre-season training completely. But he was backed by a supportive manager in Charlton’s Nigel Adkins, though, opportunity beckoned at Ross County, and his first-team chance came on Saturday after displacing established Ross Laidlaw against the high-flying Hearts, and earned the sponsors’ man of the match award.
“Coming to Ross County is a really good opportunity for me,” Maynard-Brewer said. “I went away with the Oz team for the summer Olympics in Tokyo and missed most of pre-season. As a result, I didn’t think I’d get a loan this season. Luckily, just as I was flying home from Tokyo’s airport the gaffer here called me. Immediately, I knew it was a great chance for me in a top league. I know Scotland is a football-mad country and takes football very seriously. Since coming here, I’ve loved everything about it – the people, club and area. I also have grandparents in Aberdeen who I don’t see very often, so that’s another nice aspect.”
Former ECU Joondalup Coach Steve Amphlett worked with the youngster in the club’s academy and the under 18s and he said he was always working hard on his game. “Ash was determined to succeed in the game, and when I coached him in the 16s and 18s, he was always stepping up when needed,” he said. “He was outstanding, and we are really pleased his determination and hard work has been rewarded in the UK and Olyroos.”
Scotland’s Premiership represents a huge step up for Ash, after previous loans at Dulwich Hamlet, Dover Athletic, Hampton & Richmond and Chelmsford City, but he is ready for the challenge. “I was a bit nervous. Obviously, Hearts are a good team,” the English-born keeper said. “But I’m happy I managed to make a few saves, which was nice early on as I was a little bit jumpy. “Their early goal was frustrating as it was their first attack. There was a deflection and it beat me at the near post, but we reacted in a good way, went in at half- time 2-1 up and withstood a lot of pressure from Hearts.”
MGET WELL SOON DANNY HODGSON AS GLORY BEAT ECU IN BENEFIT GAME
The game ended in a 3-0 win to Glory, with Adam Zimarino scoring twice and Daniel Stynes adding the other, in their first pre-season hit out, while the Jacks gave their squad a good workout ahead of next week’s FFA Cup round of 32 game against Adelaide Olympic at the same venue. A defensive error allowed Stynes to open the scoring in the first minute, and they doubled their advantage on 16 minutes, Giordano Colli threading the ball into the path of Zimarino whose clincial finish gave Johnny Perkins in the ECU goal no chance.
Zimarino struck again shortly before the break, this time meeting an inviting Pacifique Niyongabire cross from the right with a powerful header. Niyongabire, who was making his debut for the club after his move from Adelade United, went close to adding a goal to his assist, ending a jinking run into the box with a rasping shot which flashed across the face of goal and just wide of the far post.
Glory began the second half in a similar vein Ciaran Bramwell shot flashing narrowly over the bar, before Perkins denied Antonee Burke-Gilroy, who was also making his Glory debut after a switch from Brisbane Roar. At the other end, Cameron Cook was called into action, tipping Sonny O'Shea header over the top, before former Glory midfielder Declan Hughes saw his dipping free kick fly over. Both sides made numerous changes and the game lost its sharpness, Glory running out comfortable winners.
MATILDAS SLUMP IN KERR'S MILESTONE GAME
Coach Tony Gustavvsson has lamented the Matildas’ failure to fire in Sam Kerr’s 100th international, saying the Republic of Ireland “wanted it more” as the Australians slumped to a shock 3-2 loss. Exciting young gun Mary Fowler scored a first half brace but Australia’s defensive issues proved their downfall - with the defeat soured further with a knee injury suffered by Chloe Logarzo.
“I said in the circle with the team afterwards that it felt that they wanted it more than us - and that’s not OK,” Gustavsson said post-match. “With the Matildas, it’s in our DNA to always give it 100 (per cent), to play a physical game, to be aggressive, to wear the crest on the chest and always play our best and it felt like Ireland wanted it more.”
Australia went a goal down after just 3 minutes when Lucy Quinn’s free-kick struck the post, ricocheted off goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold and went into the net. Fowler brought the Matildas level on 14 minutes with a long-range strike only for Ireland to go ahead again Denise O’Sullivan. Fowler equalised on the shadows of half-time with a heavily-deflected shot.
Ireland found what proved to be the winner on 49 minutes when Louise Quinn capitalised on a lack of defensive pressure to score with a back post header. Logarzo was injured in a challenge four minutes later, while Clare Wheeler, Angela Beard and Charlotte Grant all made their debuts. Kerr looked isolated for much of the second half and finished goalless in her milestone game.
MASTRANTONIO’S LOCAL CONNECTIONS GUIDE HER EUROPEAN SOJOURN
She may currently be 13,000km away, but Perth product Ella Mastrantonio’s experiences with the heady heights of European football were forged in her hometown. The former Perth Glory Women midfielder signed for Italian giants Lazio ahead of the current Serie A campaign after their promotion from the second division last season.
In doing so, Mastrantonio became the first Australian woman to wear Lazio’s famous sky blue, following in the footsteps of Socceroos Mark Bresciano, Chris Ikonomidis and Paul Okon. She made the decision to head to Italy after talks with her former Glory Women coach and current Lazio assistant coach Nicola Williams.
“It was the perfect time in my career to make the move. It was my dream to play overseas and with the boom in women’s football happening in Europe, it’s the place to be right now,” Mastrantonio said. “The opportunity came from the WSL, which is one of the biggest and best leagues in the world, so no-brainer for me.”
“Lazio is a massive club in world football, so it was a no-brainer to come here and play for such a prestigious club. For them to be back in Serie A is a big deal and to work under the football minds of the people here is an honour.”
Mastrantonio joined Lazio off the back of a season with Bristol City in the Women’s Super League, who were coached by another fellow Western Australian, former Glory Women defender Tanya Oxtoby. Her time in Bristol was not always smooth sailing however, as she joined just as England was plunged into a tough lockdown.
“Moving away from friends and family is the hardest part, but also with the COVID situation we were pretty much in lockdown for most of that season,” she said. “Sadly I wasn’t able to get to any EPL games but I was there for football; that’s my job. Being able to do a bit more would have made things easier, but it is what it is.”
Before she headed to Europe, Mastrantonio had carved out a strong, decade-long W-League career, playing more than 100 games with Glory Women, Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers. She also paid credit to local clubs Fremantle Spirit and Cockburn City for helping her development early in her career.
“I grew up playing with boys my whole life. All of my clubs have been very supportive and accommodating to letting me playing a year up with the boys,” she said. “At Cockburn, they got special permission from Football West so I could keep playing in the 18s league in the NPL. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to keep playing at a higher level.”
2023 looms as perhaps the biggest year in Matildas’ history and Mastrantonio said the Women’s World Cup on home soil was firmly on her mind when she jetted off to Europe. While she missed out on selection in Tony Gustavsson’s squad for the Olympic games, the midfielder says playing in Europe was her best chance to put herself in contention for the World Cup.
“They want all of our best players to play against the best players in the world, that’s the only way we’re going to develop as a country,” she said. “It was 100 per cent the reason I wanted to go overseas, to keep in contention for the World Cup back home.”
“I don’t know if there’s any words to really express what it would be like (to play at the 2023 World Cup). It’s every footballer’s dream to go to a major tournament with their country, let alone in front of people they know and friends and family.”
KERR SET FOR 100TH MATILDAS CAP
Twelve years and 48 goals after making her international debut as a raw, prodigiously talented 15-year old, Matildas captain Samantha Kerr is set to notch her 100th cap for Australia. The 28-year old will lead the line in Australia's first game since their Tokyo 2020 campaign when they face the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday.
"Any time you get to represent your country and play with this group of girls, it's an amazing honour," Kerr said. "It's something I don't take lightly and I am a little bit sad some of my buddies can't be here for it. I have pretty much played all of my 100 with them but I am sure there will be many more games to celebrate all our hundreds."
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson hailed Kerr, who is the 10th Matildas player to reach the 100-cap milestone and is just two goals short of Tim Cahill's record of 50 goals for Australia. "It's such a privilege to be a small part of her phenomenal career," Gustavsson said. "She's not just a phenomenal and world class footballer, she's a phenomenal and world class person as well."
JAPAN IS "DEFINITELY A STEP UP" REVEALS TAGGART
Socceroos striker Adam Taggart is continuing to adjust to life in Japan, sharing a noticeable difference between the J.League and K-League. Taggart made the switch from Korea’s Suwon Bluewings to Cerezo Osaka last year, and despite COVID-19 and injuries keeping him from regular playing time, he praised the level of football in Japan.
"It is definitely a step up (from the K-League) and is helping me to improve as a player," Taggart said of playing in Japan. "There’s fantastic players around me and the training is always of such a high standard which has been the perfect preparation heading into a Socceroos camp.”
Following his move to the J-League, Taggart was forced to stay in Australia for a number of months due to the pandemic and a couple of minor injuries have limited his playing time. But the former Perth Glory, Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets frontman has returned to match fitness and started Australia's recent World Cup Qualifiers against China and Vietnam.
Taggart will be hoping that form translates to a sustained first team run at Osaka. "It's been a slow start as I was stuck at home for six months," he commented. "I can feel the sharpness and match fitness coming back over the last month though. Ultimately, I'm looking forward to getting more game time under my best and getting better accustomed to the J-League."
Osaka can focus entirely on league aspirations following its recent elimination from the Asian Champions League, interestingly at the hands of K-League outfit Pohang Steelers. Currently sitting 12th in the J-League, Osaka and Taggart will be looking to rise up the table after a promising 4th place finish in last seasons campaign.
GLORY WOMEN ADD INTERNATIONAL FLAVOUR
Perth Glory Women are nearing the completion of their 2021/22 roster following the recruitment of Danish international Mie Leth Jans and American attacker Cyera Hintzen. The pair join Glory Women with impressive track records abroad and will add experience to coach Alex Epikas' new-look Glory Women line-up.
Leth Jans, 27, boasts 26 appearances for Denmark gained through spells with Danish sides Brøndby and BSF, English outfit Manchester City and Swedish clubs FC Rosengard and Vittsjo GIK. "I'm delighted to be joining the club which I've heard many good things about from my Australian friends," the defender said.
"I like the way Alex is passionate about this project, I like his values and I'm sure I can learn a great deal by working with him. I'm very much looking forward to meeting everyone, trying a different league and doing my best to help the team achieve its goals."
Hintzen started her senior soccer career with the University of Texas before joining National Women's Soccer League club Kansas City. In June the 23-year old switched to Icelandic side Valur, where she made 13 appearances and sored six goals to help her club win the Úrvalsdeild, Iceland's league.
"Australia has always been a place that I've wanted to play in ever since college," Hintzen said. "I know the players that come out of there are well-developed and have a great experience on and off the field, so when Perth reached out, I knew it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up."
"I'm looking forward to developing a relationship with everyone on and off the field and am excited to learn from the players and the environment around me which will help me grow in my game. I want to contribute in any way I can to help achieve our goals and win a Championship."
SORRENTO APPOINT MORGAN FOR 2022
Trevor Morgan has been appointed coach of Sorrento for the 2022 season. Morgan, who has coached in England, Singapore, Malaysia and India, takes up the reins from Jamie Harnwell and will be assisted by former State striker Ross Greer.
Morgan, 64, has a long association with Sorrento, initially joining the northern suburbs club as player-coach in 1997. Over a 14-year period he partnered Steve Neville to lead the Gulls to their first major trophy, the 1999 Night Series, along with three Premier League crowns.
Morgan's successes at Sorrento were not limited to silverware with the former English league professional playing a key role in the development of brothers Jamie and Todd Harnwell, defenders Steve MacDonald and Scott Neville along with goalkeeper Neil Young, all who went on to play professionally.
"I am delighted to be back at Sorrento, the club has always felt like home and has been so welcoming from when I first arrived in Australia," said Morgan. "Under Jamie the club has assembled a great group of lads who were unlucky not to win something this year and I look forward to building on the strides made this season."
Sorrento president Derek Harnwell welcomed Morgan back to the Gulls nest. "It is great to welcome Trevor back to the club as coach," said Harnwell. "Trevor knows Sorrento inside and out and will ensure that the strong culture of the club will be maintained. We have a great squad of players and we look forward to seeing what they can achieve next season."
Morgan made 600 league and cup appearances as a player for English clubs Bournemouth, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers, Exeter City, Bolton Wanderers and Colchester United amongst others. He made the move to coaching in 1993 at Birmingham City and Exeter before moving to Perth.
His time with Sorrento was interspersed by spells with Sengkang Marine (Singpaore), Sarawak (Malaysia) and English club Hull City, where he was in charge of the Under-23s. Morgan coached with success at East Bengal before taking charge of fellow Indian club Kerala Blasters and the Bhutan national team.
JONES SETS SIGHTS ON HOMETOWN GLORY
Perth Glory’s A-League campaign is in safe hands with red-hot competition for the goalkeeping spot following the signing of former Socceroo Brad Jones for the next two years. The former Liverpool and Feyenoord goalkeeper will be battling with fellow veteran Liam Reddy for the spot between the posts.
There will be plenty of friendly rivalry between the pair but Jones, who signed from Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr, has not joined Glory to be warming the bench. “I want to be out there playing,” said Jones, who has played in England, the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia since leaving Perth as a teenager.
“Over the past few years I’ve been fortunate. From my time at Liverpool, towards the end, the club became successful and I wanted more of that. My time in Holland as very successful and something that was a massive step for me to become a first-team keeper and also achieve what we achieved. Saudi was the same. I’m looking for the same thing here.”
Jones has the jump on Glory’s long-time gloveman Reddy, who is sidelined for several weeks with a shoulder injury. “We’ve spoken – he’s a good guy,” Jones said. “I’ve been in contact with him through Instagram and things like that because I was always following what the boys were doing over here.”
“It was good to meet up with him and look forward to working with him. There’s always competition but at the same time goalies tend to be a pretty tight-knit group. We’re a different breed, kind of set aside from the rest of the team.”
Jones said returning home after playing overseas for 22 years was something he always wanted and coach Richard Garcia was a big influence on the move. The pair played together in state representative teams and at international level since they were 14 and both moved to play in England just six months apart.
“As a kid growing up this (Glory) was the first step,” Jones said. “When the opportunity came I was interested but it had to be the right move for me. I wasn’t interested in just going anywhere and working with anyone. I don’t want to work with just anybody.”
“He (Garcia) is a young coach but from what I’ve seen and what I know of him he’s got a bright future. We shared a lot in common. He’s somebody that’s familiar, I know how he works, I know what his ideas will be. He’s somebody I can see myself working well with. That’s important.”
“If I can help with my experience in the dressing room I’ll do what I can. From what I’ve seen it’s a good group of young payers. There’s a good balance with some of the more experienced boys. The first thing I noticed was the camaraderie in the dressing room. It’s definitely a good vibe.”
JOONDALUP TAKE OUT THE DIVISION ONE TOP FOUR CUP
Joondalup United are the 2021 State League Division One Top Four winners after a 3-1 win against Quinns in the Final at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday afternoon. Jay Lang gave United the lead early, before James Oldroyd doubled their lead at the break. Quinns hit back early on the second half with Jackson Dongray reducing the deficit, but Jamie Gardiner added a third to give Nick Jennings’ side the trophy.
“The boys were superb from the first whistle and fully deserved the win,” Joondalup coach Jennings said. “I thought we showed enormous character to withstand the barrage of long throws and set pieces that Quinns had. We proved that we are a team, United hard working but also with good quality in the final third. It’s a great feeling after a few barren years to once again lift a trophy, this gives us a platform to push on again next season.”
It was a tight opening to the contest, but it was Joondalup who opened the scoring on 14 minutes, a long-throw from Jesse Owuor was flicked on to Lang, who swept the ball into the top corner. They doubled their lead nine minutes later, a long clearance from keeper Joe Smith sent Oldroyd clear and he finished low past Patrick Stephenson from the angle. At the break, Joondalup had one hand on the trophy, and their supporters were letting everyone know about it.
But five minutes into the second half Quinns reduced the margin. Jackson Dongray’s cross shot went over Smith and in off the back post. It was game on, but the Joondalup fans were in full voice again two minutes later when they hit back to make it 3-1. Lang sent a free kick out to the left to Oldroyd, who cross to the back post found Gardiner, who finished neatly. Quinns looked to get back into the game but were held out by some tight Joondalup defending, and at the final whistle it was the Joondalup supporters celebrating in the local derby final.
“Absolutely delighted with the win today, the boys were fantastic from start to finish and thoroughly deserved the win,” Joondalup midfielder Jay Lang said. “We executed the game plan perfectly and had that bit of extra quality in the final third when it mattered. I have to give a special mention to our fans who didn’t stop singing all day.”
Joondalup United: GK Joe SMITH, 2 Jesse OWUOR, 3 Scott HOYLE, 4 Gary HILL, 5 Jay LANG, 6 James OLDROYD, 7 Jamie GARDINER, 11 Anthony TAYLOR, 16 Adam BUCKLEY, 19 Joel PROUT, 20 Brad MCDONALD – Subs not used: 9 Joel SOLLITT, 10 Robert IRVING, 12 Ayden DRAGUN, 13 Andrew FLINT, 14 Nick MAPLESTONE
Quinns: GK Patrick STEPHENSON, 21 Reece ABRAMS, 22 Declan HUDSON, 24 Jackson DONGRAY, 26 Lucas TRIGLAVCANIN, 28 Kade FEARNALL, 29 Cian HIRRELL, 31 Owen GOODLIFFE, 42 Ben HINSHELWOOD, 43 Adam TONG, 44 Adam BUCKINGHAM – Subs not used: 4 Jack FREW, 19 Joel LEDSHAM, 23 Hermon MICHAELE, 39 Anyuon DAU, 50 Aidan HOLLOWAY – Referee: Stephen KNIGHT
DIVISION ONE TOP FOUR CUP GRAND FINAL 18'S AND RESERVES REVIEW
There were two tight State League Division One Top Four Finals in the 18s and Reserves. First in the 18s Final Fremantle City overcame Subiaco 2-0 in the early game at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday morning. It was a tight game throughout, with both sides having chances, but all the goal action came late. First on the hour Fremantle were awarded a penalty after Kai Stephens was brought down by Jonah Froman, and referee Kai Bartusch pointed to the spot. Stephens stepped up to take the resulting spot kick, but Samuel Assumption guessed the right way to save.
But eight minutes from time they were rewarded another penalty after Rhys Kapur handled Daniel Bell’s header on the line, and the referee awarded the penalty and sent the Subiaco player off. This time Bell stepped up and sent Assumption the wrong way to give Fremantle the lead. They sealed victory deep into stoppage time, Bell getting to the by-line and cutting the ball back to substitute Bailey Coustley who made no mistake.
In the reserves Subiaco made up for the loss in the 18s beating Stirling Macedonia 6-5 on penalties, after the game ended 2-2 at normal time. Subiaco opened the scoring on 13 minutes, Lachlan Hannah’s corner was headed home by Ethan Johnson. They doubled their lead just after the hour, substitute Kallan Del Dosso finding the top corner with a long-range strike. It looked game over but Stirling hit back on 79 minutes, Reece Corrigan’s corner was headed home by substitute Goran Beric.
Then three minutes from time they levelled with a bizarre goal. Subiaco keeper Sean McCracken’s long clearance was lobbed back by a Stirling defender and another substitute Kealey Farrant’s glancing header saw the ball roll into an empty net. So, it off to penalties and in the final penalty Stirling skipper Samuel Richardson saw his penalty saved by McCracken to set off wild celebrations from the Subiaco players and coaching staff.
BELT UP AMATEUR LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION - ROUND TWENTY TWO REVIEW
The Belt Up Amateur Premier Division title will go down to the final game of the season, with the top two sides South West Phoenix and Maddington White City both winning their respective round 22 games over the weekend. The penultimate round began on Saturday evening when league leaders Phoenix were given a scare by UWA Nedlands at the Onside Sports Stadium, but a stoppage time goal gave them a narrow 2-1 win.
“It was a little too close for me,” Phoenix coach Nick Carter said. “They were ahead at half time against the run of play, and after the break they put five in defence and we had to work hard to break them down. We pulled one back and Rory popped up in the last-minute winner. I’m really proud of the never say die attitude of the players, they deserve it.”
The home side had the majority of possession and chances in the first half but it was UWA who struck first against the run of play, with Abel Thomas-Hy free kick taking a deflection to beat Jamie Oakey. Phoenix knew what was at stake had they failed to win which saw them come out firing in the first 20 minutes of the second half. They levelled just after the hour mark, with a clinical finish by winger Kieran Quinn. Phoenix pushed on creating several opportunities, but it felt like it was going to be one of those games where things simply weren’t going right for the home team.
That was until a very late chance fell to veteran Rory Binnie in the final minute, who managed to squeeze one past the keeper, sending the crowd into a frenzy and securing the three points. “It was a testament to the entire team who never gave up and fought bravely until the very end,” Bennie said post-match. “It felt like that was one of those games the club will remember for a very long time, we are now only 90 minutes from the title, but it will be a tough 90 minutes against Kwinana United.”
On Sunday Maddington kept the pressure on the Phoenix after a 5-1 win against Wembley Downs at Nikola Tesla Reserve. The home side were ahead early, Gaston Bazet’s shot found the top corner from outside the box. But Wembley levelled midway through, with skipper Juraj Galba scoring. Maddington missed a number of chances to retake the lead, but they eventually found it in the final minute of the half, David Sarria was given too much time outside the box and he smashed the ball in off the post.
Wembley started well early in the second half and had some chances to score but so did Maddington with Jose Zuniga and Sami Ramos both going close. Zuniga turned the game at the end with a 10-minute hat trick, scoring three goals in quick succession to seal the win. “Wembley are a decent side so to beat them 5-1 is a good result. The win has lifted our goal difference above Bunbury's going into the final game of the season, which is great considering we were 11 goals behind them only a few weeks ago,” Maddington’s Petar Mrdja explained.
“It now comes down to the last game of the season and anything can happen. Our hopes rest with Kwinana and we hope they can achieve a result on Saturday. Kwinana are the best team that we have faced all season, they beat us at home earlier in the season and were extremely difficult to play against away, so I'm sure it won’t be easy for the Phoenix, same as it won’t be for us away to Quinns. We wish Kwinana all the best and hope that we still have something to play for come Sunday.”
Joondalup United’s fight for survival came to an end after they drew 5-5 in a thriller against Quinns at Beldon Park. "It was a typical derby game between two sides that know each very well, and it made for great entertainment both on and off the pitch. We needed a win and to have any chance of survival but unfortunately the inability to close out games has been an issue all season and we switched off right at the very end,” Joondalup coach Neil Sherwin explained.
"I can't fault the character and effort by the players, we took the game to Quinns throughout and to score five goals against a strong side was pleasing. We've improved as the year has gone on but it was too little, too late and the early season results gave us too much to do. There are a lot of talented players in the squad and the club will look to get back into the Premier Division as soon as possible."
The home side took the lead in the opening minutes when a bouncing ball was misjudged and Adam Taylor was on hand to hit a looping shot over the Quinns keeper. Quinns turned the game around quickly when a cross from the left was finished from close range by Ryan McCready and a free kick was headed home by Tom Ashworth. Ryan Pellow got Joondalup back on level terms when he picked up a pass from Andreas Bouzinekis and finished into the bottom right corner. Quinns were reduced to ten men following a straight red card to Liam Hunt, before Louis Cheetham tapped home from Adam Taylor's pinpoint cross to make it 3-2 at the break.
Despite being a man down, Quinns were the better team to start the second half and capitalised on a misplaced pass to tie it up, with McCready on target again. They then went ahead when a long-range shot was sliced into his own net by Jack Walsh. The back and forth continued as substitute Peter Rakic hit a stunning 30-yard strike that gave the goalkeeper no chance for 4-4. The numbers were evened up shortly afterwards when Adam Rogers was dismissed for a second yellow card offence.
A couple of brilliant saves kept the scores level until the final minutes when Quinns were penalised for handball and Adam Giannasi kept his cool to slot home the penalty. With the final action of the game, a free kick from the right wing was headed into the top corner by McCready, to complete his hat-trick and score his 29th goal of the season, and give Quinns a share of the points. “It was crazy game from start to finish and a real good local derby with everything you’d expect,” Quinns striker McCready said. “We fought back really well with 10 men for most of it, but we knew Joondalup were going to come at us battling for survival but we stood up to the challenge and got a deserved point at the end.”
There was another goal feast at a Kelly Park as third placed Kwinana United were beaten 5-4 by Leeming Strikers. The visitors were ahead early, with Cameron Anderson converting from the spot. But Kwinana hit back with a quick double from Lee Bates and Lewis McGowan, but David Palin restored parity volleying into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area. Anderson regained the lead for the Strikers early in the second half, but a doubled from Bates, to complete his hat-trick, saw Kwinana hit the front again.
The game wasn’t over and Justin Onek shot on the turn levelled things up, and they won five minutes from time, Palin’s found Clayton Kendell at the front post who headed home. “The game was end to end all day. With both sides not having a lot to play for, gave it a real go and for the neutral I think they would have enjoyed it,” Leeming player/coach Palin said. “A draw was probably the fairest result, and Kwinana could have won it but in the end, we managed to get it and given how good Kwinana have been all year were really pleased with the final result.”
Queens Park secured their survival after a hard fought 2-2 draw against North Perth United in the early game at Woodville Reserve. The visitors flew out of the blocks scoring early, a cross from the right was tapped in from close range by Lindon Bridger. But the hosts levelled midway though the first half, Kelechi Osunwa eased past two defender down the right and his cross picked out Simon El Chami who made no mistake. United were ahead in the shadows of half time, Osunwa was the supplier again, his cross from the right found David Houston, whose shot was turned home by El Chami, and the visitors then had Nike Bukasa sent off.
But three minutes from time the Park found the equaliser and their survival, substitute Arnold Antonyo racing clear to finish. “Full credit to Queens Park they battled and deserved their point, they showed a lot more desire and work rate,” North Perth coach Luke O’Neill said. “It was disappointing to see the effort from the lads this weekend, we have an opportunity to put it right this weekend against a well organised UWA side.”
In the final game Jaguar have fought out a 2-1 win against Hamersley Rovers at Carine Open Space. The Jags were ahead early, quick build up from the back found Akuei Guot on the left, and he put a ball into the middle for Conor O'Driscoll, who took a touch before volleying just inside the left-hand post. But Rovers hit back on the hour, with Jordan Nastov on target. But it was Jags who found the winner 18 minutes from time. A crucial defensive tackle from Matthew Dudek fell to Malek Domkoc, who put a long ball through to put Guot one-on-one with the keeper, and he rounded Liam Barclay, and passed the ball into an empty net. “Happy to get the win against a tough Hamersley side,” Jags keeper Michael Dudek said. “Although I am disappointed to see Hamersley getting relegated this season, being such a successful club over the years, and one I played many years for as a junior. I'm sure they'll bounce back quickly and be in the premier league again soon.”
PERTH FIRST HALF BLITZ STUNS FLOREAT
Perth SC are the 2021 NPLWA Top Four Cup winners after a 6-3 win against Floreat Athena in the final at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday evening. In Ramon Falzon’s final game in charge of the club, his side blitzed their opponents with a stunning first half performance, racing to a 5-0 lead after only 23 minutes, with goals from Kristian Santich, a double from Michael Domfeh, Alex Silla and Calvin Whitney. Floreat did pull one back before the break with Chris Saldaris converting from the spot, and they pulled it back to 5-3 with a second half brace from Nick Ambrogio, but Jordan De Leo wrapped up the win 11 minutes from time.
“An absolutely incredible night for the team, coaching staff, club and supporters. Our first 25 minutes were the best I think we’ve seen in the league by any team for some time now. Hats off to Floreat for their fight and for giving us a little fright at the start of the second half,” Perth defender Alex Silla explained. “But I’m so proud our group. All our hard work throughout the year was on show, we got our revenge for last year’s big dance and walked out deserving Top 4 Champions, ticking off yet another double.”
The hosts made the best possible start and they were ahead on six minutes. A clearance from Floreat fell to Santich on the edge of the penalty area and he volleyed home superbly into the top corner giving Thomas Chudy no chance. They doubled their lead two minutes later, a first-time ball from Cameron Teece sent Domfeh racing clear of the offside trap, and the striker finished low past Chudy. Amazingly it was 3-0 on 11 minutes, Yagoub Mustafa and Teece combining to send Santich to the by-line and he cut the ball back into the penalty area and Silla finished clinically from six meters.
They were in again moments later, Teece slipping in Mustafa in on goal, but Chudy stood tall to deny him. But he was beaten again on the quarter hour mark, as Perth added a fourth. Teece’s through ball sent Domfeh racing clear, he held of Dennis Galan and fired past the Floreat custodian. A shell-shocked Floreat needed to settle, and they went close themselves six minutes later, Robert Harding raced into the penalty are, but Perth keeper Ryan Montgomery was out bravely to save at his feet. But moments later Floreat were caught out again at the back. Mustafa’s ball sent Whitney clear down the left, the midfielder cut inside his marker before finding the bottom corner of the net to make it 5-0 and celebrated acrobatically.
It looked all over, but Floreat found a small lifeline after Nic McDonald brought down Ambrogio and referee Steven Gregory pointed straight to the spot, Saldaris found the bottom corner from the resulting penalty to reduce the margin. Perth went close to a sixth on the half hour, Santich’s free kick was headed inches wide by Lachlan Byrd, before Whitney’s snap shot from the edge of the box fizzed over the top. Floreat almost added a second in the shadows of half time, Ambrogio’s flick sent Harding in on goal but his shot from the angle flashed wide of the far post, but at the break Perth were in total control.
Vas Vujacic’s side were on the front foot after the break and they thought they had a second goal early, but Ludovic Boi’s goal was ruled out, the assistant spotting Ambrogio in an offside position in the build-up. But moments later they did find a second, Boi sent Sean McManus down the left and his cross to the back post was headed home by Ambrogio. Perth was still dangerous going forward and Whitney fired inches wide on 64 minutes, but sixty second later it was Floreat who added their third. A long free kick by Galan was headed goalward by Boi and Ambrogio bravely got in front of his marker and keeper to fire home, and it was game on.
Floreat had a sniff of a comeback and Arnold’s long-range strike whistled inches past the post and they were pushing and they thought the game wasn’t over, but it was on 79 minutes when Perth added a sixth. Santich’s ball into the box found substitute and club skipper Jordan De Leo, who got in between two Floreat defenders to home and seal the win. Kristian Santich won the player of the match, and was presented with the 'Marocchi Medal'. Perth keeper Ryan Montgomery said that could be his last game, and it was a great way to go out.
“Wow where do I start! The boys were primed and ready to make amends for last year final and to be 5-0 up after 23 minutes, I think the embarrassment was well and truly turned on its head,” he said. “It was definitely the best 25-minute start to a game in my career and it felt like a fairy tale. The penalty was a lifeline and they were always going to come out strong in the second half and credit to them for getting two goals to make it 5-3, but the boys re-focused and make it 6-3 just proves that clearly the best team won on the day. A clean sheet would have been nice, but what a way to send me into retirement I reckon.”
Perth SC: GK Ryan MONTGOMERY, 2 Alex SILLA (3 Jordan DE LEO 59’), 4 Lachlan BYRD, 6 Nik MCDONALD, 10 Michael DOMFEH, 11 Yagoub MUSTAFA, 13 Calvin WHITNEY, 16 Kieran COLWELL 19 Bojan RADINOVIC, 20 Cameron TEECE, 22 Kristian SANTICH – Subs not sued: RGK Adrian SINAGRA, 15 Will GORDON, 17 Aiden FORMSTON, 18 Federico ACHILLI,
Floreat Athena: GK Thomas CHUDY, 2 Marco SANTALUCIA, 8 Sean MCMANUS, 9 Robert HARDING, 10 Nick AMBROGIO, 11 Dennis GALAN, 13 George FESTA, 15 Chris SALDARIS, 18 Phil ARNOLD, 20 Andrew PALMER, 21 Ethan MOM - Subs not used: RGK Theodore SARRIS, 4 Ben STEELE, 14 Ludovic BOI, 16 Kyle MURRAY, 19 Laat MATHIANG – Referee: Steve GREGORY
BAYSWATER TAKE THE GLORY IN PENALTY SHOOTOUT
Bayswater City have won the 2021 NPLWA under 20s Top Four Final after a thrilling penalty shoot-out win against Perth Glory at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday afternoon. City were ahead early in this one, Daniel Katz on target, and in the shadows of half time they added a second with Katz adding a second. But Glory hit back and Jaylan Pearman scoring, and just before the hour mark Matthew George levelled. Both sides pressed for the winner but it was decided on penalties with City running out 4-2 winners.
“Obviously really pleased to defend the top four cup, and winning two of the three trophies on offer has to be seen as a successful season,” Bayswater coach Alun Vernals said. “The squad has been unbelievable both in attitude and ability so the players deserve all the recognition. The game itself had it all, good goals a red card, and a few handbags, but most all two teams desperate to get the win, Glory were very unlucky on the day.” Bayswater were ahead on eight minutes, Shaun Mukwevho sent Alex Pietroniro down the left and his low cross was turned home by Katz. They added a second three minutes before the break, Daniel Harrison’s corner was headed home by the unmarked Katz, and they lead by that scoreline at the break.
But Chris Coyne’s side were out of the blocks early in the second half, and Jaylan Pearman’s long-range shot was well saved by George Jackson in the first minute, and Glory reduced the margin sixty seconds later. Great work down the right by Joel Anasmo, saw him cut inside and cross to Pearman who side footed home. Bayswater went close to a third on 52 minutes, Mukwevho’s shot on the turn beat Sam Reilly, but the ball hit the far post and rolled across the goal line and hit the other before the ball was cleared. Glory rode their luck there, and minutes later we were all level. Anasmo was the supplier again, this time racing into the penalty area and feeding George, who made no mistake.
Both sides went for the win Giordano Sportiello’s shot on the run flashed wide, while George fired over the top at the other end. Bayswater were reduced to ten men on 77 minutes, when Pietroniro was shown a second yellow card by Troy Malatesta and Glory almost capitalized immediately. A free kick into the box wasn’t dealt with and Anasmo and Judd MacDougall saw their shots blocked by some desperate Bayswater defending. Glory pressed for the winner and almost found it two minutes from time, Hobson was in on goal, but Jackson stood tall to deny him, so it was off to penalties. Jackson was the hero again, saving George’s third spot kick, and up stepped Igor Cvijanovic to score the final penalty to give City a 4-2 win.
“Due to our close rivalry during the league and cup campaigns, the top four cup final turned out to be a fantastic game,” Bayswater skipper Dean Kezurer said. “A lot was riding on this game as we had very close ties with the Glory throughout the season, and they have some great young talent and their endeavour to win trophies really showed throughout the game. However, our team was playing for more than just a new trophy in the cabinet, this top four cup was also for our beloved Gerry (Maio) who sadly passed away this year. I would also like to extend a special mention to Daniel Katz who scored twice during the final as well as a heroic display by George Jackson who helped win us the game in penalties.”
Bayswater City: GK George JACKSON, 3 Aleks KRUSAROSKI, 4 Dean KEZURER (2 Logan RINDEL 63’), 6 Alex MCLEAN, 8 Daniel HARRISON, 9 Shaun MUKWEVHO, 11 Leonard GAMA, (7 Raeez PANDOR 50’), 13 Igor CVIJANOVIC, 14 Giordano SPORTIELLO, 16 Alex PIETRONIRO, 19 Daniel KATZ – Subs not Used: 15 Noah KANZI, 20 Jacob FORSYTH, 25 Nemanja JANKOVIC
Perth Glory: GK Sam REILLY, 2 Taiga MATOBA, 3 Andriano LEBIB, 4 Judd MACDOUGALL, 5 Alex CHRISTODOULAKIS, 8 Jaylan PEARMAN (7 Daniel ADESINA 86’), 10 Matthew GEORGE, 11 Joel ANASMO (20 Royie RAHAMIM 81’), 14 Daniel BENNIE, 16 Aiki TSUKAMOTO – Subs not used: 12 Christian ROBERTSON, 13 Gert PRINSLOO, 15 Shade STEWART – Referee: Troy Malatesta
BAYSWATER TOO STRONG FOR INGLEWOOD
Bayswater City proved too strong for Inglewood United, taking out the 2021 NPLWA under 18s Top Four Cup Final with a hard fought 2-0 win at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday morning. “The boys were superb today and they have been throughout the season,” Bayswater coach Paul Lincoln said. “After last week’s loss to them and the carry on that ensued, the boys really wanted it and we saw that with the way we started the game. I thought we deserved it today and it was a good team performance. It’s been a remarkable year having won today, the cup and the league. We are extremely pleased with what the group has been able to achieve.”
City were ahead on 20 minutes, Orhan Boric burst into the penalty area and he was brought down by Christopher Tilson, and referee Jack Maraldo pointed to the spot and booked the Inglewood defender. William Gallagher stepped up and sent James Lindsay the wrong way from the resulting penalty, for his 20th goal of the season. They doubled their advantage five minutes from the break, Luca Macri was brought down by Ashton Rebelo 20 meters from goal, and Julian Kelly’s curling free kick crashed off the crossbar, and Boric was quickest to the rebound to fire home from close-range. Both sides had chances after the break but Bayswater held firm to seal the win.
City keeper Preston Gilling said it was a great day for the club, and a tough game. “It was a great battle throughout the course of the game,” he said. “Obviously getting that two-goal buffer before the break set us up well going into the second half so it was all about sustaining the lead and not getting complacent and just playing our football until the final whistle. It is a great feeling to win a treble, because it isn’t done too often in football”
Inglewood United: GK James LINDSAY, 3 Billy VINDEG, 6 Ashton REBELO, 9 Gordon PERKINS, 10 Oliver NIYOBUHUGIRO, 11 Joshua BAIARDO, 12 Ibere KASUKULU, 14 Christopher TILSON, 17 Arad GHALANDARMAHALLEH, 20 Elias WILLIAMS, 21 Daniel RADESKI – Subs: 2 Luke DIXON, 5 Zhan JANKULOVSKI, 7 Luke RADIS, 16 Aleks POPOSKI, 18 Joseph TEIXEIRA
Bayswater City: GK Preston GILLING, 4 Abdul MBANO, 5 Julian KELLY, 6 Cory MCNELIS, 9 Orhan BORIC, 10 Jerome WEST, 11 William GALLAGHER, 12 Ayok AYOK, 14 Luca MACRI, 18 Celeston FULLER, 21 Jethro HAAS – Subs: 3 Trejuan POTTS, 7 Sameer HOURANI, 8 Callum PIPER, 17 Kai TORODE, 25 Darius ANDRES – Referee: Jack MARALDO
JOONDALUP AND QUINNS WIN THROUGH TO TOP FOUR CUP FINAL
It will be Joondalup United against Quinns in the Top Four Cup Final on Sunday, after two tight semi-finals on Thursday evening at Macedonia Park. In the early game on the night Joondalup upset the champions and hosts Stirling Macedonia 2-1. “A great night for the club, to beat the champions on their home ground was fantastic. The boys were superb and executed our game plan to perfection, yes, we may have ridden our luck at times but I feel over the 90 minutes the best team on the night won,” Joondalup coach Nick Jennings said.
“We’ve done half a job and know Sunday will be another huge challenge against an impressive Quinns side who showed great character to come back from the dead last night against the Knights. It’s been a few years since the club have lifted any silverware and we are determined to put it right on Sunday. I have a lot of respect for Glenn and have had many battles over the years with him and look forward to going head-to-head in the final and after the game sharing a beer.”
Joondalup were ahead on 14 minutes, James Oldroyd flicked the ball on to Adam Buckley, who held off his marker before firing past James Bosdet. But the hosts levelled early in the second half, Gyles Davies was brought down 20 meters from goal and from the resulting free kick Alex Tanevski curled the ball up and over the wall and onto the corner of the net. Many expected Stirling to go on with it, but Nick Jennings side had other ideas and they regained the lead 17 minutes from time. Anthony Taylor and Joel Sollitt combined on the edge of the box before Jamie Gardiner finished low under Bosdet.
“It was a great team performance against the newly crowned champions, we all had our jobs to do and I believe we were rewarded for our hard work off the ball,” Joondalup goalscorer Buckley explained. “We knew Stirling would have plenty of the ball but we had our game plan and executed it. As for Sunday’s final against Quinn’s this will be another tough battle, they are a good team who move the ball well. Everyone will have to be prepared again for another tough game, but one thing is for sure it will be a great game (battle of the north).”
In the late game Quinns came from two goals down at the break to beat Western Knights 3-2. “So happy to get the win after being 2-0 down at half time an unbelievable second half performance from the whole team,” Quinns skipper Adam Buckingham said. “Excited to be in the final again against Joondalup, we know it’s not going to be an easy game, but we are fully prepared and ready to get the job done.”
The Knights opened brightly and were ahead on 17 minutes, a poor clearance from Knights keeper Patrick Stephenson, went straight to John Chalmers, whose first-time pass sent Alex Kretowicz in on goal and he finished clinically. They doubled their advantage on the half hour, a short corner was played into the box by Dean Hurley and flicked on by Adam Harris and Cameron Yorke swept the ball home. Quinns found a lifeline on 54 minutes, a long throw by Jackson Dongray was flicked on by Adam Tong and Ben Hinshelwood got on front of his marker to score from close range.
They were level on 71 minutes, Hinshelwood continuing his first stellar season at the club, heading home Dongray’s deep cross. Both sides pressed for the winner but it was Glenn Grostate’s side that found it six minutes from time. Kade Fearnall cross was turned goalward by Hinshelwood but keeper Sam Stone made the block the rebound falling to Declan Hudson who scored from close range to seal the comeback win. “It was another great second half from the lads. We changed the plan at half time and got in their faces more, we knew the next goal was always going to be the winner,” Quinns Owen Goodliffe said.
“We pressed for the entirety of the half and it’s a credit to all the lads that we’ve managed to go undefeated this year against a Knights side with bags of quality. We all know what Joondalup are about, they’re a physical side with quality in the right areas. They’ve had an excellent season and have shown what they’re about consistently this year. I don’t think many people would’ve tipped Quinns and Joondalup in the top four let alone final, but it’s teed up to be an exciting day at Dorrien Gardens.”
NPL-WA TOP FOUR GRAND FINAL PREVIEW
The 2021 NPLWA season comes to an end on Saturday afternoon, as Perth SC host Floreat Athena at Dorrien Gardens, in the Top Four Series Final. (7.00pm) Perth booked their spot last weekend with a big win against Floreat, while Vas Vujacic’s side had to beat Perth Glory 2-1 in Tuesday’s Preliminary Final to seal their spot in the end of season showpiece.
Floreat defender Dennis Galan said the win on Tuesday was a huge improvement on their loss to Perth in the Semi-Final. “After the disappointing loss on Saturday, the lads were determined to make things right for our second chance to reach the final. We ironed a few things out that went wrong in the last game and tried to implement a game plan that would make it difficult for Glory,” he explained. “We knew they would keep the ball very well and create a lot of movement, so we tried to absorb a lot of pressure and make it hard for them to break us down. Fortunately for us, it worked out, and the boys work rate was second to none and was clinical when needed to be. Very proud of all the boys’ efforts after the quick turn around.”
Galan said the player group are determined to show their supporters and the WA football community, their performance last week against Perth was a one off. “Obviously, everyone is buzzing to be in another Grand Final, and these are the games we all want to be a part of,” the defender said. “I believe last week’s game against them was just a really bad day at the office for us, and what better way to prove it than to play them in the final a week later, it should be a great spectacle for all involved.”
Striker Nick Ambrogio echoed the words of his teammate, and said they need to play at their best on Saturday, and he is confident they will. “We needed a response from last weekend’s lethargic performance against Perth and I feel we stepped up Tuesday night,” he said. “We know Glory move the ball nicely and now they mix it up a bit going direct, this adds another weapon to their arsenal but credit to the fellas staying strong and disciplined and coming out deserved winners in my opinion.
“The win tees up a nice rematch against Perth, which will be a mouth-watering encounter. They beat us 4-0 in the 1st vs 2nd play off, and we beat them 4-0 in last year’s final, so it will be a great game. Saturday’s the big dance with neither team there to put socks on centipedes. It’ll come down to who wants it more with both squads equipped with some serious talent, I’m really looking forward to it.”
Perth had a great season, and won the title after chasing Floreat down in the second half of the season, and defender Alex Silla said it continues their positive few years. “We’ve had a really successful last couple of years, and we’ve built this winning culture and it seems no matter who plays young or experienced, that we just keep getting the job done at the business end of the year,” he explained. “It’s a credit not only to the players, but also the coaching staff and the guys behind the scenes, we’ve built something really special at the club.”
Silla said the win against Floreat in the semi-final showed the form they ae in, but is expecting them to hit back on Saturday. “It was a great performance on the weekend and it showed on the scoreboard, we took our chances and, in the end, it was quite a comfortable victory,” he said. “They’ll no doubt be looking to get a bit of revenge this weekend in a game that really matters, but we’re looking to put out a similar performance to last Saturday. They embarrassed in the big dance last year and we will be doing our very best on Saturday to make sure that this year it is us who will be walking out Top Four champions.”
Young Perth defender Lachlan Byrd has been outstanding in his first full season in the senior squad, and he has blended in well with the experienced players they have, and he said it helped him a great deal to settle in the side. “It’s been a superb season for everyone involved, and to come back from where we were, 11 points behind Floreat and storm home like we did was a real testament to the determination and quality of the unit,” he explained. “For myself It’s been unreal journey this year. Being at the club since the inaugural NPL season in U12s, it was always a massive ambition to push into the tremendously successful first team and become a player who can contribute to the team’s success.
“As you say, the translation to first team football was made that much easier by the likes of Bojan, Kieran and Monty, all experienced and quality players in their own right, who have massively influenced and encouraged me every step of the way. As a defender it’s reassuring to have these boys always covering, supporting and backing me up, and I think our defensive record this season (particularly in the second half of the season) is a testament to them and the winning culture they’ve demanded from myself.”
Byrd said Floreat are a very good side, and wouldn’t have liked the heavy loss last week, so he is expecting a fired up opened on Saturday. “I thought it was a dominant and excellent result for us and gives us a real confidence boost to put four past them whilst keeping a clean sheet, and it was nice to earn the mid-week rest, but simply put the jobs not done yet,” the defender said. “As Ramon (Falzon) likes to say, “every game starts 0-0”, and we know the quality and hunger Floreat will bring to the final. The boys are all raring to go, and are mentally and physically prepared for what should be an excellent game of football on Saturday.”
BELT UP AMATEUR LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION - ROUND TWENTY TWO PREVIEW
We head into the penultimate round of the season in the Belt Up Amateur Premier Division and the title race is still to be decided, with only one point separating leaders South West Phoenix and Maddington White City. Our ‘Match of the Round’ takes us to Kelly Park, as Kwinana United host Leeming Strikers. Firstly, there was supposed to be a game in midweek, but the round five catch up game between Kwinana United and Hamersley Rovers at Kelly Park was forfeited by the visitors.
The Strikers found their goalscoring boots last week beating Hamersley 5-1, while Kwinana edged out UWA Nedlands. Kwinana coach Mark Purvis said it was disappointing to miss out on a game in midweek, but he knows Sunday will be another tight game. “It is what it is, Hamersley forfeited the game, and we’re now focused on the game against Leeming on Sunday,” he explained. “We are looking forward to the game, each time we play it’s always a great contest and we hope this week will be no different.”
Leeming coach David Palin said with their survival hopes secured, they are looking forward to the trip to Kelly Park. “We’re looking forward to the game this week, with no pressure on us anymore with us to get wins to stay up, it will be a nice change from the last few weeks,” he said. “We were supposed to play midweek two weeks ago but the pitch wasn't up to referee's high standard, so we got a forfeit for that. It's always a good game between both teams and with Kwinana pushing to finish as high as they can in the league there will be enough in the game to make it more than a dead rubber end of season game, it's always one we look forward too.”
Wembley Downs make the trip to Nikola Tesla Reserve to take on second-placed Maddington White City. The hosts came home with all three points from Jaguar last week, while Wembley were beaten for the first time in seven games, losing at home to North Perth United. Wembley coach said it was disappointing to let their unbeaten run slip, but they will look to bounce back on Sunday.
“It was a frustrating game, we had been in good form for so long, and to not meet our expectation was disappointing, but credit to North Perth, they played well and did what they had to, very deserving of the points,” he said. “Unfortunately, we picked up a number of injuries and playing two games a week for the last month has taken a toll. So, we just want to make sure we finish the season a strongly as we can, starting on Sunday.”
Wembley skipper Juraj Galba said the loss last week was hard to take, but they will look to make emends on Sunday. “I thought we were a bit unfortunate to lose last week, yes, they are a good side and played tactically well, but I thought we deserved to win as for the majority of the game we were better, we just didn't convert our chances. They scored three goals from three shots on target, but it ended our good run, but we still want to finish off the season strong.
“We are all looking forward to this game, especially the atmosphere which is always fantastic at the Maddington's home games. Last time we drew with them so we're going to the game with a lot of confidence that we can match them again. We expect a tough game as the home team has some quality players and still compete for the title, but last year we won there and we want to repeat the same result this year too.”
South West Phoenix open the round on Saturday evening, when they welcome UWA Nedlands to the Onside Sports Stadium in Bunbury. (6.00pm) UWA were narrowly beaten by Kwinana last week, while the Phoenix won a hard-fought game at Quinns, to maintain their lead at the top of the table. Phoenix striker Ababio Bright said last week game was a tough, but they managed to get the win. “Gumblossom is a tough ground and place to play for sure, but our team fought from the first minute of the game and had a couple of decent chances for go ahead prior to scoring the first goal,” he said.
“But in all it was a great game from both sides who played till the end. Especially Phoenix who had to dig deep to keep the score line at 2-1 going down to 10 men in the final minutes of the game and still keeping our chances of promotion alive. We’ve said all year long that no game is easy and especially the next one. We will go in focused and try to maintain the winning run we have a home recently. Hopefully we can maintain top spot going to the final round games.”
In other games this weekend North Perth United host Queens Park at Woodville Reserve at 1.00pm, with the visitors needing a point to keep the spot in the Premier League. Joondalup United need all three points, and Queens Park to lose to stay up, as they host Quinns at Beldon Park, while Jaguar make the trip to Carine Open Space to take on Hamersley Rovers.
NPLWA UNDER 18S AND 20S TOP FOUR GRAND FINAL PREVIEW
The NPLWA under 18s Top four final will see Bayswater City taking on Inglewood United at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday (10.00am) after Bayswater beat Perth SC 4-3 on penalties on Wednesday evening in the Preliminary Final at Frank Drago Reserve. Euan Blair gave the home side the lead 11 minutes from time, but Perth hit back to send it penalties, with Alex Da Rocha levelling six minutes from time.
Bayswater coach Paul Lincoln said it was another tough game against Perth, with keeper Preston Gilling again the star. “The game against Perth was a tight contest and when the outcome is determined by a penalty shootout it’s a raffle and fortunately for us, we get another opportunity against Inglewood on Saturday which the players are relishing after the defeat last Saturday to them,” he said.
“Preston again showed his class, replicating his heroics from the Cup Final. The players keep finding a way to win so all credit to their hard work which started back in November last year. We know Saturday will be tough, they (Inglewood) are a physical side, who also have had a terrific season but are yet to win anything so we hope that we can reverse the result from the last time we met and add a third trophy to the cabinet and cap off a remarkable season.”
Inglewood coach Alex Stanojevic said it’s been a very competitive season, and they are looking forward to another competitive game against Bayswater on Saturday morning. “We always have good games against Bayswater, we lost by the single goal against them in the league earlier in the season, so it was nice to get that result back in last week’s semi-final,” he said.
“It’s good to see the top four final is first v’s second, the two best teams from the season. I think Saturday will be a cracker of a game, obviously both sides want to win, the rivalry between us has been good, and we played them a number of times, including the pre-season, so it should a great game to watch, and I hope there is a big crowd to watch it.”
The under 20s final will also involve Bayswater City, who will take on Perth Glory at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday. (2.30pm) This after Glory beat Floreat Athena 4-2 on Wednesday evening at Crazy Domains Stadium, Hartfield Park in the Preliminary final. It was a goal feast in the first half, Joseph Hobson gave the hosts the lead early, but Robert Ferrante levelled for Floreat moments later. Hobson added his second from the spot, before Judd MacDougall made it 3-1 to Glory, but Ferrante added his second from the spot to make it 3-2 at the break.
But it was Hobson who won it for Chris Coyne’s side, completing his hat trick with another penalty 14 minutes from time. “Everyone is looking forward to another challenge on Saturday against a very good Bayswater team,” Coyne said. “It’s a great opportunity for these players to play under pressure and will only enhance their development. The poor scheduling of these finals games will make it very tough for our extremely young group however, they will be ready come Saturday.”
Bayswater coach Alun Vernals said Saturday game against Perth Glory will be another tight one like their semi-final was. “It was a strong victory on Saturday, but we possibly wasted a few too many good chances but was still good value for the win,” he said. “We’re looking to finish the season on a high note, as the lads have been good all year and are one game from defending the top four cup. It’s the two best teams in the league so should be a good showcase of the best talent.”
STATE LEAGUE DIVISION ONE TOP FOUR SEMI FINALS PREVIEW
We head into the State League Division One Top Four Finals Series tonight, and both semi-finals will be held at Macedonia Park, and first up Champions Stirling Macedonia host Joondalup United. (6.30pm) The home sides romped to the title by 15 points and gaining promotion to the NPLWA next season, but this is a cup tie and Joondalup, who also have had a good season finishing fourth, will fancy their chances of getting a result in a one-off game.
It’s been a successful season for Stirling, and for striker Gavin Knight, who bagged 20 goals, and he said it was amazing to be a part of. “This season has been amazing, from the first game of season against Mandurah we had a great feeling we would do well this season,” he said. “But with the team spirit we have at the club it gives us a lot of confidence and that is a good reason why we were unbeaten for the last 18/19 games. And to win the league with four games to go as well was a great achievement and the club deserve to be in the NPL.”
Knight said tonight’s game will be tight, it’s a cup tie, and anything can happen, but they are certainly looking to progress to the final on Sunday. “Tonight’s game against Joondalup will be a tough one, and we played them a few weeks ago and they gave us a good game,” the striker explained. “So, we shouldn’t underestimate them, but if we play the way we can, then we should make it to the final on Sunday.”
Joondalup Coach Nick Jennings said their successful season has been two-years in the making, and he has been pleased with his sides endeavour during the season. “This season we’ve built on the solid foundations laid in the previous two years, and shown we are back as a top contender at state league level,” he explained. “We spoke at the start of the season and our minimum aim was to make the top four cup which we have obviously achieved, so I’m delighted for the players their efforts and hard work has been rewarded.”
Jennings said a trip to the Champions in the semi-final is a tough assignment, but he knows they can match it with anyone on their day, and his players are relishing the challenge. “To play the champions and best team by a mile at their home ground is a huge challenge but one we will be up for,” he said. “It’s a one-off game and the boys are ready, and we will stand toe to toe with Stirling and look to progress to the final on Sunday, I’m really looking forward to it.”
In tonight’s late game, second placed Western Knights take on third placed Quinns. (8.30pm) The two sides meet in the final game of the regular season, with Quinns scoring late to win 3-2, and this one should be another tight affair. It’s been a great season for Glenn Grostate’s side in only their second season in the division, while the Knights will also be looking to end the season on a high with some silverware.
Quinns’ Ben Hinshelwood has been a big signing, the former ECU Joondalup striker has bagged 22 goals in his first season at Gumblossom Park, and he said to beat the Knights last week will give them a huge boost heading into tonight’s game. “It was a massive win for us all the boys have worked hard this season and to go and cap it off with third place on the final game week was a bonus,” he said.
“It was really a game of two halves with the conditions playing a big part for both teams we went into half time 1-0 down but came out in the second half with the conditions to our favour and put out a good showing. With Second half goals from Owen and two from myself one in the last minute we sealed the win on the day. The result against the Knights has really given a lot of the lads confidence especially playing them again tonight in the top four semi-final.”
Knights coach Ivan Zuvela said the season has had its ups and downs, but he said to finish second was great rewards, but the title winners were too good. “I firstly want to congratulate Ian Ferguson and the Stirling team for winning the league. They are a fantastic side and their performances throughout the season proved that,” he said. “Also, credit to Luke Pavlos, who has done wonders for the club off the field, and I genuinely wish the club all the best in the NPL next season.
“For us we are ultimately disappointed not to win the league, however coming second in this very tough league is still a good achievement. I’m so thankful to the coaching group of Adam Kostrencic and Beto Medrano, and I’m so proud of every player. They gave it everything this year, and the culture amongst the team is the best I have ever seen throughout my time at the Knights, including as a player.”
Zuvela said tonight will be another tight game, like it was on Saturday in the league. “We are all looking forward to the semi-final against Quinns. They are strong all over the park and in particular in the front third they are very clinical,” he explained. “We played them on the weekend and they are a very good side, so if the game is half as good as that game, it should be an entertaining one.”
STATE LEAGUE DIVISION ONE 18S AND RESERVES TOP FOUR SEMI FINAL REVIEW
The under 18s and reserves Top Four Series semi-finals were held on Wednesday evening, with Stirling Macedonia and Subiaco moving through to Sunday’s reserves final. In the first game at Macedonia Park, goals from Shuto Gozu, Reece Corrigan and Adrian Koios gave Stirling a 3-0 win against UWA Nedlands. In the late game at Wauhop Park, Subiaco edged out Fremantle City 3-2. City raced to a two-goal lead with Alfred Moore and Bill Orr scoring. But Lachlan Hannah pulled one back for Subiaco before half time, before a brace from Ethan Johnson, including the stoppage time winner from the spot.
It will be Subiaco against Fremantle City in Sunday’s 18s top four final, after both won their semi-finals in midweek. First at Kingsway Reserve on Tuesday evening, Subiaco beat hosts Olympic Kingsway 3-2 on penalties. The game ended in a 1-1 draw in normal time, Lazar Spasojevic had given Subiaco the lead, with Olympic equalising with an own goal. Then on Wednesday evening at Crazy Domains Stadium, at Hartfield Park Fremantle City edged out hosts Forrestfield United 2-1. Henry Wylde and Finley Greenwood gave City the lead at the break, and despite Amro Atta pulling one back for the hosts, City held on to move into the final.
LAWRENCE RETURNS TO GLORY WOMEN
Sadie Lawrence has returned to Perth Glory Women - nine years after her last outing for the team. The 28-year old midfielder, a former Australia under-20 representative, scored 10 goals in 21 games for Murdoch University Melville in the recently National Premier Leagues.
Lawrence, who played 17 times for Glory between 2009 and 2012, is excited at the prospect of re-igniting her W-League career. “To be back playing for Glory is something that I’ve wanted for such a long time and I couldn’t be happier or more grateful to have this opportunity,” Lawrence said.
“My aim is to just play the best football I possibly can and do the best for my home-state club. I’m really looking forward to working with (coach) Alex Epakis and hopefully I can help get the club to where it wants to be.”
Epakis said Lawrence can make a major contribution in the new campaign. “I am ecstatic to have Sadie back at Perth Glory this season,” Epakis said. “She has previously represented the club very proudly and will add a further level of depth and quality to our spine this year.”
“I have been watching the NPLW WA very closely this season and she has been a consistent stand-out player. I believe she has the mind-set and leadership qualities to be a really valued member of our squad.” The 2021/22 W-League season is scheduled to commence in mid-November.
EAST BENGAL SECURE MRCELA
SC East Bengal have secured former Perth Glory defender Tomislav Mrcela for the upcoming Indian Super League season. The towering centre-back joins East Bengal on a one-year deal as coach Manuel Diaz's second foreign signing for the 2021/22 campaign, after Slovenian midfielder Amir Dervisevic
"I have got good feedback about the club. I have friends who have played in India and also know a thing or two about the club, and they tell me how big it is in this part of the world," said Mrcela after putting pen-to-paper with East Bengal.
"I will look to add experience at the heart of the defence and take care of the locker room as well. The atmosphere within the team is very important and I will leave no stone unturned in doing what needs to be done for the team's benefit... I can't wait to start the season."
Perth-born Mrcela grew up in Croatia where he played youth football for RNK Split before featuring for the firt teams at Jadran Kastel, Primorac 1929, Imotski, Mosor, Hrvatski Dragovoljac and Lokomotiva. He joined South Korean club Jeonnam Dragons in 2016 and two seasons later switched to Glory.
GARCIA PRESENTED WITH PLENTY OF CHALLENGES IN 25TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON
New squad, new home, fresh hope - but uncertainty lingers over of what lies ahead for Perth Glory as they prepare for their 25th anniversary season. Coach Richard Garcia believes they are better-placed after the disappointment of missing out on last season’s finals in a grim COVID-hit A-League campaign, two years after winning the Premier’s Plate.
Garcia is preparing the squad for the planned October 30 start but already there are suggestions it could now be pushed back until after November’s international break. He believes a year of quarantines, hubs, long spells from home, short turnarounds between games has left players better equipped to face any challenge thrown at them.
“When I took over it wasn’t just one or two people we had to change it was a whole load of people,” said Garcia in his second season in charge. “We had to get though a huge amount of work in a small time, getting a team up and running, trying to get the players back on board, going into hubs, playing with lack of preparation. It was physically and mentally very hard.”
Now eight weeks into training Garcia said it was a “breath of fresh air” to be able to work into the season. “The boys are focused on getting themselves fit and ready for whatever comes their way,” he said. “There are going to be challenges. Things are not always going to go to plan. If changes happen we will have plans B and C rather than have to make decisions on the run.”
“If we have to go through it again I would like to think that we will be better prepared. For now we are preparing as if we’re kicking off the season on the start date but who knows what might change. It might be a completely different story. The experiences from last year with travel, injuries all the adjustment we had to make, we want to be prepared so if we need to make change we can do it.”
Making the finals after last season’s disappointment is the obvious aim but Garcia has not yet set any targets. “We just want players to focus on getting better, to improve mentally and physically every day,” he said. “The results will follow. If we are at our best every day it becomes a habit and that leads to finals. We’re a good chance.”
Strikers Chris Ikonomidis and Nick D’Agostino, defenders Jason Geria, Dane Ingham and Sebastian Langkamp, midfielders Neil Kilkenny, Nick Sullivan and Brandon Wilson are among those who have moved on. But Garcia has been busy in the player market adding Spanish flair with striker Adrian Sardinero, former Socceroos Brandon O’Neill and Brad Jones, defensive trio Jack Clisby, Aaron Calver and Antonee Burke-Gilroy plus winger Pacifique Niyongabire.
But they have already been hit by injury with forward Carlo Armiento gone for at least six months after rupturing his ACL and veteran goalkeeper Liam Reddy expected to miss the first month of the season as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Garcia admits versatility is going to be key this season with a limited budget and a smaller squad.
“We’ll look at maybe one or two more players, there are a couple of areas we still need to strengthen,” the coach said. “We probably still need a little bit going forward, an attacking midfielder. We’ve got depth but it’s about the front line, getting it for (Andy) Keogh and (Bruno) Fornaroli. With a smaller squad you need to have people who are adaptable and can play in more than one position.”
The big question being asked by Glory fans is whether star midfielder Diego Castro will be back for another season. The answer is predictable. “We are still in negotiations. He’s a tough negotiator,” Garcia said of the Spaniard, who has chalked up 125 appearances since joining Glory in 2015. “Of course we want him back if possible. He’s a legend of the club.”
Garcia maintains the club needs to build a long-term sustainable future using home grown talent. But he is realistic enough to know it can’t be done on local flair alone. “We need to have a good balance,” he said. “We want to give young local players the chance to prove themselves but they need experience around them. It puts a lot of weight on young shoulders otherwise.”
FLOREAT BOUNCE BACK TO DOWN GLORY
It’s finals weekend in the NPL, with Champions Perth SC taking on Floreat Athena at Dorrien Gardens in the Top Four Final at Dorrien Gardens, after Floreat reached the showpiece game with a hard fought 2-1 win against Perth Glory in the Preliminary Final at E&D Litis Stadium on Tuesday evening. Floreat were ahead at the break after an own goal from Glory defender Aidan Coyne, and Robert Harding doubled their lead early in the second half. Ciaran Bramwell scored to give the Glory youngsters hope late, but Floreat held on.
“It was a tough, but an enjoyable game, and we fought hard for each other and made sure to stick out the win so we can get into another cup final this season,” Floreat’s Sean McManus said. “Personally, I was pleased with my game, getting the first goal and an assist for Robbie (Harding) for the second, but the main aim was to get the result to play Perth in the final which the boys are looking forward too.”
The hosts were on top early and Chris Saldaris found the crossbar, before they opened the scoring on 13 minutes. Saldaris found McManus on the edge of the penalty area and his low shot took a wicked deflection off Coyne, wrong footing Cameron Cook. Adam Zimarino saw his shot flash wide, as Glory looked for a response, while at the other end Nick Ambrogio headed straight at Cook when well placed.
But four minutes into the second half the hosts doubled their advantage. Marco Santalucia sent the lively McManus down the left and he eased past his marker and pulled the ball back from the by-line for Harding to fire home, via the crossbar. Glory lifted the tempo and Charlie Leech forced a smart save from Thomas Chudy, and Zimarino saw an effort deflected over the top.
Glory found a lifeline six minutes from time, a short corner routine ended with Giordano Colli’s ball into the penalty area that Floreat failed to clear, and Bramwell forced the ball home in the goalmouth scramble. Glory sent players forward in search of the equaliser, but Floreat held firm to seal their place in the Final.
Match Details - Top Four Cup Preliminary Final
Floreat Athena 2 (OG 13', Harding 49') Perth Glory 1 (Bramwell 84')
Tuesday September 14, 2021
E&D Litis Stadium
Kick off 7.00pm
Referee: Josh Mannella
Assistants: Shane Skinner, Simon Hicks
Floreat Athena: GK Thomas CHUDY, 2 Marco SANTALUCIA, 6 Jesse FULLER (19 Ethan MOM 46'), 8 Sean MCMANUS, 9 Robert HARDING (4 Ben STEELE 77'), 10 Nick AMBROGIO, 11 Dennis GALAN, 13 George FESTA, 15 Chris SALDARIS, 18 Phil ARNOLD, 20 Andrew PALMER - Subs not used: RGK Theo SARRIS, 14 Laat MATHIANG, 16 Kyle MURRAY
Perth Glory: GK Cameron COOK, 2 Will FORMSTON (7 Charlie LEECH 55'), 3 Jacob MUIR, 4 Aidan COYNE, 5 Joseph FORDE, 6 Chris DONNELL, 8 Aidan EDWARDS (20 Jack ANDREWS 55'), 9 Ciaran BRAMWELL, 10 Giordano COLLI, 11 Adam ZIMARINO, 18 Tyler VECCHIO (17 Josh ANASMO 46') - Subs not used: RGK Sam REILLY, 14 Joel ANASMO
HARNWELL RESIGNS AS SORRENTO COACH
Sorrento have announced club legend Jamie Harnwell has stepped down from his role as first team coach. Harnwell, whose association with the northern suburbs club stems back to his days as a junior, took up the coaching reins in 2014 after calling time on a highly successful playing career which included 256 games for Perth Glory.
"It was an extremely difficult decision to step down as I have thoroughly enjoyed my time coaching over the past seven years. Unfortunately my family and work commitments have increased to the point where it just isn't possible to continue," explained Harnwell, who is Chief Football Officer with Football West.
"I would like to thank all of the staff and players over this time for their dedication and in particular Steve Neville, who has been unwavering in his support and help he has provided me. I would also like to thank the club and committee for all of their support. I leave with the comfort that we have a great squad that can continue to challenge for trophies next season."
Harnwell guided Sorrento to victory in the 2015 State Cup Final when they defeated Perth SC 2-0. Also ranking high on Harnwell’s highlights reel was the 2017 FFA Cup success over Canberra Olympic, a result which made Sorrento the first West Australian club to qualify for that tournament’s Round of 16.
Sorrento's senior vice-president Alan Gray thanked Harnwell for his commitment over the past seven years. "The club is deeply appreciative of the work that Jamie and his staff have done over the years and the great occasions that have been provided," Gray commented. "Jamie steps down with our blessing and best wishes for his next chapter."
BELT UP AMATEUR LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION - ROUND TWENTY ONE REVIEW
With two rounds remaining it's still neck and neck for the title and promotion to Saturday football in the Belt Up Amateur Premier Division, with South West Phoenix and Maddington White City both winning their respective games on the road in Week 21. Current leaders Phoenix travelled to Gumblossom Park to take on fourth placed Quinns and returned with a hard fought 2-1 win. “I thought we controlled the game most of the time, but Quinns pushed hard and created chances,” Phoenix coach Nick Carter said. “Quinns away is always hard so to come out with three points we are very happy with.”
The visitors had a number of chances in the first half that they failed to take, likewise the home side, but on the stroke of half time Phoenix did find the opener. Corey Barclay latched onto a though ball, before turning the defender and finishing at the keepers near post. They doubled their advantage early in the second half, Kieran Quinn picked the ball up about 20 meters out and stuck it low and hard into the bottom corner. Quinns lifted and created a number of chances of their own and they reduced the margin on 68 minutes.
A ball into the box was finished by Ryan McCready, his 26th goal of the season. They pressed late looking for the equaliser but Phoenix held firm to take a valuable three points, despite being reduced to ten men late when Franco Van Zyl sent off by referee Simon Hicks. “Overall, it was another good performance, we knew it would be tough as was our first game against Quinns,” Phoenix skipper Jamie Oakey said. “To be fair it could’ve been another 5-4 game, with both teams having a lot of chances. The most important thing was the three points though in our last away game, we now look forward to two home games to finish the season off strongly.”
Meanwhile Maddington kept up the pressure on Phoenix, with a 4-1 win against a ten-man Jaguar at Herb Graham Recreation Centre, to remain one point behind them. They were ahead on 37 minutes, a corner from David Sarria was headed home by Gaston Bazet. The hosts were reduced to ten men five minutes before half time, when Deng Akol was sent off by referee David Avison. But in stoppage time the Jags levelled, with Gojam Nyuon scoring from a free kick. City should have regained the lead early in the second half when Bazat was brought down in the box, but Jags keeper Michael Dudek, who was outstanding all afternoon, guessed the right way to save Bazet’s spot kick.
But 20 minutes from time City did find a second, skipper Cesar Orozco stabbing home from close-range. It was 3-1 minutes later, David Sarria made a run into the box and to the by-line, before he cut the ball back for Jose Zuniga to score. Zuniga was on target again in stoppage time, scoring from the penalty spot after Jhonatan Barbosa was brought down in the box, it was his 17th goal of the season. “On one hand we are happy with the win as it was another good performance by the team. On the other hand, Bunbury won again so there is not much to celebrate,” Maddington’s Petar Mrdja said. “I think they have pretty much won the league with that win as I can’t see UWA or Kwinana taking points from them now, we'll look to take out our frustration on Wembley at home next Sunday.”
It was a vital game in the relegation fight at Coker Park as Queens Park hosted Joondalup United with both wanting the win to help avoid the drop, but the game ended in a 0-0 draw. The point helps the hosts more than the visitors, Joondalup now sit four points off safety with two games remaining, so they must pick up a win next week to keep their hopes alive and hope Queens Park don’t win. “It was very disappointing to only come away with a point from a game we had to win but we could still be playing now without scoring, and that's been an issue all season,” Joondalup coach Neil Sherwin explained. “Queens Park played well and were very dangerous on the break but I was happy with our defensive effort to finally get that first clean sheet. Unfortunately, we couldn't put the ball in the net and that leaves us needing a lot of things to go our way in the final two rounds.”
Queens Park coach Ricardo Fynn said the performance of his side was very disciplined. “I thought It was a very entertaining draw, and it was our most difficult game this season because if we lost our fate would no longer be in our own hands,” he said. “Joondalup were fantastic yesterday, and I have always said they are coached by a very good coach and a bunch of quality lads who play for club and coach. Our boys were very well prepared, showed very good defensive discipline and were unlucky not to get all three points on the day. Joondalup gave us a few very nervy moments as well but both teams cancelled each other's efforts out. So, over the 90 minutes of football a draw was a very fair result but is obviously a better result for us who are four points clear with two games remaining.”
In other games on Sunday Kwinana United consolidated third spot after a 2-1 win against UWA Nedlands at the UWA Sport Park. Kwinana were ahead on 13 minutes, with Lee Bates finishing off a good team move. They doubled their lead in the shadows of half time, Bates firing home from a free kick. The hosts were reduced to ten men early in the second half when Manuel Piccinini was shown a second yellow card by referee David Bruce, but they did score a late consolation goal in the final minute, with Abel Thomas-Hy scoring from the spot. “I was happy with how we played, and like a lot of teams at this time we are thin on the ground for players,” Kwinana coach Mark Purvis said. “So, there were a few changes to personal and a change in shape so for the boys to take that on and get the three points was extremely pleasing.”
North Perth United are up to fifth after a 3-1 win against Wembley Downs at Butlers Reserve. The visitors found the breakthrough on the half hour, a cross from the right by Alex Corner, picked out Kyran Broadhurst who made no mistake, heading home. They doubled their lead just before the hour, Broadhurst playing Andy O’Neill through on goal, and the striker fired into the roof of the net. It was 3-0 on 68 minutes, Broadhurst and O’Neill combined again, O’Neill’s cross shot found Javier Pineres Mestre who turned it home.
Wembley pulled one back seven minutes later, with Lachlan Chamberlain’s half volley beat Todd Ross. Moments later they were awarded a penalty, but Ross guessed the right way to save. “It was good to be able to back up the performance from Wednesday night at Queens Park, it’s never easy to play three games in seven days so full credit to the lads they battled and got their rewards,” United’s coach Luke O’Neill said. “Hopefully we can continue that for the rest of the season and look forward to our last home fixture next weekend.”
In the final game Leeming Strikers were the big winners this weekend, beating Hamersley Rovers 5-1 at John Connell Reserve. The home side were ahead six minutes before half time, a cross from Mike Maratea was flicked on by Ben Greaves, which hit the unfortunate Hamersley defender Jack Schyman, and diverted it in for an own goal. But Rovers hit back and levelled in the final minute, Jakub Vychytil on target. But Leeming regained the lead on the hour, Andy Jennings received the ball outside the box beat a player before squaring to David Palin who finished into the corner from 15 meters.
The hosts then took control adding three more goals. It was 3-1 six minutes later, Cameron Anderson was played though and finished low into the bottom corner. It was soon 4-1, Anderson beat a player down the line before squaring for Kieran Witt who tapped in from close-range. Leeming rounded of the scoring in the final minute, Palin controlled on the edge of the box, his shot hit the crossbar before bouncing down and spinning back into the net.
“First half was an end-to-end game, both teams had a case to say they should have been in front but we found ourselves all square at half time. Second half we came out and started well, the press started working for us and we got the goals from working a little harder and getting a bit more pressure on the ball carrier it was certainly,” Leeming player/coach Palin explained. “The Hammers kept trying to play and get at us, it's obviously been a tough season for them but they never gave up and credit to them. That now makes us mathematically safe, which will allow us to enjoy the last two games and we hope to do that with a couple of wins.”
SOCCEROOS ‘ARE LIKE BROTHERS’: SAINSBURY
Defender Trent Sainsbury was full of praise for the Socceroos’ spirit that helped his side secure a historic tenth victory in a row. Despite the hot and humid conditions in Hanoi, Australia became the first nation in the AFC to win ten consecutive qualification matches in a single qualification campaign by defeating Vietnam 1-0 on Tuesday night.
While the Socceroos of 2019-to-2021 are also just the second senior Australian men’s national team in the 99-year history of the Socceroos to win 10 ‘A’ international matches in a row, Sainsbury insisted there is more to come. “We click so quickly when we get to camp because we are like brothers,” Sainsbury explained.
“And when a new player comes in, we give them a welcome to the family. I think when we play on a good pitch, we can outplay any team in the world. I’m looking forward to playing some good pitches with this team because we can produce some exciting football and score some good goals.”
Following the hard-fought 1-0 victory - achieved courtesy of Rhyan Grant’s 43rd-minute header - Sainsbury praised the Socceroos performance despite the difficult playing conditions. “We always knew it was going to be difficult coming here to Vietnam,” Sainsbury said. “We were causing them a little bit of a problem with those balls over the top in the first half.
“We didn’t really do much in the second half, we kind of took our foot off the gas. They had a couple of half-chances and were getting a little bit desperate on the counter-attack but overall, three points away in Vietnam and a clean sheet, I’ll take that every day of the week.”
Victory against Vietnam gives Australia six points from a possible six to kick-off the Final Round of World Cup qualifying. There are still four matches to play in 2021, with games against Oman and Japan scheduled for October, and Saudi Arabia and China PR on the radar to round out the year.
PERTH TOO STRONG FOR FLOREAT
The NPLWA Champions Perth SC flexed their muscles on Saturday in the Top Four major Semi-Final, and were too strong for Floreat Athena, running out 4-0 winners at the Inglewood Stadium. First half goals to Calvin Whitney and returning striker Cameron Teece put Ramon Falzon’s side in control, and Teece added a second after the break with Yagoub Mustafa adding the fourth late. The win sees Perth move straight into next week’s Grand Final, while Floreat take on Perth Glory in the Preliminary Final on Tuesday. “It was a really good performance from start to finish,” Teece said. “I thought it was a very comfortable win, and the boys played great and we got the goals to show for it, and yes it was nice to grab a couple goals on my return.”
The sides had met twice this season with both sides winning one each in tight encounters, but it was Perth who made the better start in this one and were ahead on eight minutes. Great work down the right by Michael Domfeh, and he cut the ball back to Whitney who found the bottom corner. Floreat looked for an immediate response and Chris Saldaris’ shot after a goalmouth scramble deflected just wide. But on 19 minutes the Champions added a second. A long clearance from Alex Silla sent Teece racing clear and he lobbed the on-coming Theodore Sarris, to double their advantage. Floreat needed to hit back, and they went close on 34 minutes, Perth failed to clear a corner and George Festa’s overhead kick was headed wide at the back post by Phil Arnold. It was Floreat’s best period of the game and Sean McManus shot from the edge of the box was saved by Ryan Montgomery. But try ae they might they couldn’t break down a Perth defence superbly led by skipper Bojan Radinovic and at the break they had all the work to do in the second half.
Floreat opened the second, like they finished the first and Andrew Palmer’s cross to the back post was headed wide by an unmarked Saldaris. But Perth showed them how to do it, when they added a third on the hour. Whitney’s corner found Teece, who powered his header home from five meters. Floreat weren’t going down without a fight and three minutes later Ludovic Boi’s free kick crashed off the crossbar, before Montgomery tipped the rebound over the top. From the resulting corner Boi’s snap shot from the edge of the box was well saved by Montgomery.
Both sides went to the bench with games coming up next week, but both sides had good chances. First Radinovic’s overhead kick flashed over the top, before Arnold shot was saved well by Montgomery. But in the second minute of stoppage time, Perth added their fourth. Whitney sliding Mustafa in down the right and he finished clinically past Sarris, and celebrated with and acrobatic back flip. “I think it was dominate performance for the boys and proved why we won the league,” Perth midfielder Calvin Whitney said. “I was happy how the team played and the work rate was high, so in the end a well-deserved win and hopefully keep the momentum for the final.’
Match Details - Top Four Cup Major Semi-Final
Perth SC 4 (Whitney 8’, Teece 19’, 62’, Mustafa 92’) Floreat Athena 0
Saturday September 11, 2021
Venue: Inglewood Stadium
Referee: David Bruce
Assistants: Julian Serra, Joshua Nixon
Perth SC: GK Ryan MONTGOMERY, 2 Alex SILLA (12 Sam FLORES 88’), 4 Lachlan BYRD, 6 Nik MCDONALD (15 Will GORDON 88’), 9 Cameron TEECE (3 Jordan DE LEO 73’), 10 Michael DOMFEH, 11 Yagoub MUSTAFA, 13 Calvin WHITNEY, 16 Kieran COLWELL 19 Bojan RADINOVIC 22 Kristian SANTICH (18 Federico ACHILLI 79’) – Subs not used: RGK Adrian SINAGRA
Floreat Athena: GK Theodore SARRIS, 4 Ben STEELE, 6 Jesse FULLER, 8 Sean MCMANUS, 10 Nick AMBROGIO, 11 Dennis GALAN (2 Marco SANTALUCIA 62’), 13 George FESTA, 14 Ludovic BOI (9 Robert HARDING 62’), 15 Chris SALDARIS (21 Ethan MOM 79’), 18 Phil ARNOLD (16 Kyle MURRAY 79’), 20 Andrew PALMER - Subs not used: RGK Jake LUMPKIN
GLORY BEAT SORRENTO IN EXTRA TIME
Perth Glory have moved into the Preliminary Final on Tuesday evening after an 3-1 win against Sorrento after extra time at Percy Doyle Reserve. The hosts were ahead just after the half hour mark, with Chris Jackson scoring, but Glory were level shortly after, with Joshua Anasmo scoring. Both sides had chances in normal time, but it was off to extra time and Charlie Leech scored early to give Glory the advantage. Adam Zimarino added a third late in the first half of extra time to seal the win, and the hosts were reduced to ten men when Jackson was sent off late. “It was a very tough battle but I think we showed great character to come back and play the football that we did on that pitch,” Glory skipper Giordano Colli explained. “Now its full focus for the game on Tuesday night against Floreat that will be another tough test but we will be ready for the fight and hope to get the win.”
It was a cagey opening to the game, with so much on the line for both clubs, the winner moving through and the loser seeing their season over. Both sides had early chances, first a long throw from Jordan Brown was headed goalward by Jackson, but it was straight at Glory keeper Cameron Cook. Moments later Joseph Forde’s surging run down the left saw him cut inside his marker and his shot on the run flashed the wrong side of the upright. The Gulls were creating the better chances and on 22 minutes they had the best opening of the game. Jackson burst down the right and his low cross picked out Alex Morgan, whose close-range shot was well saved by Cook at his near post. Moments later they created another good chance, Ollie Annis’ cross was headed wide by Jackson. Sorrento was making all the running and on the half hour Mark Morgan burst into right of the penalty area and he cut the ball back to Dean Cummings whose shot was cleared off the line by the alert Aidan Coyne. But the hosts pressure was rewarded with the lead four minutes later.
Brown’s long throw wasn’t dealt with by Glory and Jackson swept the ball home from eight meters and raced off to celebrate and held up a DH7 shirt message in support of his mate Danny Hodgson, who is still in a coma after a one punch attack last weekend. But their lead didn’t last long and with their first shot on target for the game Glory levelled six minutes later. Adam Zimarino cut in from the right and his low shot was parried by Connor Campbell and Anasmo nipped in to fire home the rebound from close range. Both sides had late chances before the break, first Zimarino goal bound shot from the edge of the box was deflected wide, before Jackson’s shot on the run drifted wide at the other end, but at the break it was all to play for.
After the break, the game opened up significantly. Brown's header crashing off the underside of the Glory bar and away to safety, before Cook pushed Jackson's effort around the post. Glory also threatened. Giordano Colli's free-kick was palmed away by Campbell and Zimarino hit the side netting. Sorrento had one final chance deep into stoppage time, but Tim Hill couldn’t keep his effort down after Glory failed to clear a corner, so it was off to extra-time. Glory needed just three minutes of the first period of extra time to find the lead. Substitute Tyler Vecchio crossed from the bye-line and Leech was on hand to head home.
Sorrento looked for an equaliser immediately, and thought they had found it when Jackson's volley beat Cook, but the offside flag was up and the goal was ruled out. It was end-to-end football, but Perth was creating the better chances, the best falling to Colli, whose shot was well saved by Campbell. But Glory found the third in the final minutes of the first period, William Formston's pass found Zimarino and the striker finished across Campbell to all but seal the tie. Sorrento pushed in the second half, but they could find a way back into the game and it went from bad to worse for the Gulls, when Jackson was shown a straight red card by referee Shane Skinner for an incident involving Glory keeper Cook.
It sets up a Preliminary Final against Floreat at E&D Litis Stadium on Tuesday evening, the winner to take on Perth SC in next weekend’s Grand Final. “It was a great game and we fought really hard against a tough Sorrento team to get the result, the boys put in a great shift both on the ball and off the ball and our strong mentality is what got us the win in the end,” midfielder Charlie Leech said. “We are now fully focused on the game on Tuesday night against a strong floreat and we are eager as a group to go another step forward and go all the way to the end.”
Match Details - Top Four Cup Minor Semi-Final
Sorrento 1 (Jackson 34’) Perth Glory 3 (Joshua Anasmo 41’, Leech 93’, Zimarino 102’)
Saturday September 11, 2021
Venue: Percy Doyle Reserve
Referee: Shane Skinner
Assistants: Michal Jasinski, Troy Malatesta
Sorrento: GK Connor CAMPBELL, 2 David STOKOE, 4 Shaun KILKELLY (19 Jaxon TEMATA 106’), 6 Chris JACKSON, 7 Alex MORGAN, 10 Ollie ANNIS (14 Jordan POKLER 102’), 11 Tim HILL (3 Daniel FAICHNEY 102’), 15 Tristan STEVENS, 17 Dean CUMMINGS, 18 Jordan BROWN, 20 Jordan ROBERTS (8 Scott WITSCHGE 69’) – Subs not used: RGK Matthew GIUDICATTI – Red Card: Jackson 122’
Perth Glory: GK Cameron COOK, 3 Jacob MUIR, 4 Aidan COYNE, 5 Joseph FORDE, 6 Chris DONNELL, 7 Charlie LEECH, 9 Ciaran BRAMWELL (18 Tyler VECCHIO 90’), 10 Giordano COLLI, 11 Adam ZIMARINO (8 Aiden EDWARDS 103’), 17 Joshua ANASMO (15 Joel ANASMO 108’), 22 Jack PAINTER-ANDREWS (12 William FORMSTON 90’) - Subs not used: RGK Sam REILLY
STATE LEAGUE DIVISION ONE ROUND TWENTY TWO – REVIEW
Ashfield will be playing Division Two football next season after the final round of State League Division One fixtures on Saturday. Ashfield needed a win at Olympic Kingsway and results elsewhere to go their way to avoid relegation but they found themselves behind six minutes before half time at Kingsway Reserve, Asa Sippits slipping in Harry Evans who fired past Jamie Serra. Ashfield pressed looking for a way back into the game, but their relegation was sealed when Olympic added a second nine minutes from time. James Fanelli made space down the right and pulled the ball back to Riley Gordon, who fired home his first goal for the season. “It was great way to finish the season with a well-deserved victory,” Olympic coach David Tough said. “The game was a bit like our season, where at times we played some great football, but missed far too many chances.”
That result meant Swan United have avoided automatic relegation, but will have to go in the play-offs, after a 2-1 defeat against Champions Stirling Macedonia at Macedonia Park. Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Stirling on winning the league and gaining promotion to the NPL, and of course we knew that this would be a difficult game and against the run of play we were able to go into the break with the lead,” Swan coach Dan Evans explained. “Unfortunately, we were unable to hold on and disappointingly we conceded with the last kick of the game to lose. If you consider the chances, we created we were very unlucky not to get something out of the game. We were unable to convert three one on one chances and the main difference was that Stirling were able to find a way to win late on. That’s why they finished where they finished. Despite the loss the important thing for us was that results went our way and we secured a playoff spot. The boys were delighted with that but felt hard done by to get nothing out of the game. We now shift focus to the playoffs and I’ve got no doubt that if we are prepared to work as hard as we’ve worked in the last month then we will secure our status in this division.”
The black and whites hit the front on 35 minutes, Alex Young finding Brennan Borzecki, who brought the ball down well before finding the bottom corner. The hosts levelled things up just after the hour mar, Swans failed to clear a corner and skipper Dejan Spaseski volleyed home from 10 meters. It looked like United would leave with a hard-earned point, but with the last kick of the game Stirling won it. Sam Wynne dribbled into the box, and his shot was parried by Nick Stone and Alex Taneski fired home from close-range. “It was a good result and a tough game,” Stirling keeper James Bosdet said. “Swan were physical and played to their strengths and restricted us to minimal chances. Good to get the win in the end and give us some momentum going into the top four finals.”
Western Knights secured the runners-up spot, despite losing 3-2 to Quinns at Gumblossom Park. The Knights made a good start and were ahead on 25 minutes, Matthew Henry sending Paul Lloyd clear and he finished well past Patrick Stephenson. But Quinns were level seven minutes into the second half, referee Steven Gregory spotted a push by Tom Kennedy on Ben Hinshelwood, and pointed straight to the spot. Hinshelwood picked himself up and finished emphatically from the resulting penalty. They were ahead 15 minutes later, Hinshelwood turned provider this time, sending Owen Goodliffe down the right and his shot from the angle beat Sam Stone. But the Knights weren’t finished and restored parity ten minutes later, with a penalty of their own after Dean Hurley was brought down in the box, and the striker stepped up to convert from the spot.
It looked like the points would be sharded but deep into stoppage time, it was Quinns who won it. A long throw wasn’t dealt with and Hinshelwood pounced to fire home his 22nd goal of the season. “The first half performance wasn’t great but in the second we really turned it on,” Quinns Owen Goodliffe said. “We looked really organised and by far the better team second half which is impressive especially with four key lads not in the 11 and a young side playing. To secure third place with the last kick of the season is always special. When Ben (Hinshelwood) is in the box nine times out of ten he’s going to score so it’s always about finding a way to feed him. If we bring the same intensity and desire on Wednesday, there’s no reason why we can’t get a result again.”
Forrestfield United finished their season on a high beat Joondalup United 3-1 at Crazy Domain’s Stadium, at Hartfield Park. The visitors were looking to seal the runners-up spot, but it was the hosts who opened the scoring on ten minutes. Moses Macauley raced into the left side of the penalty area and crossed to Rhys Loxley, his shot was well saved by Joe Smith, but the ball fell to Laurence Todd, who finished well from the edge of the penalty area. But their lead only lasted four minutes, Anthony Taylor sent James Oldroyd down the right and his cross found a diving Brad McDonald who headed home. Forrestfield regained the lead just after the hour mark, a quick break saw Oliver Parry slide-rule through ball send Loxley clear, and the skipper finished clinically. They wrapped up the points with a third on 79 minutes, Tarek Atta’s cross from the left was turned home at the back post by Dan Corbett. “Saturday was a culmination of the last three games against the top three teams in the league, and we set ourselves a target of seven points from a possible nine,” Forrestfield Coach Graham Normanton said. “We achieved that goal with relative ease especially against Western Knights and Joondalup Utd and it showed how much improvement that this group of players have made over the second half of the season.”
UWA Nedlands ended their season with a bang, thrashing Mandurah City 5-1 at the UWA Sports Park. It didn’t start the best for the hosts, and they found themselves behind after only 13 minutes. Craig Barker sending Joseph McEvatt clear to slot low past Peter Pilkadaris. They held that lead until 17 minutes from time when Luke Randazzo levelled. The hosts then bagged three goals in nine minutes to turn the game around, first Sam Moffatt gave them the lead, before Tim Robertson and Randazzo added his second. The icing was put on the cake in stoppage time when they added a fifth, with Robertson scoring his second of the game. “Fantastic win and nice way to finish what has been an underwhelming season for the club,” Randazzo said. “Having gone down 1-0 at halftime we felt we were doing a lot right but just hadn’t hit the score board. Upon getting the first goal the rest flowed on quite quickly afterwards, and it was some small reward for our efforts this year and we will look to improve on this for 2022.”
In the final game Fremantle City also ended the season on a high after a hard fought 2-1 win against Subiaco at Rosalie Reserve. They were ahead on the half hour, Subiaco failed to clear a free kick and Chris Thackray crossed to the back post and it was turned into his own net by Mella Loding. Subiaco were leveling on 64 minutes, Joshua Kotio’s cross from the left was headed home by Ben Johns. But it was Cameron Lord’s side that won it three minutes later. Matt Sparrow’s free kick was turned home acrobatically at the back post by Todd Howarth.
STATE LEAGUE DIVISION TWO ROUND TWENTY TWO – REVIEW
The three spots for the State League promotion/relegation playoff spots have been decided on a thrilling final round of fixtures in the State League Division Two. There was one spot still available and it went to Murdoch University Melville, who became the first team to beat Champions Dianella White Eagles this season after a 3-0 win at Wormall Civil Stadium and Saturday evening. “Going into the game, we decided as a playing group we didn’t want to know what was happening elsewhere, we were so focused on winning the game and controlling what we could,” Dion Berman said. “We know our best is good enough to beat anyone and the desire we showed was massive, so hopefully we can build on that performance against Gosnells in the play-offs.” The hosts were ahead just before half time, a corner was flicked on by Dylan Urquhart and Daniel Tait scored from close-range. They added a second seven minutes into the second half, Patrick Quinn’s corner found Declan Tanna, who headed home via the post. It was 3-0, 18 minutes from time, Kai Jones was played clear, his first shot was well saved by Dejan Aleksic, but Jones reacted quickest to the rebound to score. Dianella ended the game with ten men when Daniel Mackenzie was showed a straight red card by referee Andre Ferreira and sent off.
The side to miss out was Wanneroo City, who needed a win and hope MUM didn’t, to pip them. They kept their side of the bargain with a gutsy win against Kingsley Westside at Chichester Park, but the result at Murdoch saw them miss out. “It was a great win yesterday and it felt like the boys done really turned up to play, but the three points were just not enough to make the play off,” Wanneroo coach Jesse Bridgeman said. “Unfortunately missing out by one point really hurts, because we were in the top four all season up until last week, premature end to our season but I’m proud of the effort the guys put in all season.” The visitors were ahead after only nine minutes, Jack Reilly cutting in from the left and finding the top corner with a stunning shot. They doubled their lead four minutes later, when Charlie Breen ran onto a great through ball and finished a great move by firing across the keeper.
But Kingsley hit back with two quick goals. First Joel Gillespie found the net from a free kick, and moments later a corner wasn’t clear and in the goalmouth scramble young debutant Jamie McLeod scored. But it was the hosts who won it early in the second half, Jack Hailstones cut in from the right, his shot rolled through the legs of Kingsley keeper Peter Stewart. “It would’ve been nice to get a win going into the play offs, but Wanneroo started fast but after their second goal it was all us in the first half,” Kingsley skipper Jayden Drummond said. “The second half was a tight affair and unfortunately they grabbed the winner, but it was good to give some of the young lads their first team debut, and especially for young Jamie to bag a goal. All our focus is on Swan now.”
Gosnells City took out the runners up spot after a 5-0 win against Kelmscott Roos at Frye Park. It was a tight first half, but it was Gosnells who opened the scoring three minutes into the second half. Scott Pereira sent Eddie Wynne-Willson down the right, his cross found Miguel De Oliveira, who headed powerfully home. It was 2-0 on the hour, De Oliveira dinked the ball over his marker to the overlapping Wynne-Willson who pulled the ball back to Darren Francis who fired into an empty net. The score line blew out late, with Gosnells adding three goals. First on 85 minutes, Wade Farmer made space down the left and crossed to Conor Kavanagh who scored from close-range. It was 4-0 two minutes later, young substitute Blake Pritchard, passing into Wade Farmer, whose powerful shot gave Kelmscott keeper Jack Adams no chance.
They added the fifth in the final minute, referee Stewart Beattie spotted a handball by Sasco Tamba and pointed straight to the spot. James Sharp stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way from the resulting penalty, his first goal of the season. “Today was a great way to finish off our season and a great boost of confidence to take us into the playoff games,” Gosnells’ defender Sharp said. “To finish second this year just shows how good of a squad we actually have. All of us have worked hard to get ourself as high up the table as we can and finishing second proves that. We now need to rest up and focus on gaining promotion back into Division One. We will face MUM in the first leg and look for pay back after they beat us two years ago at the same stage. I personally think with the squad we have we will give it a red-hot crack at gaining promotion.”
Joondalup City ended their season on a high after a 2-1 win against Morley Windmills at the Iluka Sports Complex. It was the visitors who took the lead on the hour, with skipper Leigh Morgan scoring. But the hosts levelled five minutes later, they forced a turnover on half way, Harry Clisby playing a beautiful through ball in behind the Morley defence for Jonny Hulme, whose low cross was finished well by skipper Liam McGurk. They sealed the points 13 minutes from time, with McGurk bagging his second with a neat finish. “It was a great day for the club especially Liam McGurk who we had made captain for the day,” Joondalup coach Brad Haywood explained. “Last year Liam lost his father, Kevin McGurk, to an aggressive form of brain cancer and throughout the day Liam’s Family and the club had been raising awareness and funds for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation. I was thrilled to see him get a double, his dad would be so proud.”
Carramar Shamrock Rovers and Balga ended their season with a hard fought 1-1 draw at Grandis Park. “A bit disappointed with the draw, we gave away a sloppy goal near the end and should have seen the game out when we were 1-0 up,” Rovers’ Ger Fitzgerald said. “It’s been a disappointing season really, but just have to work harder and hopefully injuries stay away for next season.” The hosts found the opened on 68 minutes, Owen Coates finding the net with a shot from outside the box. But Balga levelled five minutes from time, a quick counter attack saw Dominic Manno score his first goal of the season. “The game was hard fought, evenly matched,” Balga’s Liam Kessel said. “Both sides had an opportunity to take all the points, but splitting the points felt like a fair outcome.”
In the final game Curtin University have beaten Canning Cit 2-0 at Burrendah Reserve, to end the coaching stint of Canning coach Chris Finlayson. It was the visitors who opened the scoring against the run of play, Liam Goerke won the ball back on top of the penalty area and found Daniel Davey, who put the ball over the keeper to score. They sealed the points on the hour, Goerke again provided the assist for Davey to double his tally. “I thought we were lucky to score an early goal, and were then on the back foot for most of the half, but limited Canning to speculative chances,” Curtin coach Troy Reid said. “We adjusted well and controlled the second half, and it could have easily been three or four if we hadn’t taken some clear-cut chances. Happy with the response after half time and good to finish the season on a high.”
THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS FOR ECU STRIKER
Everyone at Footballwa.net and the WA football family send our thoughts and prayers to striker Danny Hodgson, who is in a coma with serious head injuries, after an unprovoked attack on Saturday evening following the Jacks final NPLWA game of the season at Cockburn City. Hodgson was attacked at Perth train station and hit his head on the ground, knocking him unconscious and being rushed to hospital with serious head injuries. The English striker, who joined the club from Gwelup Croatia two years ago, had bleeding on the brain and a skull fracture, and had emergency surgery that night, but was rushed back down to surgery the following day as his condition worsened, and he was placed into an induced coma.
There has been a huge amount of support for the 25-year-old and his family, who were struggling to get a flight from the UK due to covid restrictions. Former Bayswater City striker Steve Burton started a Go Fund Me page to raise money and it has gone over $100,000, showing the WA football community can rally in an emergency. There was better news today, with Hodgson’s parents getting a seat on a flight and have flown out of Manchester this morning, so they can be by their son’s side. We all send our love, thoughts and prayers to Danny’s family and friends, here and overseas - and to Danny - Keep fighting!!!
NPL-WA MAJOR AND MINOR SEMI FINALS - PREVIEW
We head into the NPLWA Top four finals series on Saturday with two massive games. In the major semi-final Champions Perth SC take on Floreat Athena at the Inglewood Stadium. (3.00pm) The sides have played two tight games In the regular season, with both sides taking one win each. In round three goals from Joshua Anasmo and Chris Saldaris saw Floreat take a 2-0 lead, but Cameron Teece’s goal 13 minutes from time was just a consolation for Perth. Then in round 14 it was Perth who ran out 1-0 winners, with Will Gordon scoring his first goal of the season to seal the points.
Floreat’s form dipped in the second part of the season, with injuries to key players staling their title charge, but assistant coach Adrian Sutton said they will be giving it everything on Saturday to progress. “It’s been a disappointing second half of the season, but as a group we have a strong belief in our ability to get up for these major finals series,” he explained. “With a recent Top Four finals appearances and back-to-back state cup victories we know the team can prime well for big games and that starts this weekend against Perth.
“Games between the two sides are always tough, irrelevant of where the teams are placed. Perth had a fantastic end to their season which saw them run over the top of us. As mentioned, it was very disappointing for the group so we have a big point to prove over the next week. All teams in the top four will be dangerous so it will be down to who performs on the day.”
Perth keeper Ryan Montgomery said they go into Saturday’s game fully focused, and know on their day they are hard to beat. “It’s been a great year for us with all of the injuries and setbacks it’s incredible we turned around a 10-point deficit at the mid-way point,” he said. “It’s going to be a great game against Floreat as it always is, and the boys are ready for another tough challenge but the belief is high so if we play like we can with the right attitude hopefully we come out on top.”
Midfielder Kristian Santich said he can’t wait for the game, but knows it will be tough. “Saturday’s game should be very exciting, the mid-season game between us was very attacking from both sides, so I’m expecting it to be an attacking game again,” he said. “Winning that game was the start of our run that really got the boys confident to finish the league off strong, so it will be good to see how the boys perform on the weekend against a floreat side that we know will come out firing, playing at a natural ground, will be a good test for both teams.”
In the minor semi-final Sorrento host Perth Glory at Percy Doyle Reserve. (3.00pm) They have also played two tight games this season, both sides winning one each. In round ten Glory won 1-0 with Joshua Anasmo scoring the winner at Wonthella Oval in Geraldton, while in round 19 an early Jordan Brown goal gave the Gulls a 1-0 win at Perth Doyle Reserve.
After missing out on the Top Four Finals for the past three years Sorrento have turned things around this season, and head into the Finals series with a great deal of confidence, and coach Jamie Harnwell said they have a near full squad, and he managed them well in the last couple of games. “We are really looking forward to the Top Four competition again after a couple of years of not being involved, and it was a goal we set at the start of the season and the players have embraced that challenge,” he explained.
“Since securing the top four spot we have been working on ensuring that as many players as possible are fit and in form to play and barring Ryan McLaughlin we are as strong as we can be.” Harnwell is well aware the talent Glory have, but he said is side aren’t bad either, so he is expecting a great game at Percy Doyle. “Glory are such a tough team to play, they are well organised and Ruben and Coyney know how they want them to play,” he said. “Our goal is to disrupt them and impose our style of football on them to try and ensure we progress to the next round.”
Glory skipper Giordano Colli said they are quietly confident of getting the job done on Saturday, and speaking to the Perth Glory website he told Gareth Morgan they are ready for the challenge. "We always have to be aware of their threats and we know that they can beat us on their day," he said. "We need to make sure that we're on the ball and all set to rectify the result from last time. They're going to be big and physical, will probably set up in another block like they did last time and try and win the second balls and make it more of a contest. We have to make sure we're there for the battle and hopefully get the ball down and play."
Colli, who has been a great leader for the club, said they have worked their socks off and are now getting their rewards. "We set out to go and dominate the game and get the win and that's what we did in the vital game against Inglewood last week," he said. "Rubes [Head Coach Ruben Zadkovich] places a big emphasis on our mentality and especially last week, he got us to re-focus and do the job. I'd said in the week that it was going to take all 16 players and the coaching staff to get the result and we all did our part on Saturday. Now we have to play the way we want to play against Sorrento and the boys are definitely ready for it."
Also, on Saturday we have the 18s and20s top four finals series- Fixtures below: Under 18s Major semi-final - Bayswater City v Inglewood United - Frank Drago Reserve 11.00am Under 18s Minor semi-final - Perth Glory v Perth SC - Inglewood Stadium 9.00am Under 20s Major semi-final - Perth Glory v Bayswater City - Inglewood Stadium 11.00am Under 20s Minor semi-final – Perth SC v Floreat Athena – Inglewood Stadium 1.00pm
STATE LEAGUE DIVISION ONE ROUND TWENTY TWO – PREVIEW
The State League Division One heads into the final game of the season with almost everything decided, but on Saturday the runners-up spot, and automatic relegation spot will be decided. (All games kick off at 3.00pm unless otherwise stated) At the bottom of the table Ashfield sit three points behind Swan United and have a three-goal inferior goal difference, so need to beat Olympic Kingsway at Kingsway Reserve and score a few goals, and hope Swan are beaten against Champions Stirling Macedonia at Macedonia Park.
Swan defender Chris Marshall knows to avoid the drop is in their own hands, and he said they had their chance to avoid the last day tension last week, but the 3-3 draw against UWA Nedlands showed the character in the side, which will be needed again at Stirling on Saturday. “Yes, disappointed not to get the three points, but we battled hard all day and credit to the boys to come back twice to level the match and take a point,” he explained. “As you said it’s in our hands and we know what we have to do. We know what Stirling represent and they’re top for a reason, but we will go into the match with belief that we can do what’s required to move into the play-off.”
Ashfield keeper Jamie Serra said last week loss against Quinns was tough, as it was a good performance but they must move on to Saturday’s game at Kingsway and get a positive result. “Last week was a hard-fought game, we knew going into it that we needed to produce something special to beat Quinn’s. I actually thought we played well and with a bit of desire to win which we’ve really lacked this year. We’ve said that we have to take that positivity into the last game of the season to survive,” he explained.
“It’s not over until it’s over and there’s a strong chance, we can still avoid the automatic relegation. We obviously need to get a good win to end the season and Swan go up against a Stirling side that have earned their spot to be promoted, and can cause damage. Regardless of other games we know that three points is the only option for us so I’m excited to see what happens.”
The runners-up spot could be won by two teams. Western Knights sit second, and they welcome fourth placed Quinns to Nash Field. A point would seal it for Ivan Zuvela’s side, with Quinns 13 goals and three points behind them. Third placed Joondalup United could still pip the Knights, but need a win at Crazy Domains Stadium, Hartfield Park against Forrestfield United, and hope the Knights are beaten.
Knights coach Ivan Zuvela said last week defeat against Forrestfield was very disappointing, and he is looking for a response from his side as they look to secure the runners-up spot. “I thought last week was our worst performance of the year. We let in two early goals through poor errors and credit to Forrestfield for defending so well the whole game, but we are sitting second on the table and I am really proud of our efforts all season,” he said. “This weekend is all about rebounding after a poor performance last week. I was really impressed with Quinn’s last time we played them this year. Glenn Grostate has done an excellent job in assembling the team and their results have been very good this season.”
Joondalup coach Nick Jennings said Saturday will be a tough game against an improved Forrestfield side. “At the half way stage the playing group set the minimum objective of a top four finish, having achieved that we now want to finish as high as possible on the ladder. We know going into Saturday’s game at Forrestfield, a win could see us finish second, but on the other hand a draw or defeat and we could slip to fourth,” he explained.
“As every game we go into it looking to win but we know having drawn our last three fixtures with Forrestfield it’s going to be close game, and the side who makes the least mistakes will come out on top. We have to be confident in our ability to execute our game plan, and I have a full squad to choose from, which some coaches think is a headache, but I actually love having this problem.” In other games in the final round Subiaco welcome Fremantle City to Rosalie Park, while Mandurah City make the trip to the UWA Sports Park to take on UWA Nedlands.
STATE LEAGUE DIVISION TWO ROUND TWENTY TWO – PREVIEW
We head into the final round of the State League Division Two and the race for a promotion play-off spot will go down to the wire. Gosnells City booked their spot Wednesday evening, when a goal from Dylan White saw them beat Carramar Shamrock Rovers 1-0 at Walter Padbury Reserve in a round 13 catch-up game, to move into second spot and head coach Marc Anthony said it was a tough game. “It was a good hard-fought win against a well organised Shamrock side,” he said. “The boys did what they had to do to get the result, and we were delighted to keep a clean sheet and it now gives us an opportunity to use the squad for a tough trip to Kelmscott on Saturday.”
Gosnells skipper Scott Pereira said it was a great team performance, and all the players knew what was at stake. “Carramar are always a hard team to play and we knew we were in for a battle right from the start. I thought the game was pretty even in the first half with both teams fighting to be on top and creating some chances,” he explained. “In the second half we started to get on top and looked dangerous every time we went forward it was a nice goal from Dylan that would decide the game and the boys saw the game out defending well when needed to. We hope to build on our momentum week after week. It was a huge game for us to make sure we sealed the top four spot with one game to go now can go out and enjoy our football on Saturday at Kelmscott without the worry or pressure.”
Kingsley Westside also sealed a spot after they were awarded three points from their abandoned game against Carramar Shamrock Rovers in round 18. Kingsley skipper Jayden Drummond said it’s not how they wanted to qualify, but they determined to end their season on a high against Wanneroo City, who are also in contention for a play-off spot and need a win to keep their hopes alive.
“The last game at Curtin was a strange game we started off well but couldn’t capitalise, Curtin had a few long-range shots, unfortunately we missed a penalty in the first half and missed a simple chance early in the second half,” Drummond explained. “The boys defended well to limit Curtin to minimal in the second half, it was one of those where we take the point and move on, worked out to be an important point after Wanneroo slipped up.
“After a strong first half of the season we are fortunate enough to have sealed our spot in the play offs. But Wanneroo are still in with a chance, so they’ll be coming in with a nothing to lose mentality, so we will need to be at our best and get some momentum heading into the play offs.”
The other side in the mix for a spot in the play-offs is Murdoch University Melville, who welcome the champions Dianella White Eagles to Wormall Civil Stadium. (5.00pm) Stewart Moses’ side will be looking to avoid defeat to go through the season unbeaten, while MUM need a win to make sure of a play-off spot. MUM coach Taki Nicolaidis said all they can do is get a result against Dianella, and whatever happens at the other game is out of their hands. “Our focus is purely on our game and won’t be concerning ourselves too much on other games as we are not in control of what they do,” he said. “Our reaction last week was very good and now our only focus is putting in a good performance against Dianella.”
MUM midfielder Dion Berman said Saturday is a tough game, but they wont leave anything out on the pitch, they need a win against Dianella. “Firstly, I just wanted to start by saying congratulations to all at Dianella, they are top of the league for a reason and the table reflects the dominant season they’ve had,” he said. “For us, we understand the situation and know this a must win. We can only control what we are able to, and that is three points against this weekend. We will do everything we can to not let 20 odd weeks of hard work go unrewarded, on the last day of the season.”
In other games this weekend Chris Finlayson will coach his final game at Canning City when they host Curtin University at Burrendah Reserve, Joondalup City welcome Morley Windmills to Iluka Sports Complex, while Carramar Shamrock Rovers host the inform Balga at Grandis Park.
BELT UP AMATEUR LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION - ROUND TWENTY ONE PREVIEW
We head in week 21 of the Belt Up Amateur Premier Division and our ‘Match of the Round’ is the relegation six pointer as Queens Park welcome Joondalup United to Coker Park. (All games kick off at 3.00pm) Both sides have two games left and Queens Park hold a four-point lead over Joondalup as the pair battle it out to avoid the second relegation spot, so this one is massive.
Queens Park had the chance to seal their own fate on Wednesday evening when they played their round 11 catch up game with North Perth United at home, but it didn’t go to plan with the visitors running out convincing 5-0 winners. Robert Faulkner gave United the lead early, before Scott Wrightson converted from the spot to give them a two-goal lead at the break. Second half goals to Jean-Marc D'Avray, Faulkner and another penalty from Wrightson secured the big win for United.
Queens Park coach Ricardo Fynn said they were beaten by a better side, and will need to be better on Sunday against a good Joondalup side. “Yes, we wanted to ensure safety against NPU on Wednesday night but we were torn apart by a very good team,” he said. “We move on and Sunday game is the game of our season because a win obviously secures our PL status for another season and would relegate Joondalup
“Joondalup are an extremely good team coached by a promising young coach in Neil Sherwin, and we have never had an easy game against them and I expect a 90-minute battle from the dug out to the field. It's inexplicable that Joondalup are in the position they are in, they have experience and quality in their ranks and results have just not gone their way. We are pumped and ready to go and will be fighting and playing with pride to secure a positive result.”
Joondalup produced a good performance last week against leaders Phoenix, but unfortunately, they came home empty handed, and coach Neil Sherwin said it had been the story of the season. “It was a very good performance and we took the game to Phoenix in the second half but the outcome did nothing to help our situation,” he explained. “We've lost eight games by a single goal, including three of four against the top two sides, so remain competitive but at this stage of the season I'd rather play badly and have points on the board.”
Sherwin said Sunday is a massive game for both sides, and they are looking forward to the challenge. “I'm really looking forward to Sunday's game, it's must-win for us against another side fighting for survival and has the potential to be a fantastic contest,” he said. “A few of the lads are still annoyed at the manner in which we lost the reverse fixture when we were on the wrong end of one of the worst penalty decisions I've seen, so that adds another motivating factor. Even with a win there's still work to do if we're to play Premier Division football again next season.”
There was another catch up game in midweek with Wembley Downs beating Hamersley Rovers 3-1 at Carine Open Space in a round one, catch up game. Ryan Stewart gave the host the lead on the half hour, but Lachlan Chamberlain levelled in the shadows of half time. The hosts had Keylun Pollard sent off early in the second half, and an own goal from Jakub Vychytil and another to Drew Kirkpatrick secure the three points.
At the other end of the table the promotion fight continues with South West Phoenix holding a one-point lead over Maddington White City, and both hit the road this week. Phoenix travel to Gumblossom Park to take on Quinns, while Maddington make the trip to Herb Graham Recreation Centre to take on Jaguar, who have only lost once in their last five games. Jags keeper Michael Dudek said their form has improved over the season, and are now focusing on next season, but would like to finish as high as they can in this one. “I think we've been too inconsistent this year to have a good crack at promotion, but if we can finish in the top six that's great,” he explained. “But right now, the focus is firmly on taking the top spot next year. We'll keep working hard on recruitment and planning for next season, while wanting to finish this season off strongly.”
Jags could have a say in the title race, as they take on second placed Maddington on Sunday, and Dudek said it will be a tough challenge, but being at home is a plus. “We’re happy to play our part in the title race,” he said. “Maddington were a good side last time we played them, but it was a close game and I think their small pitch suited them. Playing at our home ground, on a larger pitch, we always know we have a good chance at winning. We're not looking to do any favours for any specific teams, so Maddington will have to work hard to try and take three points off us.” In other games Wembley Downs entertain North Perth United at Butlers Reserve, Kwinana United travel to the UWA Sports Park to take on UWA Nedlands, while Leeming Strikers and Hamersley Rovers meet at John Connell Reserve.
GUSTAVSSON WARY OF OVERLOAD ON KERR
Australia captain Sam Kerr is in a “better place” following a short post-Olympic Games break that has her refreshed for a busy season with Chelsea according to national team coach Tony Gustavsson. The Matildas striker hasn’t hidden her feelings of homesickness during a lengthy period away from Australia.
A gruelling scheduled hasn’t helped, with Kerr heading straight into Matildas camp following the completion of Chelsea’s 2020/21 campaign in May. And just because the Olympics are over it doesn’t mean any respite from juggling club and national team duties with Kerr yesterday named in Australia’s squad to play Ireland later this month.
“She (Kerr) did have an important break straight after the Olympics that I think was very, important for Sam,” Gustavsson said. “Looking into her last season in England with all those Champions League games and (English Women’s Super League) games and Cup games, and then straight back into the Olympics, she needed a break, both physically and mentally.”
“She did get some time straight after the Olympics where she could recharge especially mentally. Right now with (being homesick), I do think she’s in a better place now, but it’s also important that what she does now needs to be looked upon in the long-term process. When we bring an international team, we also need to be aware of where she’s at, same as the club team does.”
“It’s evaluating where the players sits and are at mentally and physically coming into this camp and then have a long-term plan to make sure they reach their full potential and it’s peaking come the World Cup on home soil in 2023.” The Matilda’s play Ireland in Dublin on 22 September.
A-LEAGUE CONSIDERS DELAYING SEASON START
The A-League is prepared for the possibility of delaying the start of the upcoming season amid ongoing coronavirus outbreaks and lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria. 30 October has been earmarked for the A-League season opener, with the W-League to kick off two weeks later.
But with eight of 12 A-League clubs based in Victoria and New South Wales, and a desire to play games in front of crowds, the Australian Professional Leagues is set to make a call this month on whether to push that back until after November's international break.
"At the end of this month, the end of September, we're going to need to make a call on whether we push it back," APL managing director Danny Townsend said. "Now there's a natural window to look at - pushing back to potentially after the first international window (November 8-16)."
Townsend said given the A-League's later season date, there was optimism time was on football's side as vaccination rates ramp up. "Going from lockdown to lockdown without a clear path out of this is challenging for anyone running a professional sporting league," he said.
"But when you see that there is a strategy there to get vaccinations to 70 and then 80 per cent, they are within the time frame that we have to launch our season. "So we're not making any drastic commitments, one way or the other at this point in time.
"We're just sensibly, watching and learning and engaging the government and the health authorities to ensure that we get our season off to the best start, and we're really focused on ensuring that fans are available in stadiums to enjoy our game. You only get one chance to re-launch your code. We're going through that the moment."
KERR AND WILLIAMS CALLED UP BY MATILDAS
Samantha Kerr and Lydia Williams have been named in Matilda's coach Tony Gustavsson's 25-player squad to play Ireland, in Dublin, on 22 September. The squad inlcudes 18 players who were part of Australia's Olympic Games campaign along with five uncapped players in Angela Beard, Charlotte Grant, Remy Siemsen, Jamilla Rankin and Winonah Heatley.
“The next phase presents a fresh start for all players, whether they are plying their trade in Australia, Europe, Asia, the United States or elsewhere,” Gustavsson said. “We have a long runway to 2023 and we want to utilise every camp, every match, every moment possible to become one day better. We have previously stated the importance of presenting players with opportunities to experience the national team environment and, with our scouting network, we will look to continue to do so in a measured manner.”
Australia's squad to play Ireland is Mackenzie Arnold, Angela Beard, Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Emma Checker, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Mary Fowler, Emily Gielnik, Charlotte Grant, Amy Harrison, Winonah Heatley, Alanna Kennedy, Samantha Kerr, Chloe Logarzo, Jenna McCormick, Teagan Micah, Courtney Nevin, Clare Polkinghorne, Jamilla Rankin, Hayley Raso, Kyah Simon, Remy Siemsen, Emily van Egmond, Lydia Williams and Tameka Yallop.
TWO FROM TWO FOR SOCCEROOS
Australia got off to the perfect start in Round 3 of FIFA World Cup qualifying, as they beat China PR 3-0 in the air-conditioned Khalifa International Stadium in Doha. Goals from Awer Mabil, Martin Boyle and Mitch Duke provided Graham Arnold's side with the perfect platform to begin their final round of Asian FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Coach Graham Arnold said he was" very proud" of his team's performance. "There is a lot more improvement left ... I thought we were fantastic tonight."
It was a tense start to the game as the Socceroos had to cope with China's advances who began the brighter of the two sides. However, their defence had an answer for all of China's exploits in their half before they went in search of their first chance on goal thanks to Jackson Irvine's effort on 17 minutes. That strike was a taste of what was to come as Mabil broke the deadlock for the ‘Green and Gold’ finishing from close range, after Martin Boyle's looping cross was parried by China's Junling Yan.
Australia now had the momentum and it took just under two minutes before they doubled their advantage courtesy of Boyle's effort from just outside the 18-yard area which found its way into the bottom left corner. Arnold's men were now brimming with confidence as they continued to find space in the final third, with Adam Taggart and Tom Rogic producing the best chances as the first half drew to a close.
The second half began in similar fashion, with Australia once again on the upper foot. However, opportunities were at a premium with Taggart's slightly overcooked effort proving to be the only effort of note in the opening 15 minutes. The in-form Boyle was also continuing to be a menace for the Chinese defence and it was the Hibernian striker who tested Yan with his strike from just inside the six-yard box.
That proved to be Boyle's final contribution as he made way for Duke, who soon turned goalscorer when he bagged the third with just his second touch of the match. Duke was in the right place at the right time as he bundled home the rebound from Mabil's curling effort. The Socceroos maintained their stronghold as proceedings wore on while a special moment arrived for Callum Elder who was handed his national team debut after recently linking up with the squad for the first time this week.
They continued their winning run, on Tuesday evening, with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Vietnam at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi. In hot and humid 29-degree conditions, Australia capitalised on their almost 70% possession, and a first international goal from Rhyan Grant provided Graham Arnold’s side with a record tenth victory in a row. Australia bossed possession in the opening stages of the match but their good work was almost undone when Vietnamese midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai lofted the first shot of the night over the bar.
Just minutes later, the Socceroos had the ball in the back of the net, but the linesman’s flag was raised because the cross rolled out of play before it was poked home from a goalmouth scramble. After a lengthy VAR check for a possible Grant handball in the area on the half-hour mark, Australia was able to breathe a sigh of relief as the referee signalled to play on. While Grant almost gave up a penalty at one end, the Socceroos right-back was perfectly positioned to header Ajdin Hrustic’s looping cross into the back of the net and hand Australia the advantage two minutes before half time.
A tense start to the second half saw the Socceroos have to cope with Vietnam’s advances after they began the brighter of the two sides as they looked to level the score. Aaron Mooy and Aziz Behich were introduced by Arnold just before the hour mark to ensure the Socceroos kept a firm hold on the game. With clear-cut chances few and far between in the second half, Mitchell Duke replaced Adam Taggart to provide Australia with a different focal point up front. Vietnam then pushed for an equaliser, but they could not break down a resolute Socceroos defence.
Australia v China PR: GK Mat RYAN, 4 Rhyan GRANT, 6 Martin BOYLE (13 Aaron MOOY 69’), 9 Adam TAGGART (15 Mitchell DUKE 69’), 10 Ajdin HRUSTIC, 11 Awer MABIL, 16 Aziz BEHICH (3 Callum ELDER 79’), 19 Harry SOUTTAR, 20 Trent SAINSBURY, 22 Jackson IRVINE (7 James JEGGO 79’), 23 Tom ROGIC Substitutes: RGK Lawrence THOMAS, RGK Danny VUKOVIC, 2 Milos DEGENEK, 5 Ryan MCGOWAN, 8 Bailey WRIGHT, 17 Kenneth DOUGALL, 21 Daniel ARZANI
Australia v Vietnam: GK Mat RYAN, 3 Brad SMITH (16 Aziz BEHICH 56’), 4 Rhyan GRANT, 9 Adam TAGGART (15 Mitchell DUKE 66’), 10 Ajdin HRUSTIC (7 James JEGGO 78’), 11 Awer MABIL, 14 Riley MCGREE, 19 Harry SOUTTAR, 20 Trent SAINSBURY, 22 Jackson IRVINE, 23 Tom ROGIC (14 Riley MCGREE 87’) – Subs not used: RGK Lawrence THOMAS, RGK Danny VUKOVIC, 2 Milos DEGENEK, 3 Callum ELDER, 5 Ryan MCGOWAN, 8 Bailey WRIGHT, 13 Aaron MOOY, 17 Kenneth DOUGALL, 21 Daniel ARZANI 6.9.2021
GLORY WOMEN SIGNINGS STUCK INTERSTATE
Perth Glory Women are battling to get newly-recruited players into Western Australia from interstate to prepare for their season because of COVID-19 border restrictions. At least seven new W-League signings, four New South Wales and three from Victoria, are due to fly-in for pre-season training in the next couple of weeks.
But the arrival of expected starters like Young Matildas forwards Susan Phonsongkham and Alana Jancevski and fellow striker Demi Koulizakis is under a cloud because of border clampdowns. The W-League season is due to kick off mid-November but the start date may be pushed back unless border restrictions are relaxed.
“Things are up in the air at the moment,” Coach Alex Epikas said. “There are a number of variables. I don’t have a full handle on them at the moment but things should be clearer when I get out of quarantine. I think the season may end up like last year with a lot of games on the road.
“At the end of last season, I was thinking it couldn’t get any harder but it’s shaping up to be the same. The core group of 10 local girls have been training in the off-season, done extra strength and conditioning and have been able to play games. We’ll continue working with them until we start formal pre-season.”
OXTOBY JOINS CHELSEA AS ASSISTANT COACH
Former Perth Glory captain Tanya Oxtoby has been appointed assistant coach at English club Chelsea, where she will join Matildas superstar Sam Kerr. Oxtoby, who played 40 games for Glory Women between 2008 and 2012 before being assistant coach from 2014 to 2016, arrived for the start of the Women’s Super League on the weekend.
"To be joining such an illustrious team of players and staff is a true honour," said Oxtoby. "I always said it would take something special for me to end my maternity leave early, and when this opportunity arose, and after to speaking to Emma (Hayes) and Paul (Green), it felt like the ideal move for me. I'm looking forward to working not only with world-class players, but the amazingly talented staff at the club and being able to contribute to further success."
A qualified sports psychologist, Oxtoby is a UEFA A-Licence coach and comes with a wealth of experience. As a player she turned out for Northern Redbacks, New South Wales Pride, Western Waves, Glory Women and Doncaster Rovers Belles, before turning her hand to coaching with spells at Nottingham Forest, Glory Women, Birmingham City, Bristol City and the England Under-19 national team.
RUKAVYTSYA LANDS AT BE'ER SHEVA
Australian attacker Nikita Rukavytsya has joined Israeli side Hapoel Be'er Sheva on a two-year contract. The Socceroo had reportedly attracted interest from Australia, Greece and Turkey but has opted to remain in Israel with his family a key factor in the decision.
"A lot of things and offers happened in these few months," 33-year old Rukavytsya said on Instagram. "After checking everything overseas, the whole package was just not right for me and my family, at the end of the day it's not all just about money."
"I'm very thankful to the staff of Be'er Sheva to welcoming me and putting trust in me, I'm happy and motivated and I will do my best this season like I always do to be successful and to have a great and special season!"
Rukavytsya has played the last six season in Israel, initially joining Beitar Jerusalem in 2015. He switched to Maccabi Haifa the following year and topped the clubs goalscoring charts in four of his five seasons in additional to picking up the Israeli Premier League top goalscorer award in 2019/20 and 2020/21.
BELT UP AMATEUR LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION - ROUND TWENTY REVIEW
It’s as you were at the top of the Belt Up Amateur Premier Division with both South West Phoenix and Maddington White City winning their round 20 games this weekend. First on Saturday evening the Phoenix were given a scare before beating Joondalup United 3-2 at Onside Sports Stadium. “It was a hard victory, in all honesty, Joondalup deserved more. I thought Adam Giannasi was brilliant all night, as well as their keeper,” Phoenix coach Nick Carter explained. “It wasn’t our best performance but we came away with three points, and it was fantastic to see our 16-year-old striker Nathan Hartmann come on and score the winner.”
The hosts were ahead on six minutes, Lee Stewart was sent clear and finished low under the on-coming keeper. But Joondalup levelled six minutes later, Andreas Bouzinekis finishing past Jamie Oakey. But the hosts regained the lead moments later, Keiran Quinns corner picked out Ababio Bright who headed home. But Joondalup, who are fighting at the other end of the table weren’t going down without a fight and they levelled on the hour, with Ryan Pellow scoring. But ten minutes from time Phoenix won it, substitute Hartmann racing in on goal and after a goalmouth scramble, he finished calmly.
“It was another important three points for us, to be fair the score didn’t really reflect the game. We should’ve been a few up at half time but failed to take our chances and their keeper made some good saves,” Phoenix skipper Oakey said. “It was exciting to see for the future of the club though that we had three players under 18 years old in the squad, and young Nathan who has only just turned 16 has come on and got the winner for us late. These young boys are gaining valuable experience in this league against older more experienced players which bodes well for their development.”
Maddington White City have boosted their goal difference after a 6-0 win against Leeming Strikers at Nikola Tesla Reserve. Jose Zuniga gave them the lead on 32 minutes, and skipper Cesar Orozco doubled their advantage seven minutes later. Yohann Crampon made it 3-0 early in the second half, before two late goals from Samir Ramos and another to Gaston Bazet saw run out convincing winners.
Kwinana United and Quinns have fought out a 2-2 draw at Kelly Park. “I thought we created enough to win the game to be honest, but Quinn’s always work hard and have players who can hurt you,” Kwinana coach Mark Purvis said. “It was a really good game and we performed well so although we aren’t delighted with the score there are loads of positives to take from the game.” It was Quinns who opened the scoring on eight minutes, a long through ball was nodded on by Nick Hopkins into the path of Ryan McCready, who raced into goal and finished clinically past the keeper for his 25th goal of the season.
But the hosts levelled 15 minutes later, with Jake Daley scoring a great free kick. Kwinana hit the front ten minutes into the second half, Lee Bates shot was parried by the Quinns keeper and Daley was quickest to the rebound to score. But seven minutes from time Quinns found the equaliser. Great work down the left by Kev Westneat and Wayne Carter, and Westneat raced into the box and squared the ball to Ryan McCready, who unselfishly set up Guy Armstrong to slot home from five meters.
“It was a very entertaining game to be a part of, both teams looked to attack early and I was happy we got the breakthrough,” Quinns coach Vinny McMillan said. “As we expected Kwinana came on strong after and looked to take the game to us and scored the next two goals. We were happy that our boys never gave in on what was a very warm day and eventually got the equaliser and finished the game very strong, so overall I believe a draw was a fair result.”
Wembley Downs moved up to fifth after a 3-0 win against Queens Park at Butlers Reserve. Matthew Devereux gave the hosts the lead early, and he added a second on the half hour to put Wembley in control. Daniel Raine added the third midway through the second half to seal the win. “After the disappointment of being knocked out the cup it was a complete performance against Queens Park, a clean sheet and three goals. Great to get back to winning ways,” Devereux said. “On a personal note, it was good to get a couple of early goals in the first half which settled the game. But I missed an absolute shocker for the hat trick, Dan (Raine) came through with the goods from a corner to kill off the game in the second half.”
Jaguar moved level with North Perth United after they beat them 1-0 at Woodville Reserve. The only goal of the game came on 64 minutes, a quick counter attack saw Gojam Nyuon play a through ball to Mabor Thomas, who rounded his defender and hit a powerful drive in off the right-hand post. “An incredible result for us, considering the number of key players we had out through suspension, injuries and other commitments,” Jags keeper Michael Dudek explained. “The reserves boys that stepped up were phenomenal and put a good case forward for their inclusion every week. We defended hard right through to the end and got the rewards for our hard work. Hoping we can emulate the same performance at home against Maddington next week.”
In the final game Hamersley Rovers have won for the first time this season after a 5-1 win against UWA Nedlands at Carine Open Space. Hamersley went in with an attacking mindset with full back Ryan Stewart moved up front and it paid dividends when Stewart opened the scoring after just four minutes using his pace to break clear. Mark Hunt made it two with an incredible volley on the edge of the box. They added a third early in the second half Jordan Nastov broke clear and slotted home. Stewart made it a double before he was fouled in the box for a penalty.
Up stepped Craig Cheesman, on loan from the masters who finished well after his initial spot kick was saved. UWA got a consolation goal at the end but it was dominant Hammers win and one that’s been a long time coming. “We couldn’t be prouder of the lads, they’ve endured a really tough season,” Joe Wright said. “So many injuries and losing players to Saturday clubs has really hurt us this year. But they played out of their skins today, we know it will take a miracle to stay up but we won’t go down without a fight. We take on Wembley midweek and hopefully we bring the same level of desire and intensity that we showed today.”
FIRST HALF BLITZ SEALS GLORY A FINALS SPOT
A stunning first half from Perth Glory, which saw them race to a 4-0 lead, has seen them thrash Inglewood United 5-1 in our ‘March of the Round’ at Crazy Domains Stadium, Hartfield Park, and seal the final place in next week’s Top Four Finals series. Chris Donnell gave the hosts the lead, before quick fire goals from Charlie Leech, Ciaran Bramwell and Joshua Anasmo put them in total control. Inglewood striker Steve Sokol wrapped up the Golden Boot after scoring from the spot after the break, but their comeback was over after Scott Blackmore was sent off, Glory sealing the win with skipper Giordano Colli adding the fifth late.
“Our first half display was very dominant, in all areas, and I was very proud of the way our lads conducted themselves, very professional,” Glory Head Coach Ruben Zadkovich said. “The game was done after 20 minutes, but we’ll look to improve our detail, and continue to build.” It was a winner takes all game, but it was Glory who were dominant early and hit the front on 11 minutes. Joseph Forde laid the ball back to Donnell, who found the net from long-range. They doubled their advantage six minutes later, Adam Zimarino’s corner was bundled home at the back post by Leech.
Amazingly, three minutes later it was 3-0, a long throw from Jack Painter-Andrews was flicked on by Anasmo and Bramwell was on hand to fire home from close-range. The rampant Glory weren’t finished and it was 4-0 on the half hour mark. Colli and Zimarino combined to send Leech into the box and he squared the ball across the six-yard box and an unmarked Anasmo made no mistake to seal the game before half time.
Inglewood reduced the margin five minutes into the second half when Robert Petkov was brought down by Aidan Coyne and referee Steven Gregory pointed straight to the spot. Sokol stepped up and sent Cameron Cook the wrong way from the spot, for his 18th goal of the season and wrap up the Golden Boot. But their comeback wasn’t to be and on 75 minutes they were reduced to ten men when Blackmore was shown a second yellow card for a mistimed tackle on Bramwell.
Glory added a fifth ten minutes from time, Colli getting on the end of a patient Glory move to seal a convincing win. “We got what we wanted from the game and that was the three points,” Colli explained. “There is still plenty of room for improvement in our game and we will look to work on them throughout the week head of our top four clash against Sorrento.’
Perth Glory: GK Cameron COOK, 3 Jacob MUIR, 4 Aidan COYNE, 5 Joseph FORDE, 6 Chris DONNELL (8 Aiden EDWARDS 67’), 7 Charlie LEECH, 9 Ciaran BRAMWELL (16 Lewis TUCKER 83’), 10 Giordano COLLI, 11 Adam ZIMARINO, 17 Joshua ANASMO (15 Tyler VECCHIO 73’), 22 Jack PAINTER-ANDREWS (14 William FORMSTON 83’) - Subs not used: RGK Sam REILLY
Inglewood United: GK Alex DUNN, 2 Alex ISHIDA-LIVINGS, 4 Scott BLACKMORE, 5 Thiak KUEL, 7 Ajak RIAK (11 Egide NGENDAKUMANU 67’), 8 Jason BARRERA (6 Andreas THEODOSIADES 63’), 9 Robert PETKOV (15 Roberto SOARES 86’), 10 Anthony BAFOBUSHA, 13 Brodie LANGAN, 14 Steve SOKOL (21 Hamza BELHASSAN 86’), 17 Mark BARNETT – Sub not used: RGK Josiah GODFREY – Red Card: BLACKMORE 75’ – Referee: Steven GREGORY
COOK GIVES MILLER A PERFECT SEND OFF
Cockburn City have given Head Coach Scott Miller the perfect send off, after a 2-0 win against ECU Joondalup at Dalmatinac Park. The former Perth Glory defender announced he would stand down after the game and goals from Julian Teles and youngster Sam Cook was a perfect end to his tenure at the Cockerels. The hosts were on the front foot early, and went close to the opener after three minutes. Jakub Prajza sent former Cockburn defender Riley Woodcock down the right, he crossed to Daryl Nicol at the back post but he was unable to turn the ball home.
But on 12 minutes it was the hosts who hit the front. Cameron Edwards free kick wasn’t dealt with by the Jacks and Teles fired home from four meters. ECU looked for an immediate response and Woodcock’s curling free kick was pushed around the post by Ben Radonich, and moments later Declan Hughes’ header was saved low by the Cockburn custodian. Cockburn looked dangerous going forward and Sebastian da Sliva’s shot on the run flew over the top on the half hour.
It was a real arm wrestle but it was the visitors who should have levelled three minutes before half time, Danny Hodgson found an unmarked Hughes on the edge of the box, but his shot flashed inches over the top. Perkins then had to be alert in stoppage time, getting down well to save Jesse Lazzaro shot, after the midfielders mazy run down the right, but the host held the lead at the break.
Cockburn almost doubled their advantage early, Da Silva racing down the right, but Perkins made a smart save to deny him. The home side brought on youngster Cook, son of former West Australian newspaper football journalist Jonathon, on 70 minutes, and two minutes later he added the Cockerels second. A long throw from Daniel Dols found its way to Cook, who swept the ball home from eight-yards, and raced off to celebrate with out-going coach Miller and the rest of his teammates.
ECU pressed looking for a way back in the game and six minutes later they almost found it. Healing’s cross was headed back across goal by Ryan Lowry, but Hughes’ shot was saved low by Radonich. Moments later Woodcock’s cross found Hodgson at the back post, but his shot was deflected wide. The hosts were then reduced to ten men on 80 minutes, when a poor tackle by Breckan Baker on Hodgson saw him receive a straight red card by Julian Serra. But despite pressing late ECU couldn’t find a way back into the game, and their league season came to a disappointing end.
Cockburn City: GK Ben RADONICH, 3 Daniel DOLS, 5 Julian TELES, 8 Cameron EDWARDS, 9 Anthony SKORICH (18 Adam ANFUSO 70’), 12 Sebastian DA SILVA (10 David ARAYA 79’), 16 Ali GHOLAMI (6 Ismail HAJI 79’), 17 Fanuel DAWIT (19 Sam COOK 70’), 21 Jesse LAZZARO, 22 Daniel ROBINSON (70’), 25 Breckan BAKER – Subs not used: RGK Ryan BARKER - Red Card: TELES 80’
ECU Joondalup: GK Johnny PERKINS, 3 Nelson TSHONGO (13 Tommy AMPHLETT 46’), 4 Declan HUGHES, 5 Ryan LOWRY, 6 Sami RIAK (14 Ellis HEALING 46’), 8 Tom HOUGH, 9 Daryl NICOL, 11 Riley WOODCOCK, 12 Jakub PRAJZA (7 Oscar MALFIORE 85’), 16 Shane CASSIDY, 17 Danny HODGSON – Subs not used: RGK Joe POLLARD, 18 Luke PALMATEER - Referee: Julian SERRA
FLOREAT END SEASON WITH A FIVE STAR SHOW
Floreat Athena wrapped up the NPLWA runners-up spot after an emphatic 5-1 win against relegated Rockingham City at E&D Litis Stadium. Phil Arnold gave the hosts the lead in the first half, and Nick Ambrogio and Chris Saldaris grabbed early goals after the break. Robbie Galvin pulled one back for the visitors, but further goals from Robert Harding and another from Saldaris from the spot sealed the comfortable win. It’s was a difficult week for the team, as the lads were disappointed with not being able to win the league,” Floreat defender Dennis Galan explained. “However, credit to the lads as we put that all aside on Saturday to secure second spot.
“The team wanted to end the season on a high and go into the finals with a bit of momentum and confidence. I thought we played some really good football and created a lot of chances. Happy to be able to finish off with a really strong win and hopefully we can take that into the finals against Perth next week.” The hosts hit the front on the quarter hour mark, Arnold finding the top corner from the edge of the penalty area. Dylan Rogers fired wide moments later as Rockingham look for a quick response, before Saldaris headed over at the other end and Ludovic Boi’s looping header drifted inches over the top.
But the hosts doubled their lead in the first minute of the second half. Boi pouncing on a loose ball to slip Ambrogio in on goal and he finished low past Brad Stout. It was 3-0 on the hour, Boi cutting the ball back from the bye-line to skipper Saldaris, and made no mistake from four meters. Rockingham pulled one back six minutes from time, Galvin shot from long-range beat Thomas Chuddy low to his left, his first goal for the club.
But Floreat restored their three goal advantage moments later, Harding playing a neat give and go with substitute Laat Mathiang and finishing well. They added a fifth in stoppage time when Saldaris was brought down by Declan Collins and referee Jatin Lodhia pointed to the spot. Saldaris picked himself up and sent Stout the wrong way to give Vas Vujacic’s side a perfect lead in to the Top Four Finals.
Floreat Athena: GK Thomas CHUDY, 4 Ben STEELE (2 Marco SANTALUCIA 63’), 6 Jesse FULLER (16 Kyle MURRAY 72’), 8 Sean MCMANUS, 10 Nick AMBROGIO (12 Laat MATHIANG 80’), 11 Dennis GALAN, 13 George FESTA, 14 Ludovic BOI (9 Robert HARDING 63’), 15 Chris SALDARIS, 19 Phil ARNOLD, 20 Andrew PALMER - Subs not used: RGK Theodore SARRIS –
Rockingham City: GK Bradley STOUT, 6 Harry BOLAN, 7 Feisal ZAW, 8 Robbie GALVIN, 9 Christos VAENAS (2 Sam FOSTER 67’), 10 Luke COLLINS,12 Nathan NG, 19 Noah WITTSTROM LEA, 20 Dylan ROGERS, 23 Mustafa MKANZA (38 Jesse ROBERTS 51’) 28 Harvey HANCOCK (15 Declan COLLINS 80’) - Subs not used: 21 Joseph MOSS, 31 Evan LUDGATE - Referee: Jatin LODHIA
MEDICA KEEPS CHAMPIONS AT BAY
Perth Soccer Club were presented their 2021 NPLWA title trophy on Saturday, but were held to a 0-0 draw by Italian rivals Balcatta before at Dorrien Gardens. The visitors had young keeper Sebastian Medica to thank for keeping the hosts at bay, producing a number of fine saves in a ‘Man of the Match performance. “Perth put us under pressure early on, but we absorbed it and went on to create some good chances,” Balcatta coach Michael Johnson explained. “The second half started in the same fashion, and Seb made some critical saves early on and we could have nicked late on but it wasn’t too be.”
It was the hosts who were on the front foot early and on five minutes Jayden Gorman cut I’m from the left, but his curling effort was well saved by Medica. Moments later Calvin Whitney’s volley flashed inches wide as Perth pushed for the opener. They suffered a blow on 16 minutes when Gorman limped off with what looked like a hamstring injury. The visitors went close themselves on 24 minutes, Calum O’Connell’s corner was headed over the top by Hristijan Jankuloski.
It was Perth creating the better chances, but the Balcatta custodian was in fine form. On the half hour Kristian Santich’s cross from the left was met by skipper Bojan Radinovic, but his header was well saved by the busy Medica. The hosts were in again seven minutes later, as substitute Yagoub Mustafa headed wide, but at the break it was 0-0
The hosts continued to press for the opener after the break and Whitney fired into the side netting. But Balcatta began to create their own chances and Perth keeper Ryan Montgomery had to make a smart save at his near post to deny Jack Leech. The lively Mustafa was a constant threat and he went close on 54 minutes, his shot on the run was pushed into the post by Medica, and he was in again minutes later, he raced into the penalty area but Medica was equal to him saving well.
Balcatta had soaked up a lot of Perth pressure but they almost won it late. First Leech’s corner picked out substitute David Cyrus, whose header flashed inches wide. Moments later David Perich’s cross from the right found Henry Durr, his shot was saved by Montgomery before Amir Ajan fired the rebound over the top. But at the final whistle both sides shared the spoils.
It's been a tough week at Perth with the news Head coach Ramon Falzon will leave the club after the top four finals, but keeper Ryan Montgomery said it was a good performance on the day, despite the scoreless draw. “It was a good performance from the boys and although it finished 0-0, we definitely created enough chances to win the game, but if you don’t take those chances, you don’t win games,” he explained. “We were solid at the back again and it was good to keep another clean sheet so hopefully we can continue our good form into next week’s game against floreat!
Perth SC: GK Ryan MONTGOMERY, 10 Michael DOMFEH, 11 Yagoub MUSTAFA, 13 Calvin WHITNEY, 15 Will GORDON, 17 Aiden FORMSTON, 18 Federico ACHILLI, 19 Bojan RADINOVIC, 21 Jayden GORMAN, 22 Kristian SANTICH – Subs: RGK Adrian SINAGRA, 2 Alex SILLA 16, 3 Jayden DE LEO, 4 Lachlan BYRD, 6 Nik MCDONALD, 16 Kieran COLWELL
Balcatta: GK Sebastian MEDICA, 2 Joe MARINO, 4 Calum O’CONNELL, 5 Hristijan JANKULOSKI, 7 Amir AJAN, 8 Jack LEECH, 10 Jon CORNESS, 11 Elliot TATTERSALL, 13 Anthony TOPINI, 15 Nick WALSH, 22 Michael SCAFETT - Subs: 3 David CYRUS, 12 David PERICH, 14 Nicholas MESSINA, 16 Adam FALCONE, 17 Henry DURR – Referee: Stewart BEATTIE
GULLS BEAT A TEN MAN BAYSWATER
Sorrento go into next week’s Top Four Finals Series on a high, after a 4-0 win against Bayswater City at Frank Drago Reserve. The hosts had keeper Nik Speca sent off in the first minute, and it was downhill from there for Gareth Naven’s side. Jack Allen scored an own goal early, before Jordan Brown and Jordan Roberts added two more before the break, and the win was sealed on the hour with Alex Morgan adding the fourth.
“We really wanted the players to carry some momentum into the finals and they did that superbly,” Sorrento Head Coach Jamie Harnwell said. “Bayswater were obviously extremely unfortunate with the early red card but the players did everything asked of them.”
The home side made the worse possible start and with only 54 seconds on the clock, Jordan Roberts’ ball over the top sent Chris Jackson racing in on goal, but Speca came racing out of his goal and brought down the striker and referee Josh Mannella had no other choice but to send the Bayswater keeper off. Gareth Naven brought on reserve keeper George Jackson, and the unfortunate Alert Fullard was withdrawn.
It went from bad to worse on 18 minutes when Sorrento opened the scoring, Jackson’s low cross deflected off skipper Allen and into the net. It was 2-0 on the half hour, Robert’s corner picked out Brown, who lost his marker to head home. It was soon 3-0, Morgan’s shot deflected to Roberts, whose swivel volley gave Jackson no chance.
The Gulls sealed the three points when they added a fourth on the hour. A sweeping move started in their own box by Tim Hill saw him find Roberts in the middle of the park, who sent Jackson racing down the right, his low cross was turned home by Morgan, to seal a comprehensive win. “It was a great team performance, we had spoken about keeping the momentum going with the finals coming up,” Sorrento skipper Shaun Kilkelly said. “I thought we did and it shows that we are going to be real contenders for the top four cup.”
Bayswater City: GK Nic SPECA, 2 Lucas COOK, 3 Jack ALLEN, 5 Albert FULLARD (RGK George JACKSON 2’), 7 Ndumba MAKECHE, 8 Gordon SMITH, 10 Jason MIRCO, 18 Fraser DUNLOP, 23 Daniel KATZ, 28 Kosta SPARTA (11 Ryan PEARSON 44’), 29 Tyler GARNER (22 Luke SALMON 72’) – Subs not used: 14 Gomo DUKULY, 15 Leonard GAMA – Red Card: Speca 1’
Sorrento: GK Connor CAMPBELL, 4 Shaun KILKELLY (30 Theo GILSENAN 70’), 6 Chris JACKSON (58’)12 Joe TWEATS, 7 Alex MORGAN (10 Ollie ANNIS 82’), 11 Tim HILL, 14 Jordan POKLER, 15 Tristan STEVENS, 18 Jordan BROWN, 19 Jaxon TEMATA, 20 Jordan ROBERTS (3 Daniel FAICHNEY 58’), 21 Ethan BANKS – Subs not used: RGK Patrick HUGHES - Referee: Josh MANNELLA
GWELUP AND ARMADALE SHARE THE SPOILS
It was all square at Wishart Street, as Gwelup Croatia and Armadale ended their season with a 1-1 draw. Jon Stynes looked to have given the home side the points with his 10th goal of the season, but a late goal from Spanish striker Angel Andres secured a point for John O’Reilly’s side, and result which gave the hosts their tenth draw of a disappointing season. “It was a typical end of season game, end to end and very open play,” Armadale coach John O’Reilly said. “But at the end, both teams could have stolen a win right up into the final seconds.”
Gwelup went close early in this one, Oli la Galia bursting into the box, and cut the ball back to Jon Stynes, whose first-time shot was well saved by Michael Craggs. It was end-to-end football as both teams looked to end the season on a high, and Armadale went close on 12 minutes, Chad Nilson was sent racing into goal, but Ben Ratajczak stood tall to deny him, and moments later Pieter Jacobsz fired over the top.
Then at the other end Ciaran Salinger’s header was tipped up over by Craggs, before Kevin Ashwood’s free kick was saved low by Ratajczak. Former Gwelup striker Angel Andres was next to threaten, a long clearance from Craggs sent the Spanish striker in on goal, but his shot on the run was well saved by the Gwelup custodian. The hosts had late chances, first Hasani Sinclair’s long-range shot was superbly saved by Craggs, before La Galia’s shot flashed wide of the post.
But the deadlock was finally broken just after the hour mark. Sebastian Hooshangian sent substitute Ethan Brooks racing down the right and his low cross to the back post was turned home by Stynes, for his ninth goal of the season. It looked like that goal would seal the points for the hosts, but both sides pressed and created some good chances, and in the final minute Armadale found the equaliser. Vladimir Naumoski flick sent Andres in on goal and he finished well past Ratajczak, for his 12th goal of the season to give both sides a share of the spoils.
“The season finale at Wishart Street was a cracking contest played in the right spirit by both teams. I was delighted by the attitude and efforts of the lads which has been evident the last three weeks,” Interim Gwelup coach Richard Abrams said. “All the games have been great contests and Saturday’s game, if not for some magic by Angel Andres late, we could have finished with three points. However happy to share against a well organised Armadale side. Also delighted with the performance in particular from the 5 x u20s players on the pitch from the start who didn’t look out of place.”
Gwelup Croatia: GK Ben RATAJCZAK, 2 Ciaran SALINGER 7 Brent GRIFFITHS (25 Kenny MORGAN 88’), 8 Jon STYNES, 12 Hasani SINCLAIR (18 Gustavo GIRON MARULANDA 77’), 14 Shubham MOKALA 20 Sam MITCHINSON (11 Ethan BROOKS 56’), 29 Oli LA GALIA (10 Raul PEREIRA 88’), 30 Max THORNILEY, 33 Ethan QUARTERMAINE, 45 Sebastian HOOSHANGIAN - Subs not used: RGK Charlie PRTENJACA
Armadale: GK Michael CRAGGS, 2 Matt WORTON, 3 Andy REALE, 8 Brian PATTERSON (23 Friday ZICO 66’), 9 Angel ANDRES, 10 Isaac KOOMSON (20 Adriano JELENOVIC 66’), 11 Chad NILSON, 12 Callum MELLOWSHIP, 15 Cherno BAH, 17 Pieter JACOBSZ, 18 Kevin ASHWOOD (19 Vladimir NAUMOVSKI 82’) – Subs not used: RGK Yousri GHARSALLAH, 13 Filippo GIPFFRE – Referee: Adrien LIECHTI
STATE LEAGUE DIVISION ONE ROUND TWENTY ONE – REVIEW
The State League Division One automatic relegation spot will go down to the final game after another tense weekend of football. At Francis Street Swan United fought out an entertaining 3-3 draw with UWA Nedlands, which moved them three points clear of Ashfield, who were beaten 3-2 by Quinns at Acclaimed Catering Arena, the win sealing their Top four Final spot. In the Swan Valley the visitors were ahead on 16 minutes, Godfrey Asimwe corner was headed powerfully home by Joshua Marocchi. But the hosts levelled four minutes later, a cross into the box by James Shamim, saw referee Michal Jasinski spot a push on John Monterosso and pointed straight to the spot. Monterosso picked himself up and found the bottom corner to level. The hosts hit the front six minutes before half time, Alex Young sent Monterosso down the right, and his cross wasn’t dealt with and Deng Dut fired home from close-range.
But UWA restored parity on the hour, Sam Moffatt found space down the right and his cross was bundled over the line by Nick Stone at the front post, although the keeper was convinced, he had saved it on the line, but after consulting with his assistant the referee awarded the goal. UWA then added a third, four minutes later Asimwe cross was turned home by Sam Kent. But the Swans weren’t finished and levelled again on 70 minutes, Dut curling home superbly from 20 meters. Both sides pressed for the winner but they had to share the spoils.
“I felt we almost did enough for the win and we should have snatched it late on but credit to UWA who made things really difficult for us at times throughout the match. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest of games and to be honest a draw was probably the fair result as both sides had chances,” Swan Coach Dan Evans explained. “After twice going behind we showed great character in getting ourselves back in the contest but we were disappointed not to get the three points. Importantly though our destiny is still in our own hands going into the last round and we’re confident of doing enough to secure a playoff spot.”
Meanwhile Ashfield found themselves behind on 24 minutes, a long throw by Adam Tong wasn’t dealt with and Cian Hirrell’s shot was well saved by James Serra but Reece Abrams fired home the rebound. But Ashfield levelled early in the second half, straight from the kick-off Benjamin Entwistle long-range shot was parried by Patrick Stephenson, the keeper reacted well to save Gabriel Riquelme follow up shot but he could nothing about Joshua Tumoe effort. But Glenn Grostate’s side regained the lead on 66 minutes, Ben Hinshelwood losing his marker to head home.
Then 12 minutes later they added a third, Tong sent Liam Hudson in on goal and he was brought down by Jordan Bell and referee Tom Glavovic pointed straight to the spot. Hinshelwood stepped up and scored his 20th goal of the season. Ashfield scored a consolation goal late, when Leon Anderson found Mark Barnard who scored from close-range, but it was too little too late. “Delighted with the win and to secure top four spot with one game to go,” Quinns skipper Adam Buckingham said. “It’s been a great season and we are all very pleased with how well we have done, considering the doubts we faced at the start of the year.’
Champions Stirling Macedonia had to come from behind to earn a 1-1 draw against Joondalup United at Forrest Park. The hosts were ahead on four minutes, James Oldroyd made space down the right, his cross found Brad McDonald who finished well past former United keeper James Bosdet. But Stirling levelled six minutes into the second half, with one of the goals of the season. Sam Wynne picked the ball up in his own half and won a tackle on the half way line and raced forward before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net from 20 meters. “Stirling are a fantastic side and have been head and shoulders above everyone else this season,” Joondalup coach Nick Jennings said. “But I thought we were good value for the point today in what was a hard-fought physical contest, the boys refused to take a backward step, and all showed the JUFC spirit that we are renowned for.”
Western Knights top four preparations took a hit after they were beaten 0-3 by Forrestfield United at Nash Field. United were ahead after only three minutes, Ryan Francis’ cross found Rhys Loxley, who made no mistake from five meters. It was 2-0 moments later, Moses Macauley linking up with Loxley, whose shot from the edge of the box was saved by Sam Stone, but Loxley raced in to fire home the rebound. The points were wrapped up nine minutes from time, with Loxley firing home from the spot to complete his hat-trick.
“I thought the result was a great reflection of turn around this season. Knights are never an easy team to play, especially at Nash Field, so to come away with such a dominant performance is very pleasing,” Loxley explained. “Our defensive structure was solid limiting them to very few chances in both halves and fortunately we were able to capitalise on our chances to get the win. As a striker, it’s always nice to score goals, but I think just as much if not more credit must go to our defenders for their superb work to have the best defensive record in the league.”
Mandurah City gave some out their youngsters an opportunity against Subiaco at Genesiscare Stadium, and they didn’t disappoint, having a helping hand in the Dolphins 5-2 win. City were ahead on ten minutes, player/coach John Baird’s pass picked out Joseph McEvatt, who scored his first goal of the season. But Subiaco hit back and levelled on the half hour, Lachlan Hannah picking out Ben Campbell, whose first time shot beat Dylan Wilson low into the bottom corner of the net. The hosts regained the lead seven minutes into the second half, a long ball from Harry Collins sent Reece Allan racing clear and he lobbed Teophile Brown from the edge of the penalty area. But Subiaco weren’t finished and levelled on the hour, a poor back pass let in Lucas Munoz, who cut the ball back to Campbell to fire home his second of the game.
But the home side hit back late to win it. First on 81 minutes Rory McGrath found Andrew Murray, who fired home his first goal of the season from seven meters. They added a fourth moments later, Luke Davies played the ball into the box from the right and McEvatt was on hand to fire home his second. The icing was put on the cake in the final minute, when they added a fifth, Baird’s shot was parried by Brown, and Davies fired home the rebound, his first goal for the season. “An outstanding performance with so many missing it shows the future is bright with the youngsters,” Mandurah Coach Baird explained. “Two kids Andy Murray and Luke Davis getting there first senior goals is a proud moment for them and they’re families. So, all round it was an excellent day for everyone involved with Mandurah City FC.”
In the final game Fremantle City and Olympic Kingsway have fought out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Hilton Reserve. “We responded well to a disappointing first half, full of energy and desire, capped off by two fantastic finishes,” Fremantle Coach Cameron lord explained. “Not being clinical in front of goal and getting that third goal while we were so dominant in the second half meant Kingsway were always a chance to get back in the game with some of the quality they have going forward and unfortunately for us they took their chance with a couple of minutes to go. Nothing but praise though for the response to the first half and the application and desire shown in the second half. Some of the younger boys have been getting great first team experience in recent weeks which I believe will put us in good stead for next season.”
It was Olympic who opened the scoring on 32 minutes, Hamza Hina was brought down in the box by Charles Parry and referee John Taran pointed to the spot. Harry Evans stepped up and made mistake from the resulting penalty. But the hosts levelled early in the second half, Parry’s cross from the right picked out Adam Carlino, whose glancing header beat Dave Keenan. Fremantle then hit the front on 76 minutes, Joshua Macri finding Carlino, who held off his marker to fire home. But six minutes from time David Tough’s side levelled. Good work on the left by Hina, ended with a cross into the penalty area which was only cleared as far as Ben Rutter, who made no mistake from the edge of the box. “It was a good game of football with both teams playing the right way,” Olympics’ Harry Evans said. “We let the lead slip conceding two sloppy goals but we did well to bring it back and get the draw and on the balance of play it was probably a fair result. We look to finish the season on a high at home against Ashfield next weekend.’
STATE LEAGUE DIVISION TWO ROUND TWENTY ONE – REVIEW
The State League Division Two relegation/Promotion play-off spots will also go down to the final round after another entertaining weekend of fixtures. Wanneroo City’s hopes took a hit after they were beaten 3-4 in our ‘Match of the Round’ by Balga in a thriller at Wanneroo Reserve. The visitors were ahead on 17 minutes, Luke Christie finding Weldu Tekeste who scored from the edge of the penalty area. But Wanneroo levelled on the half hour, with Josh Booysen scoring. But two minutes later Balga regained the lead in controversial circumstances, a drop ball by the referee was supposed to be passed back to the keeper but Bleron Mamudi lobbed him.
But Balga allowed Wanneroo to score from the kick off to make up for the error, Chris Williams scoring. But Balga hit back and made it 2-3 four minutes later, Jimmy Taban finding Mamudi who found the top corner of the net with a great strike. Wanneroo levelled things up again on the hour, substitute Shakeel Alexander finding the target. But it was Balga who won it in the final minute, Dominic Manno’s shot was spilled by keeper Jakeb Seppings and Tekeste was quickest to react to roll the ball into an empty net. “The game was played on a very good level. While we had more possession and chances it was obvious that for Wanneroo it was a must win and they fought accordingly,” Balga coach Gerhard Janssen said. “But overall, our boys created much more chances and showed a lot of good combinations and passing structures. Therefore, the victory is deserved and is encouraging for the development of the team.”
Murdoch University Melville took a massive step to a spot in the play off’s after moving to second after a 3-0 win against Joondalup City at Wormall Civil Stadium. The hosts found the opener in the final minute of the first half, Josh Cortez played a one two with Declan Tanna and smashed it into the bottom left corner. It was 2-0 midway through the second half, Dion Berman got up over the defender and headed the ball to Cortes, who turned and played a through ball to Berman, who had continued his run, and he volleyed it first time into the bottom corner. They sealed the points three minutes from time, Mark Lucas took a quick free kick while the keeper wasn’t looking after asking the referee if he could, and he found the net. “Coming into the game, we knew we had to win to keep our playoff chances alive, we did that and played well,” Berman explained. “Off the back of two disappointing losses, we glad we got back to winning ways, and have to finish the season off well.”
Kingsley Westside missed a chance to all but seal a spot after they were held to a 0-0 draw by Curtin University at Edinburgh Oval. “I think both sides thought they deserved the points,” Curtin coach Troy Reid said. “We hit the cross bar and missed three or four great chances, whilst Daniel Marques saved us with a fantastic penalty save. All in all, I felt we deserved more from the game but didn't take our chances.” Both sides had chances to win the game, the best falling to the hosts, but they couldn’t convert them. Kingsley had the perfect chance to take the lead into the break when they were awarded a penalty just before half time, but Curtin keeper Marques saved Joel Gillespie’s spot kick. “Very disappointed in yesterday’s game where we didn’t create many clear opportunities to score. We missed a penalty and that’s about as clear a chance we had all game,” Kingsley coach Steven Dimitrovich said. “And to be honest Curtain had the better of the chances but just couldn’t punish us. We take the point move onto next week against Wanneroo.”
Gosnells City jumped back into contention after a 4-1 win against Canning City at Burrendah Reserve to secure the 2021 Frank Longstaff Trophy. Marc Anthony’s side were ahead after only four minutes, a mazy run by Miguel De Oliveira ended with a clinical finish. It was 2-0, nine minutes later, Albert Amankwaa’s first shot was blocked by a Canning defender but he made no mistake with the second. Chris Finlayson’s side halved the deficit on 24 minutes, with Connor Nicolaidis on target. It was a tight second half with both sides having their chances, but it was Gosnells who added a third on 85 minutes.
Dylan White surging run took him past a number of Canning players, racing one-on-one with Alex Radonich, and he fired low past him. They found the fourth moments later, Bryce Rae racing into the box and firing home. “It was a good win for us away from home, and going two up early was good,” Gosnells’ defender James Sharp said. “But canning bounced back and made it difficult for us, so it was good to finish 4-1 and take the three points though. All in all, we deserved the win and we now focus on our mid-week clash with Shamrock, and a win will cement a play-off spot.”
Champions Dianella White Eagles received their league trophy after a solid 4-0 win against Kelmscott Roos in the late game at Dianella Reserve. They were ahead on 23 minutes, a cross from the right was turned home by Daniel Mackenzie. They struggled to break down a spirited Kelmscott side, but found a second on 72 minutes. Kristian Despotovski’s free kick finding Nikola Zmukic who finished well. They scored two late goals to seal the win, first on 82 minutes Zmukic’s cross was headed home by Mackenzie.
Then in stoppage time Despotovski curled home from the edge of the box. “The game was a bit of a scrappy game, we didn’t play the best in the first half, we were sluggish and second to the ball but we still managed to get through the half with a one goal advantage,” Despotovski explained. “We knew we had to pick it up in the second half which is what we did, we started playing like a team and started to do the basics and that did us well with a 4-0 win and keeps us undefeated.”
In the final game Carramar Shamrock Rovers continued their late season surge after beating Morley Windmills 2-1 at Wotton Reserve. Rovers were ahead on the half hour, referee Michael Nguyen spotted a foul on Nathan Diaz and pointed to the spot, and Callum Trainer scored the resulting penalty. They doubled their lead on 62 minutes, Owen Coates pin-point cross headed home by Ger Fitzgerald. “Very happy with the win all the boys put in a great shift,” Fitzgerald said. “We have two games left and are in good form so hopefully play well and get some good results and finish the season on a high.”
NPL-WA ROUND TWENTY TWO PREVIEW
The NPLWA title has been wrapped up by Perth SC, while Floreat Athena and Sorrento have secured their spot in the top four finals. But the final spot is still up for grabs, with three sides in the mix as we go into the final week. Perth Glory host Inglewood United at Crazy Domains Stadium, Hartfield Park and a win to either side would see them take the last spot, but a draw to Glory would all so do. ECU Joondalup are the real outsiders, needing Glory and Inglewood to draw and then beat Cockburn by nine goals, which is very unlikely. (All games kick off at 3.00pm unless otherwise stated)
But our ‘Match of the Round’ is the clash between Glory and Inglewood. The hosts could have all but secured their spot last week, but conceded a late equaliser to draw at Balcatta, while Inglewood edged out Gwelup Croatia 1-0 to move level on the ladder, so this one is a winner takes all clash. Inglewood skipper Alex Dunn said they have had a tough week with two tough games, and was delighted to come out with three points last week against Gwelup. “We knew it was going to be a tough game against Gwelup, the game against ECU was physically demanding and we had to back it up and take the game to them,” he explained. “Despite some sore bodies I thought we defended well and did enough to grab a goal and close the game out, which at this stage of the season it’s all about the results.”
Dunn has returned from a long-lay with injury and his experience will be vital on Saturday, but he is proud to captain a great bunch of players. “I was out for about eight or so weeks with torn calf, which was frustrating to watch from the stands as I have never had a long-term injury before,” he said. “We have an ambitious group of players and are target is to challenge for trophies of which we still have a chance, and I’d be very proud of the group to make the finals and try shake things up.”
The keeper knows the challenge ahead, but he is confident they can get the right result on Saturday and give the top four a real crack. “We are all looking forward to the game, and the challenge, as we know they are a talented bunch,” Dunn said. “The equation is simple win and we make finals, lose and season is over, so it’s up to us to leave everything out there and apply as much pressure on the Glory lads. As a captain that’s all I can ask for, I can’t wait for the game as I am sure it will be a cracker.”
The Glory missed a huge opportunity last week, conceding a late equaliser at Balcatta and skipper Giordano Colli said it was uncharacteristic of the group this season, but they have to learn from it. “It’s not the result which we wanted from the game, and as a group we are most disappointed with the way in which we threw away the lead three times,” he explained. “It ended with us conceding three goals, which we haven’t done in a long time that’s was uncharacteristic from us as a group and something we need to learn from.”
It’s been an outstanding season for Colli, the talented midfielder starting as part of the clubs’ squad in the Asian Champions league, and producing a solid season in the NPL as skipper, and he said the group have grown each week and has been grateful the trust the coaches and team mates have put in him this season. “Being the captain of this group of lads has been awesome and I would want nothing less than to have them with me in the finals,” he said. “I pay massive respects to my coaches and players that both trust and back me out in the pitch in order for me to go out and do my thing. The way in which I re-pay them is hopefully getting the win on Saturday and get into the top four finals.”
Colli knows Saturday’s game is a final already, as its winner takes all, and he said they are up for the challenge. “We go into the game wanting to win no matter what, that’s been our aim with every game this season,” he explained. “It’s another three points in which we want to take, and it will take all 16 players and coaches in order for us to do that. But the lads are ready for it and we are confident that we are able to get the job done.”
ECU Joondalup head to Dalmatinac Park to take on Cockburn City, after a big win against Bayswater last week, with Ellis Healing bagging a brace, his first goal for the club after a horror two-year injury run. Cockburn have only won once in their last seven games and are coming off a loss at Armadale last week, so Scott Miler will be looking to end the season on a high. The win against Bayswater mathematically kept ECU’s final hopes alive and Healing said they will give it a go.
“It was a great win last week, and it’s been a while since we got three points, so was a good for the team and great for me personally too after being out injured for so long to get my first couple of goals,” he said. “Mathematically it is still possible, it will be extremely tough, some might say impossible but we have to go into the game with the right attitude, hopefully we can score a boat load, our striker Danny (Doglips) Hodgson can go get the golden boot and we qualify for top four, stranger things have happened.”
In other games in the final round, Rockingham City’s final game in the NPLWA sees them head to E&D Litis Stadium to take on Floreat Athena, while Sorrento make the trip to Frank Drago Reserve to take on Bayswater City. Gwelup Croatia will look to end a tough season on a high when they welcome Armadale to Wishart Street, likewise Balcatta who head to the champions Perth SC, who will be presented their trophy after the game. Perth shocked the WA football community in midweek when they announced the departure of Head Coach Ramon Falzon. His record at the club in his five and a half years tenure is second to none, winning four league championships, three Top Four trophies and one Night Series title, including the 2021 NPLWA championship. We would like to thank Ramon for all his contributions on our website in his time at the Gardens, and we wish him all the best in the future.
STATE LEAGUE DIVISION ONE ROUND TWENTY ONE – PREVIEW
We head in to the penultimate week of the State League Division One and our ‘Matches of the Round’ we focus on the relegation battle as Swan United host UWA Nedlands at Francis Street and Ashfield welcome Quinns to the Acclaimed Catering Arena. (All games kick off at 3.00pm unless otherwise stated) The black and whites sit two points off the drop zone after a huge win at Subiaco last week, which saw Ashfield drop into it after a 1-3 loss against Western Knights. Swan could make their place safe with a win against UWA, who are coming off a narrow loss against Joondalup United last week, that’s if Ashfield fail to beat Quinns, who need a win to secure a top four spot.
Ashfield skipper James Sammut said last week's game was tight, and it was disappointing to let the lead slip, but they will continue to fight to stay in the league. “Yes, last week was a disappointing result but the performance from the lads was positive against a very good Western Knights squad,” he explained. “We started the game well and scored early but unfortunately a couple of lapses of concentration cost us, but we have to dust ourselves down and get ready for another tough game against Quinns.”
Sammut is well aware the position they are in on the table, and the loss of Zoran Vrteski and Isak Hlawnmual, who were sent off in the loss against the Knights is going to hurt them, but he is said they need a positive and is confident they can achieve that. “Every game is massive, especially getting to the end of the season,” he said. “Quinn’s are very good and well coached side, so this weekend doesn’t get any easier. We have a few boys out through suspension which makes this task more difficult, but it gives other players the opportunity to step up and perform.”
Swan striker John Monterosso bagged his ninth goal of the season at Subiaco last week, the win giving them a huge lift, and he said they had to work for it on a difficult pitch. “We know going into the game how important the game was for our season,” he said. “It was a good win, on difficult playing surface, especially with everyone feeling the pressure, but the whole team lifted and played to the level that we know we can play.”
There is still a way to go before they are safe from automatic relegation, and Monterosso said if they play like they did last week they will be ok, but is expecting a tough game against a talented UWA side. “It’s another tough game against UWA, and we know we’re only one loss away from relegation,” he said. “The pressure is still on us, but if we continue that level, we played against Subiaco I think we will take the points.”
In other games this weekend Fremantle City need a win against Olympic Kingsway at Hilton Park to keep their slim top four hopes alive, while Mandurah City welcome Subiaco to Genesiscare Stadium. Western Knights could wrap up the runners up spot with a win against Forrestfield United at Nash Field, but a win for Joondalup United, who host champions Stirling Macedonia at Forrest Park, would see it go down to the final game. Joondalup midfielder Jay Lang said last week win was tough, but they got the result. “Last week was a very scrappy encounter against an energetic UWA side,” he said. “I felt we were probably the better team on the whole and deserved to come away with the win but definitely not one of our better performances.
“We’ve been on a good run of form of late and have managed to narrow the gap between ourselves and Western Knights in second place. We obviously have two games left of the regular season and we’ll be looking to take maximum points from them to give us a chance of the runners up spot on the ladder. Stirling will be a massive test for us this weekend but one which the whole squad is looking forward to.”
STATE LEAGUE DIVISION TWO ROUND TWENTY ONE – PREVIEW
Our week 21 State League Division Two ’Match of the Round’ takes us to Wanneroo Reserve where Balga travel to take on third placed Wanneroo City. (All games kick off at 3.00pm unless otherwise stated) With the top four finals not taking place this season, the race for a spot in Division One promotion/relegation playoff is heating up with only two points separating four teams. Wanneroo missed an opportunity to seal a spot last week when they were beaten at home by Joondalup City, while Balga made it four games without defeat and move well clear of the drop zone, this after a hard fought 3-1 win against Kelmscott last week.
Wanneroo coach Jesse Bridgeman said last week wasn’t their day, but is confident they can turn things around. “Yes, very disappointed on our performance last week, we had a day that nothing went right for us,” he explained. “And it’s a very bad time of the season for it to happen, but things are still in our hands and only we can turn it around so we must move on.”
He is expecting a tough game this week against an improving Balga side, but he knows three points are vital if they are to keep their play off hopes in their own hands. “This week’s challenge is very difficult, hosting Balga who have been in great for the second half on the season,” Bridgeman said. “They held us to a goalless draw at their home, so we will definitely have to be on our top form if we want to take the points and keep things in our hands.’
Balga midfielder Liam Kessel said the win against Kelmscott continued their good form for the second part of the season. “It was a game of character, a few of us were injured, and a few played for the 18s earlier,” he explained. “It’s a mark of a good team to get the three points even with a poor performance - all the best for Kelmscott next season. The coach (Gerhard) always likes to point out we are third in the second half of the season - which shows our intent for next season, the boys have banded together, it’s a great place to be.”
A trip to Wanneroo is tough, especially with them pushing for the play-offs, but Kessel said they are going their full of confidence and looking for a positive result. “They are tough, but we are keen to finish the season on a high,” he said. “We’ll be fighting for payback from the reverse fixture, and we want to show others that we have the quality to compete for the playoffs.”
In other games in the play-off race, fifth placed Gosnells City head to Burrendah Reserve for the local derby against Canning City needing three points to keep their hopes alive, likewise fourth placed Murdoch University Melville who host Joondalup City at Wormall Civil Stadium. Morley Windmills welcome Carramar Shamrock Rovers to Wotton Reserve, while champions Dianella White Eagles will look to remain unbeaten for the season when they host Kelmscott Roos at Dianella Reserve and will be presented their trophy after the game. (4.00pm)
In the final game, second placed Kingsley Westside will look to bounce back from defeat at Gosnells last week, when they travel to Edinburgh Oval to take on Curtin University. Kingsley skipper Jayden Drummond said they got what they deserved last week against a hungry Gosnells side, but he is confident they will bounce back on Saturday.
“Gosnells are a decent side, and it could’ve gone either way in the first half. We could’ve been a couple up but couldn’t quite find the net, but the result was probably a fair outcome as they had us on the back foot in the last half an hour,” he explained. “Some results went our way last week but we can’t be relying on other teams. We need the three points this week so the boys will be chomping at the bit to get out there. Everybody seems to be taking the points off everyone this time of year so concentration will be key in all areas.”
BELT UP AMATEUR LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION - ROUND TWENTY PREVIEW
he Belt Up Amateur Premier Division title race looks like going down to the wire, and with only four games to go South West Phoenix hold a narrow one-point lead over Maddington White City, while at the other end a number of clubs are fighting to stay in the Division. This week we look at both the title contenders’ games, and first Phoenix host relegation threatened Joondalup United at Onside Sports Stadium in Bunbury on Saturday evening (5.00pm). Phoenix eased past Queens Park last week, while Joondalup slipped closer to the drop zone after a heavy loss against Kwinana United, so this one is massive for both sides.
Phoenix striker Lee Stewart bagged two last week, and he said it was another solid performance on the road. “It was another good win on the road, we were able to control the game well from start to finish and even though we were a little wasteful in the first half we managed to take the game away from them in the second half,” the skipper explained. “I thought defensively the boys were outstanding even with a bit of a reshuffle with a couple missing, but credit to Queens Park who didn’t give up and battled all the way to end.”
Stewart said Saturday’s opponents are fighting at the other end of the table, but knows they are a good side and they will have to be on their toes from the first whistle. “Joondalup are a dangerous team to be facing at the moment. They’ve been on a better run of games recently and we will have to be prepared for another battle this week with so much on the line for both sides,” he said. “After a couple away games it will be good to get back out in front of the home support Saturday night.”
Joondalup coach Neil Sherwin said it’s a big assignment for his side, but they will head down there and give it their all. “We know it will be a difficult game down in Bunbury and we'll have a few lads unavailable due to work and family commitments, but there is also a massive appetite to bounce back from a poor performance last week,” he explained. “There's 12 points to play for in the coming month and we need as many as possible if we're to stay up so the aim is to take something from the game on Saturday evening. Phoenix have their own ambitions which should make for a good contest.”
Meanwhile Maddington host Leeming Strikers at Nikola Tesla Reserve. (All other games kick off at 3.00pm unless otherwise stated) The hosts are coming off a 3-1 win against UWA last week, while Leeming put distance between the relegation zone after a big win against North Perth. The Strikers have a good record against City, beating them twice already this season in league and cup, and they produced a good performance last week to beat North Perth, which pleased player/coach David Palin, and he expecting another tough game on Sunday.
“Sunday will be another tough game, and like you said we have beaten them twice this year, but going to their ground is another test in itself,” he said. “Last year when we played them, their crowd created a really good atmosphere, they cheered every tackle, every pass and their players definitely lifted from their support, I'm expecting similar this week and with them needing wins to keep their title hopes alive. We’re not mathematically safe, teams will be looking at our result at the top and bottom of the league with interest. We need to be at our best if we want to walk away with anything this week, we're looking forward to the game and the challenge it will bring.”
In other games this weekend it’s third fourth as Kwinana United welcome Quinns to Kelly Park, while Queens Park head to Butlers Reserve to take on Wembley Downs and they need the points sitting only four points off the drop zone. In the early game North Perth United will look to bounce back from their loss at Leeming last week when they host Jaguar at Woodville Reserve (1.00pm), while I’m the final game UWA Nedlands make the trip to Carine Open Space to take on relegated Hamersley Rovers.
GLORY FIND NEW HOME IN FREMANTLE
Perth Glory have found a new home and are set to move into offices at Fremantle Oval. Glory were forced to find a new home after RugbyWA refused to renew their sub-lease at their offices in Floreat in June. They will move into the former Fremantle Dockers’ offices that have been used by Fremantle Council since 2017 when the Dockers moved to Cockburn.
Glory will sign a three-year lease with a two-year option at the home of South Fremantle Football Club. “The elite-level facilities at Fremantle Oval will be hugely beneficial for our A-League and W-League squads and this move will play a major role in reinforcing our drive to bring sustained success to the club,” chief executive Tony Pignata said.
Glory will carry out some training at the ground and may host pre-season and exhibition games. Fremantle Council has endorsed a $37 million masterplan for the redevelopment of Fremantle Oval which includes new clubrooms, grandstands, improved spectator facilities and lighting upgrades.
GLORY ADD TWO FOR NEW SEASON
Perth Glory have boosted their squad for the coming season with the signing of winger Pacifique Niyongabire and defender Antonee Burke-Gilroy on two-year deals. But they have lost forward Carlo Armiento for at least six months after he ruptured his ACL in training.
Niyongabire, 21, who has been on trial with the club, moved from Adelaide United where he made 21 A-League appearances and scored one goal, ironically against Glory in the the 2019/20 season. “It’s an exciting new challenge and I’m looking to get some more game-time,” Niyongabire said. “I made my A-League debut in 2018, so it’s been stop-start so far, but I’m hoping to go forward from here.”
Burke-Gilroy, 23, spent his youth career with Newcastle Jets before moving to Brisbane Roar. The London-born right-back, who can also play as a wide midfielder, made his A-League debut for Brisbane Roar last season after spells in Portugal with Academica and US clubs Seattle Sounders and Tacoma Defence.
“I see this as a massive opportunity moving forward in my career,” said Burke-Gilroy. “I’m very happy to be here, it’s a new challenge. I’m ready for the test and I can’t wait to get the ball rolling. My target is to get game-time and establish myself as an A-League player.”
Coach Richard Garcia said he was excited by the duo’s potential. “Both are good young prospects who will add depth to the squad,” Garcia said. “They’re eager to stake a claim in the A-League and push forward in their careers. We’re very pleased to have them on board.”
Glory can look for an injury replacement for Armiento, 22, who scored three times after moving from Adelaide United. “Football can be a cruel game sometimes. I’m heartbroken to announce that I have ruptured my ACL,” Armiento wrote on Twitter. “Surgery all went well, the road to recovery starts now. Everything happens for a reason, I’ll be back better than ever.”
A-LEAGUE DRIVING WILLIAMS TO SUCCESS
Rhys Williams won't close the door completely on realising his World Cup dream but Western Sydney recruit says, for now, his Socceroos career is over. The defender was so highly touted as a teenager he was the target of a tug-of-war between Australia and Wales before opting to play for the country of his birth in 2009.
Debuting later that year against Japan, Williams was picked in the preliminary squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa only to be subsequently ruled out due to injury. Another injury wrecked his 2014 World Cup hopes before he was overlooked entirely for the preliminary list for the 2018 tournament in Russia despite having just won the A-League championship with Melbourne Victory.
After two seasons with Saudi club Al-Qadsiah, Williams has returned to Australia with the Wanderers on a two-year deal but the move isn't about forcing his way back into the Socceroos picture. "I'm at a stage now where I've spoken to Arnie (coach Graham Arnold) and pulled my name out of the hat," Williams said this week.
"I was on standby a lot of the time and right now at my age and with a family I don't want to be in the middle of here or there. If he ever needs me, of course I would gladly put my hand up ... you never know what the future holds of course - it would always be nice to play at a World Cup - but ultimately he's got his players that he likes and he trusts and he's had a good spell with them now."
Williams is one of several new arrivals at the Wanderers as coach Carl Robinson overhauls his squad following a fourth-consecutive campaign for the club without finals in 2020/21. And while he's officially out of Socceroos reckoning at this stage, the 32-year old says a good season in red and black could end that exodus.
"As everyone knows, the obvious thing is if you're doing well for your club then things open up and people start paying attention," Williams said. "My main thing is to concentrate on my club football. Do the best I can for this club because we need a big season for the size of this football club - right now that's my only priority, to get fit and do well for this club."
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This page was last updated on the 26th August, 2021