BABABLJ REPAYS COACH'S CONVICTION
Newcastle Jets coach Arthur Papas has believed in Eli Babalj from the day they met at the Australian Institute of Sport half a lifetime ago. A freaklish talent, Babalj's career hasn't taken the trajectory that he - and most - had hoped. But Papas was willing to throw the now 30-yearold striker an A-League lifeline.
Babalj part repaid that faith with a late equaliser off the bench to snatch a 2-2 draw with Macarthur FC on Saturday. "I have a lot of belief in Eli," said Papas of the striker's first A-League goal since 2013. "I have had from the start. I felt that he could impact the game when he came on. When the opportunity came, he took it."
Babalj thought he had a second and deciding goal in stoppage time, but he was flagged for offside. "I wish the second one was counted as well," Babalj said. "When I come onto the pitch I try to contribute in different ways. But getting the goal is always special."
Babalj left Melbourne Heart at the end of the 2012/13 campaign to join Dutch club AZ Alkmaar but his career never got going again and bounced around leagues in Europe and Asia in between a couple of major injuries. Now, with a full preseason under his belt, Papas is confident the best is to come.
"The main thing for Eli is that he is working hard," Papas said. "In terms of his feet, Eli is one of the most gifted I have worked with over a long period of time. It is making sure his body can handle the rigors of professional football."
"Then it's about taking your opportunities when they come. There is no is guarantee when they come but you have to be ready. The last two or three games he has sat on the sideline and hasn't actually got on. I know he is focused and if he comes he can make an impact for us."
PLAYERS STRUGGLE TO KEEP FOCUS AFTER LONG ROAD HAUL
Perth Glory men’s A-League woes continued as they slumped to a 2-0 loss to high-flying Western United at UTAS Stadium in Launceston on Sunday. And coach Richard Garcia admits it is a struggle to keep players focused on the game after 45 days on the road and a return home imminent.
Glory are now 10th, above Central Coast Mariners and Brisbane Roar only on goal difference, seven points out of the top six. And it does not get any easier for Glory who face second-placed Melbourne City on Wednesday.
“It hasn’t been easy at all. It sure does take a toll,” Garcia said. “Its getting to that point where heads and eyes are looking at the return. It’s about trying to refocus the guys and focus on the football. There’s a few tired minds and a few tired bodies.”
GLORY FINALS HOPES HANG IN THE BALANCE
Perth Glory’s Liberty Women’s A-League top four hopes took a dent on Sunday, after a 1-3 loss to league leaders Sydney FC at UTAS Stadium in Launceston. The Sky Blues dominated from the outset and it was Nat Tobin who gave them the lead at the break. A second half brace from Matildas’ winger Cortnee Vine sealed the win, but a first goal for the club from Aideen Keane gave Glory a lift late, but it was as good as it got for Alex Epakis’ side.
The result means Glory remain in fifth spot, two points behind Melbourne Victory and must now beat Wellington Phoenix in next week’s final game of the regular season and hope that Victory lose their home clash with Canberra United. The Head Coach said post-match, that his side weren’t at their best, but was encouraged by their second-half display. “I think we started a little bit flat, unfortunately and after about 20 minutes, we started to play more in our style and more what we were trying to do,” he told the Glory website.
“But then we conceded a goal and in the second half, we tried really hard, but they just had a bit more quality in key moments and I think that was the difference. I said at the start of the week that it was just about two performances, but today wasn’t what we wanted in terms of the result and now we have Wellington. If we do what we need to do and are good enough, the points will take care of themselves. We just have to make sure we follow the process and the game plan and perform, do our best to win the match and if other things go our way, that’s a bonus, but I’m not looking past the Wellington game.”
It was the Sky Blues who started brightly in wet conditions in Tasmania, but it took them until 34 minutes to break down and overworked Glory defence. Mackenzie Hawkesby’s corner was met at the near post by Tobin who hooked the ball past Courtney Newbon. Glory hit back and only a fine block from defender Ally Green then prevented Hana Lowry from drawing Glory level at the start of the second half and Sydney made the most of that let-off by doubling their lead moments later. Vine raced clear on goal before calmly lifting the ball over the advancing Newbon. Two soon became three as Sydney took the game away from Glory, and it was Vine again who grabbed her second and the Sky Blues’ third on the hour-mark, this time sliding home a low cross from Princess Ibini.
To their credit, Glory refused to buckle in the final third of the game and earned a deserved consolation in the shadows of full-time. Skipper Natasha Rigby began the move with a surging run down the left, Lisa De Vanna then slipped the ball into the path of Keane and she applied a neat, first-time finish to find the net. They went close to a second in stoppage time, some neat build up play saw Cyera Hintzen in on goal, but her effort flashed the wrong side of the upright. Glory’s Finals fate will now be decided on Friday when they face Wellington at WIN Stadium in Wollongong, while Victory host Canberra United, with both games getting underway at 2.05pm WST.
Perth Glory: GK Courtney NEWBON, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 5 Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE, 8 Hana LOWRY (9 Demi KOULIZAKIS 69'), 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM (11 Lisa DE VANNA 46'), 12 Sofia SAKALIS (21 Aideen KEANE 46'), 13 Sarah CAIN (18 Sadie LAWRENCE 69'), 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 22 Claudia MIHOCIC, 26 Mie LETH JANS - Subs not used: RGK Morgan AQUINO
Sydney FC: GK Jada WHYMAN, 3 Charlotte MCLEAN, 5 Ally GREEN (6 Sarah HUNTER 79'), 8 Rachel LOWE (4 Jessika NASH 79'), 10 Remy SIEMSEN (9 Maria ROJAS 66'), 11 Cortnee VINE (16 Kahli JOHNSON 71'), 12 Natalie TOBIN, 15 Mackenzie HAWKESBY, 18 Taylor RAY, 19 Charlize RULE, 20 Princess IBINI-ISEI - Subs not used: RGK Katie OFFER - Referee: Rebecca Mackie
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK FIVE REVIEW
The NPLMWA Night Series Semi-Final places have been decided after Week Five games this weekend. First in Group A, four teams were in with a chance of qualifying, and on Friday it was Perth SC who moved through after a 3-1 win against hosts Sorrento at Percy Doyle Reserve. Marc Wingell’s side were ahead on the half hour, with skipper Paul Zimarino scoring, and Daniel Zivkovic doubled their advantage just before half time. But the Gulls found a way back into the game just after the hour, Scott Witschge on target, and both sides pressed. But it was Perth who sealed the game in the final minute, American striker Hasani Sinclair finding the target. “It was a good performance and result from the boys,” keeper Luke Radonich said. “I thought it was a good around performance, we took our chances and were solid at the back. We roll onto the semi-finals now and hopefully we put in another performance next week.”
In the Saturday games holders Inglewood United needed only a point to qualify for the knockout stage, but they won all three after a 3-1 win against Balcatta Etna in the early game at Dalmatinac Park. Andres Oliveira’s side were ahead on 12 minutes, Harry Evans finding the target, and Egide Ngendakumana doubled their advantage on 37 minutes. But Balcatta were back in the game four minutes later, with Michael Scafetta scoring. Inglewood, who beat Perth SC to win the Night series Final last season, wrapped up the points just after the hour, with Ngendakumana adding his second to seal a 3-1 win. “I thought we performed well considering we had six players out of the team, two in isolation, two suspended and Scott Blackmore and myself rested,” Inglewood skipper Alex Dunn said. “The lads defended well as a unit and thought we were clinical in our finishing. Looking forward to moving onto the semi-finals next week.”
In the late game at the venue Armadale ended their group games with a comprehensive 6-1 win against hosts Cockburn City. Adriano Jelenovic put the Reds ahead after only four minutes, before Kevin Gallo doubled their advantage on 14 minutes later. Both these sides were looking for their first win in the competition and it was John O’Reilly’s side that made it 3-0 on the hour, Gallo adding his second. Cockburn pulled one back two minutes later, with Jesse Lazzaro converting from the spot, but it was Armadale who ended the better. French import Paul De La Chaneliere added a fourth, before Peter Jacobsz and another from Jelenovic secured the big win. “So far that has been the most balanced performance we have put in during the competition,” Armadale coach John O’Reilly said. “We have shown passages in games of what we can do, but tonight we had the right mix when in transition between attack and defence. It was a great team performance, with also some personal bests.
In Group B Floreat Athena and Stirling Macedonia moved into the semi-finals, after both won their final group games. First on Friday evening at Percy Doyle Reserve Floreat took on Perth Glory, with both sides needing a win to go through, and it was Floreat who opened the scoring after only two minutes, former Glory youth striker Bayley Brown-Montgomery on target. They doubled their lead on 25 minutes, Phil Arnold on target. Glory went close to levelling before the break, but Joshua Anasmo and Judd MacDougall both hitting the woodwork. But Chris Coyne’s side were back in it early in the second half, Danny Douglas long-range shot flying home.
The Glory youngster levelled three minutes later, Tyler Vecchio’s low cross was turned home by Jayden Gorman. Floreat had the perfect opportunity to regain the lead on the hour, but Glory keeper Adrian Sinagra saved Jesse Fuller’s spot kick. But it was Vas Vujacic’s side that won it on 68 minutes, Sean McManus firing home the winner to send his side through to the semi-finals. “A great result for us to cement a place in the semi-final especially after the first-round loss to Stirling,” Floreat Athena coach Vas Vujacic said. “I thought in the first half we were very good creating numerous opportunities and some nice football in general. We made it more difficult than it should have been in the second half conceding two sloppy goals, but overall happy to continue our preseason preparation with some meaningful games and a chance to win a trophy.”
Stirling Macedonia made it five from five games to top Group B after a come from behind 4-2 win against ECU Joondalup in the game game at Frank Drago Reserve on Saturday evening. Kenny Lowe’s side hit the front on the half hour with Chok Dau scoring, before skipper Ellis Healing add a second on 39 minutes. But Stirling hit back moments later with Alex Tanevski scoring, and they were level just after half time, with Tanevski on target again. Former Perth SC striker Michael Domfeh made it 3-2 on the hour, before Tanevski put the icing on the cake for Ian Fergusons side, completing his hat-trick late. “In the first half we started well but gave ECU a bit too much time and space on the ball, allowed them play and that cost us. At half time we sorted out what we had to and came out with a much better set up,” Stirling’s Shay Donovan said. “We pressed hard and created good chances which we converted well. We’re all excited to be heading into the finals with a perfect record. Just need to maintain our momentum and keep our heads ahead of our next game now.
In the late game at the venue Bayswater City made it back-to-back wins, with a 5-1 win against Gwelup Croatia. Both sides were already out of the competition, but it was Bayswater who opened the brighter, but on ten minutes it was the visitors who opened the scoring. Good work down the right by Samuel Dweh saw him find Rene Ali Kisesa, who finished well from the edge of the box. But eight minutes later City levelled, with Fraser Dunlop finding the net from a tight angle. Gareth Naven’s side hit the front on the half hour, after City punished some sloppy defending, with Kosta Sparta firing home.
Both had chances after the break, but it was the hosts who blow the game wide open late. First on 80 minutes Gordon Smith made it 3-1, before a late brace from former Gwelup striker Ndumba Makeche secured the win. “Great to end the campaign with a solid performance. We created an abundance of chances and on another day, it could’ve been a lot more,” Bayswater striker Gordon smith explained. “We now look forward to the league campaign and can go into it confident after winning two on the bounce.” The draw for the Semi-Finals was made today with holders Inglewood United hosting Floreat Athena in the early game at Inglewood Stadium on Saturday (5.00pm), while Stirling Macedonia take on Perth SC in the late game at the venue (7.00pm)
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES – QUARTER FINAL REVIEW
The State League Night Series Quarter-Finals has produced four great games, with plenty of goals and entertaining football. First on Friday evening at Hartfield Park Quinns took on the only Division Two side still left in, but it was Glenn Grostate’s side who ran out 3-1 winners. But it was Curtin who shocked Quinns on 35 minutes to take the lead, Kieran Witt on target. They held the lead until 14 minutes from time, when Liam Hudson levelled. Then three minutes later Quinns hit the front, last season’s top goalscorer Ben Hinshelwood finding the net. They sealed the win two minutes from time, when substitute Kieron Craig added a third.
“The Curtin game was a definite confidence booster for all the lads even though our first half start wasn’t up to our normal standard the lads all came out in the second half and had a much better performance especially in the final third and prevailed with three goals,” Hinshelwood said. “This gives us momentum coming into the semi-finals this week, the night series has seen Quinn’s use a lot of different formations averagely changing twice per game so far but it’s been very beneficial for all the lads and Glen and is ultimately what the tournament is for on top of that it has caused our previous opponents some problems. All the lads are all fired up and looking forward to this Friday’s match up whoever that may be against.”
Western Knights also moved into the Semi-Finals after a 4-3 penalty shoot-out win against hosts Forrestfield United in the late game at the venue. The Knights hit the front five minutes before half time, with Dylan White scoring. But Forrestfield lifted after the break and deservedly levelled nine minutes from time with substitute Moses Macauley scoring. Forrestfield almost won it late but Macauley fired wide with the goal at his mercy. So, it was off to penalties, and both keepers made a save each, but Noah Shamaki scored the fifth, and Forrestfield missed their fifth to send the Knights through.
Knights coach Adam Kostrencic said it was a hard-fought win. “We were happy to go into half time with a 1-0 lead against a very energetic and organised Forrestfield team. I thought we started the second half well and were on top for the early stages but we failed to capitalise on some good chances to find another goal,” he explained. “Forrestfield’s equaliser appeared to lift them and they finished off the stronger team towards the end of the game. But the penalty shoot-out went our way and we look forward to continuing our preparation with a semi-final this week.”
Forrestfield coach Richard Abrams said it’s a hard way to go out, but saw some positives to take forward. “Our young players will take a lot away from the game, and no matter what the competition is losing on penalties is always a bitter pill to swallow,” he said. “Matching a quality team like the Knights particularly in the second half was pleasing. Conceding one goal in the last three games is a huge positive and matching Knights over 90 minutes is something to hold us in good stead for the upcoming FFA cup game v Dianella White Eagles.”
Olympic Kingsway are also through to the Semi-Finals after a hard-fought 2-1 win against Dianella White Eagles at Wanneroo Reserve on Saturday evening. “I thought we controlled the majority of the game and we’re worthy winners but it was disappointing to lose a cheap goal late,” Coach David Tough said. “We’ll look forward to the semi-final and the opportunity to get more minutes in the legs.” A tight first half ended scoreless, but two minutes into the second half it was Olympic who opened the scoring, with Raeez Pandor scoring. They doubled their advantage six minutes later, when last season’s Division One top goalscorer Ciaran Bryne found the net. Dianella pulled one back four minutes from time through Nikola Talimdzioski, but they couldn’t find the equaliser.
“It was a great team performance, all the boys played really well. We struggled last week against Joondalup and we knew we needed to lift our game to beat Dianella, in which we did,” striker Ciaran Byrne explained. “We worked on a few things in training last week that new would hurt them and it worked. Disappointed to concede a goal at the end which put some pressure on us, but we handled it and grinded out the results which shows again we can handle that pressure when it comes at us. It’s preseason after all and we have a completely new team and showing great signs. We are still getting to know each other but getting strong each week. Looking forward to the semis now for another challenge and hopefully book ourself into the final.”
In the late game at the venue Murdoch University Melville also moved into the semi-final, after a 3-1 win against Subiaco. “It was a great team performance against a well organised Subiaco side,” MUM coach Taki Nicolaidis said. “I’m super happy for the playing group and also for the club who have made the Semi Final for the very first time. We just need to continue working hard and improving on what we’ve done so far.” MUM, were ahead in this one on the half hour, Feisal Zaw scoring and they lead by that goal at the break. They doubled their lead on 67 minutes with Declan Tanna on target, and it looked game over.
But six minutes from time Subiaco pulled one back, Lachlan Hannah scoring and it set up a tense finish. But in stoppage time MUM sealed the tie, with midfielder Patrick Sara adding a third. “We played against a good young side but ultimately played some great football and deserved the win,” MUM’s Feisal Zaw said. “After they (Subiaco) scored we definitely had to sweat a bit but were able to keep our composure and score another goal to steady ourselves. It's only preseason and we'll continue to build on these performances.”
The Semi-Final draw was made today with Murdoch University Melville taking on Quinns in the early game at Hartfield Park on Friday (6.30pm), while Olympic Kingsway and Western Knights meet in the late game at the venue (8.30pm)
AUSTRALIA CUP (WA) - ROUND TWO REVIEW
It was the second round of the Australia Cup (WA) with five games over the weekend. First on Friday night Ballajura AFC moved through with a 5-0 win against Port Kennedy at Kingfisher Park. Goals from Toni Sips, Oliver Taseski, Leo Perrotta and a double from Davor Pavic helped the side ease into the next round of the competition and a tie against Maddington White Eagles in round three. On Sunday the game between Tuart Hill and Football Margret River at Woodchester Reserve was forfeited by the home side (Tuart Hill), Margret River will take on South West Phoenix in the next round.
North Beach SC caused the biggest upset on the day beating Premier League side North Perth United 5-1 at Woodville Reserve, with Alex Kretowicz bagging all five goals. It sets up a third-round tie at home against South Perth United. “It was a great team performance and quite rightly Alex Kretowicz will take the plaudits for the goals and his all-round performance. His pace, control and composure on his debut for North Beach were a joy to watch and he caused the North Perth defence no end of problems all day. His partnership with Ben Reynolds can only get better and will cause many teams headaches this season,” Club President Simon Collins said.
“I was very proud of the boys today. They've worked hard pre-season, especially on fitness and today it showed. The team were good technically, but they all worked tirelessly to keep out a physical and experienced North Perth outfit who won the Amateur Premier league as recently as 2020. It was a great game to watch from ours and probably from a neutral perspective. We have quite a young squad in the whole Amateur Squad and I think they will get better the more they play together and the more experienced they get.”
In the all-Premier League clash Jaguar beat Wembley Downs 3-0 at the Ellenbrook Sports Hub. Conor O’Driscoll opened the scoring, before Kuol Riak doubled their lead. The game was put to bed by the Jags with Magai Deng adding a third, Jags will travel to Emerald FC in the next round. In the last tie Premier League side Maddington White City beat Maccabi 3-1 at Nikola Tesla Reserve, and they travel to Ballajura in the next round.
GLORY LOSE BACK-TO-BACK IN TASMANIA
Perth Glory have lost back-to-back Isuzu Ute Men’s A-League games at their home away from home in Tasmania, after goals from Serbian striker Aleksander Prijovic and Young Socceroo Dylan Pierias either side of half time saw Western United runout 2-0 at the UTAS Stadium in Launceston. The win moved John Aloisi’s side top of the ladder, the loss leaves Glory tenth and a finals spot in doubt, but with a return to HBF Park soon, they will hope to climb the table.
Glory Head Coach said despite the loss the side is heading in the right direction. “The difference between tonight and the other night [the midweek defeat against Macarthur FC] was like chalk and cheese,” he said. “I thought the lads were a lot better, and they played the way we need to play and we probably just need to be a bit more clinical and have a bit more cutting edge in that final third.
“The guys played very well up to the final third and were very patient, but just lacked that bit of ingenuity to break things down. “Credit to Western United, they sit behind the ball and get everyone behind the ball very quickly and we just needed a bit more creativity in that final third. “If we build off tonight’s performance, I think the guys are heading in the right direction.”
Liam Reddy was the first of the two keepers called into action, the Glory custodian reacting smartly to parry an angled drive from the lively Pierias. But Glory hit back with an immediate response, Bruno Fornaroli who wriggled free in the box and drew a reflex save from Jamie Young low to his left. But it was the visitors who made the breakthrough seven minutes before the break, a ball into the box found former Glory defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who diverted the ball into the path of Prijovic who calmly slotted home his fifth goal of the season.
Glory was given a mountain to climb early in the second half when former Glory skipper Neil Kilkenny sent Ben Garuccio racing away down the left and his low cross was turned home neatly by Pierias. Glory looked for a goal to get back into the game and Fornaroli and substitute Daniel Stynes were both narrowly off-target in the latter stages, during which Darko Stanojevic made his Glory debut off the bench, but there was to be no comeback as United reinforced their league-best defensive credentials by holding firm. Glory return to action in Melbourne on Wednesday, when they take on Melbourne City at AAMI Park – Kick off 4.05pm WA Time.
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 5 Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 8 Kosuke OTA (38 Ciaran BRAMWELL 64'), 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 14 Jack CLISBY, 19 Callum TIMMINS (18 Daniel STYNES 73'), 21 Antonee BURKE-GILROY, 22 Josh RAWLINS (43 Adam ZIMARINO 64'), 23 Mitch OXBORROW (13 Brandon O’NEILL 64'), 26 Giordano COLLI, 29 Darryl LACHMAN (16 Darko STANOJEVIC 73') - Subs not used: RGK Cameron COOK, 11 Nick FITZGERALD
Western United: GK Jamie YOUNG, 4 Leo LACROIX, 5 Dylan PIERIAS (27 Jerry SKOTADIS 81'), 8 Lachlan WALES, 10 Steven LUSTICA (31 Adisu BAYEW 81'), 16 Rene KRHIN (9 Dylan WENZEL-HALLS 62'), 17 Ben GARUCCIO, 19 Josh RISDON (6 Tomoki IMAI 83'), 44 Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 88 Neil KILKENNY, 99 Aleksandar PRIJOVIC - Subs not used: RGK Ryan SCOTT, 26 Nicolas MILANOVIC, 34 Christian THEOHAROUS - Referee: Jonathan Barreiro
CIRCATI MAKES ITALIAN STARTING DEBUT
Former Perth Sc and Perth Glory Youth defender Alessandro Circati has made his starting debut for Italian Serie B side Parma Calcio, and helped them to a 4-0 win against SPAL FC on Saturday. First half goals from Gennaro Tutino and Adrian Bernabe put Giuseppe Iachini side in control, before Franco Vazquez and Adrian Benedyczak added the others after the break, which secured a much-needed win for Parma. Circati, whose father Gianfranco played with Perth Glory in 1998-99, and also had two spells at the Stadio Ennio Tardini, and Alessandro said he was thrilled to make his debut and to gain three points, even though his dad was unaware he was starting. “He didn’t even know I was going to play as a starter,” he said. “Before every game, he tells me that if I’m going to play, I have to give it all I’ve got, but above all, he always tells me that I should enjoy myself.”
Perth SC congratulated Circati on their Twitter account. “A 4-0 win is a pretty good result for a defender in your debut match… We’re so proud to see Ale Circati make his senior starting debut for ParmaCalcio overnight. The Perth SC junior led the back line with none other than Gianluigi. Buffon as his captain in goals. Congrats Ale! Circati said the players in the side helped him settle his nerves. “It was the perfect debut and the whole team played the perfect game, we gave it our all, we ran our hearts out on the pitch today. It’s been an incredible day, and Gianluigi Buffon is always there to help you, he talks to you all the time and helps you a lot, even the forwards, the young guys, not only on the pitch but also in the dressing room,” Circati said post-match.
“I came off the pitch with cramps, I stopped for two minutes and then I continued even though I wasn’t at 100%. I did what I could to get the three points today and to fight with the team. If I play with the first team, I’ll be very happy, if I play with the Primavera team, I’ll be happy too and I’ll always be ready to play for both sides. A lot of the lads helped me, they calmed me down, then, in the end, I went out on the pitch, had fun and played football.” He went on to tell reporters about his football journey in football. “I was born in Fidenza, near here, then when I was a few months old I went to Australia with my family, mum, dad and my brother. I started playing football there, in the youth sector, and a year ago I came here to Parma,” he said. “I take inspiration from Maldini, he was a left-back but he also played in the middle, I take inspiration from him.”
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK FIVE PREVIEW
It’s the final round of the NPLMWA Night Series group stage, and semi-final spots are still available for seven teams. In Group A only one point separates the top four and they all meet this weekend. First up on Friday evening Sorrento host Perth SC in the early game at Percy Doyle Reserve, and it’s a must win game for both teams. The Gulls sit second after a big win against Armadale last week, while the Azzurri dropped to fourth after a loss against Inglewood. Sorrento midfielder Tim Hill said it wasn’t a good start against Armadale, but they fought back to take the points. ‘We started really poorly defensively and made some silly mistakes that cost us goals. Then we had a change of shape and knew if we could get one before half time we would be in for a sniff and luckily, we managed to be leading at half time and then ran away with it in the second half,” he said. “We’re hoping to kick on from the last 75 minutes from last week and continue on with the intensity and quality we showed and hopefully the result will come with that and roll into the semis.”
Perth assistant coach Dale Wingell, said they didn’t execute against Inglewood, and the opposition did. “The result was disappointing considering we dominated possession over the 90 minutes. We made some changes to the squad and we will continue to do that, but we know it’s all about putting it in the back of the net and we didn’t execute as we would have liked so fair play to Inglewood for taking their chances,” he explained. “We have a young team and this game was a big learning curve for them, but the night series is all about the players. It has been a positive start for our playing group, and the players are all at different stages of the pre-season and Marc and my job is to get them in the best possible shape come the first game of the season. That being said there is a great opportunity to progress and extend our run of games for another week at least. We will continue to experiment and tinker with the team. The boys are in a confident mood but are aware of what is at stake on Friday, so ultimately, they will decide if we play another week.”
It’s first v third in the early game on Saturday evening at Dalmatinac Park, with holders Inglewood United taking on the improving Balcatta. Both sides have been impressive in recent weeks, and they know a slip up on Saturday will see them bow out. Balcatta skipper Jon Corness said last week’s big win against Cockburn showed how far they have come in pre-season, and its winners takes all on Saturday. “Overall, it was a very good performance against Cockburn, we took our chances and we were solid in defence when Cockburn has spells of control, and all over the pitch we were great,” the skipper said. “Really excited to play Inglewood this weekend, winner takes all. It's a fantastic chance to be in the mix for the semi-finals, we plan on taking the positivity from the Cockburn game into this one and hopefully come away with a good result. We know how we need to play to get the best results, and that's the mindset we take into this game.”
Inglewood defender Alex Ishida-Livings said the performance against Perth was good, and after a slow start to the tournament they are starting to hit their straps. “I think the win was a testament to how well we've been adjusting as a squad. There's been a lot of changes in the off-season in terms of players and tactics but there's a great vibe within the squad at the moment and everyone's on-board with Andres' demands,” he explained. “Our primary focus is continuing to build our fitness and familiarity with the system. Balcatta will always be a tough opponent due to their intensity but we're looking forward to the challenge and hopefully we'll do enough to make the Semi's.” The final game in the group sees hosts Cockburn City entertain Armadale in the late game at Dalmatinac Park. Both teams are out of the competition and are still searching for their first win, so both will be looking to end the competition on a high.
In Group B on Friday evening, it’s another winner takes all as second placed Floreat Athena take on third place Perth Glory in the late game at Percy Doyle Reserve. Glory missed the opportunity last week, losing against Bayswater, while Floreat beat ECU Joondalup, and that win has put them on pole position, only needing a draw to progress. Sean McManus, who was on target in the 3-1 win, said they deserved it. “It was a brilliant win I feel as though we are getting better each week. As a team we worked really well and defended our lead well against ECU even though we had a few boys out but the young boys who stepped in did excellent,” he said. “For the game on Friday night against Perth Glory, that’s the type of games you want to be playing in the bigger games that mean something and a semi-final spot is definitely where we want to be. The boys are firing and ready to go so our goal is to get through this game and the semis and add another Night Series trophy to the club’s trophy cabinet.”
Glory midfielder Chris Donnell said last week was a missed opportunity, but they did have chances but failed to convert them, and they will look to put that right on Friday. “It’s always a difficult game when you play against Bayswater and it was a tight game for the majority, but in the second half we started to dominate the game and had some chances to win the game. On a different day we could’ve scored a few however it wasn’t meant to be,” he said. “Friday is a very big game, and we know Floreat will put up a good fight, and they’re coming off the back of a few good results and will be well up for it. We are treating it like a quarter final in which hopefully we can win and try progress in the tournament and win some silverware. All we can do is focus on ourselves and try play the best we can to get the three points and advance in the tournament.”
Stirling Macedonia have already qualified for the next stage, and Ian Ferguson’s side will be looking for a clean sweep when they take on ECU Joondalup in the late game at a Frank Drago Reserve. On the other hand, Joondalup can still mathematically make the next stage, but will need results to go there way and bang on a few goals. They missed a chance last week against Floreat, but skipper Ellis Healing said despite the loss there was still some good signs, and all they can do is win and see where it takes them, but he knows Stirling are playing well at the moment. “We never want to lose and are never happy losing but we can’t be too disappointed with how we played, I thought we played very well especially second half. Floreat sat in and countered with long balls which was effective. We need to learn how to deal with that better and when we do, we can be a real force in the league, I believe,” he explained. “To Qualify for the semi-finals is going to be very difficult but we go into the game with the same attitude as every other game and that is to win, if we qualify great but the main aim is to just win the match.” In the early game at the venue Gwelup Croatia and hosts Bayswater are out of contention and will look to end the competition well.
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES – QUARTER FINAL PREVIEW
We head into the knockout stage of the State League Night Series, with four quarter final games across the weekend. First up we have a real family affair at Hartfield Park, when Forrestfield United entertain Western Knights in the late game at the venue. (8.30pm) Forrestfield are coached by Richard Abrams, while his son Reece plays for the Knights, so it would have been an interesting week in the Abrams household.
The Knights were undefeated and topped Group D, and Reece (Abrams) said it’s been a good pre-season so far. “The boys have started well, to play against two good sides in Morley and Fremantle and score six goals has been really good,” he said. “We have had a couple of new signings, including myself, who have slotted in nicely and added some strength and depth to what’s already a very strong and experienced squad, and new coach Adam Kostrencic has some really good ideas and wants to play a good style of football.”
Reece said it will be strange playing against his dad’s team, but he will be doing all he can to get the win for the Knights. “It’s a little bit strange I’m not too sure how often it’s happened in the past but it definitely helps that I’m not still in the same house as him otherwise I’m sure I would have had a dodgy dinner or two this week,” he joked. “I think he’s done an excellent job so far with some of the signings that he’s got in from NPL clubs and U20s level, but as we have seen before it’s a lot more than just signing 11 good players and sticking them out on the park, they like to play fast paced and attacking style of football so it should be a great game especially being a knockout game.”
Forrestfield needed a late Alex McLean goal to secure the runners up spot in Group A, to advance as one of the two best second places, and Richard (Abrams) said they made to work hard for the result, but was happy to progress. “We were far from our best against Canning but were delighted with the result and the opening three games as a whole,” he explained. “We scored eight goals across seven different scorers and two clean sheets, which is very pleasing and a base to build on.”
Richard said the Knights have been impressive so far, and he is looking forward to taking them on, including son Reece. “You always support your kids and hope they play well that’s natural. For me a Forry win and a good game from Reece for Knights would be the perfect outcome,” he said. “Our side is very young, and tests like this will be a valuable lesson for us. I worked with Adam at Gwelup and know him well. Knights will be very tough to beat but it’s a cup game and we have nothing to lose in front of our big crowd, and whatever the result Adam and I will enjoy a drink together of some nature after the game.”
In the early game at the venue, Group B winners Quinns take on Group C winners Curtin University. Quinns beat Joondalup United in the final game to seal top spot, and Owen Goodliffe said it capped off a positive start to pre-season, and they are looking to go further in the competition. “We’ve had a really positive night series, and we’ve managed to gradually build week by week whilst trying new formations and players and this has been shown in our last two results where we’ve been trailing at half time, and we changed the shape and personnel, then managed to go on and win,” he explained. “Friday will be great, we’ve got an opportunity this early on in the season to compete for silverware, which I think is important following our top four cup loss last season. Curtin will be tricky as it’s sometimes harder to play against teams for the first time as we won’t know how they’ll shape up as well as their weaknesses so we can’t take them for granted. We just need to play our game and aim to keep our unbeaten record going.”
The Uni Boys won their opening two games to progress, and keeper Daniel Marques said despite the loss in the third game the new look side are getting better. “Yes, two wins during the group stages was a great start to our night series campaign. Our new signings this year are off to a good start and we as a team have worked hard for these results. However, a loss to Mandurah on the weekend means a big week of training in preparation for the quarter final on Friday night against Quinns,” the keeper said. “They have been a strong side throughout the group stages of this competition. Our game against them on Friday night will likely be a challenging one. However, we’ve proved we can meet the challenge of playing a division one side with a successful win against Rockingham in round two. So, we’ll prepare well this weekend and go into Friday night’s game motivated to get a result.”
The other two quarter finals are on Saturday evening at Wanneroo Reserve, and first up is a real blockbuster with Group E winners Olympic Kingsway taking on Group F winners Dianella White Eagles. Olympic scored late to draw against Joondalup City in the final game to seal top spot, and new signing Calum O’Connell said it wasn’t their best performance but they will look to bounce back on Saturday. “Yes, last week was a little wake up call for us, but I think we have really shown glimpses of what we are capable of achieving. It’s still preseason so some players are still finding their feet, but there is a trophy on offer which is motivating us to show our intentions for 2022,” the former Balcatta defender said. “I think it’s just going to be a good game for the neutral, they have big intentions like we do, so it brings a bit of excitement to the game. But nothing changes we prepare like we do for anyone else, it’s another 90 minutes for players to get fit and be ready for the season ahead.”
Dianella won all three games in the group stage, and scored 14 goals and conceded none in the process, and striker Kristian Despotovski said they are happy how pre-season is going, and he said Saturday will be their toughest test, but one they are all looking forward too. “The three games we have played so far have been extremely good, in terms of results and the way the team is playing together,” he explained. “Yes, of course it gives us confidence, we are confident in our defence and goalkeepers that they will keep the goals out and we are confident in our midfield and attackers that they will score goals, it’s a really good environment to be in.
“The competition is extremely competitive and gives us as well as everyone else a platform to build on for the upcoming season. We know Olympic Kingsway have been and have always been very competitive whoever they play, they have class players and they have shown that in some of their results. We know what they can do but ultimately, we will just try and play our own game which has been very successful for us, it’s still a working progress but one that is so far working. The game will be very competitive and I believe the team who takes their chances will come out winners.”
In the late game at the venue, Group A winners Murdoch University Melville meet Group F runners up Subiaco. Goran Stajic’s side earned a runners-up spot and bagged 11 goals along the way, while MUM went unbeaten in their group games and eased into the quarterfinals with a big win against Gosnells City, and new recruit Feisal Zaw said they are improving each week, but he will come up against his former coach (Goran Stajic) and he know he will have them well prepared for the game. “It's been a strong performance from us, and all three games were challenging in different ways but we seemed to be up for it the last three weeks and were able to string together a little run of wins,” the former Rockingham City striker said. “The boys have been putting in the hard work in training and it's coming to fruition. We're as confident as we can be going into a big game this week, but coming up against an old coach is always hard and he always assembles a competitive squad. We’ve got to be beating teams like Subiaco as the season comes around and what better way to test ourselves than playing them in a quarter final. If we play the way we've been playing, we'll be hard to beat.”
PERTH VENUES CONFIRMED AS FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP 2023 TRAINING SITES
FIFA announced on Wednesday the initial 13 training sites that have been approved to be used across the five Australian Host Cities at the 2023 Women’s World Cup. These venues will be available for training sessions by the participating nations throughout the tournament and were given approval following a detailed and thorough evaluation process. The training sites are spread around five Australian host cities have been selected, and all have a strong football footprint and history, and all sites will have 18-month lead in to prepare for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023
The two venues in Perth are the under-construction State Football Centre in Queens Park and Dorrien Gardens, West Perth the home of Perth Soccer Club. Perth SC President Jason Marocchi was delighted with the news and said on Twitter. “Perth Soccer Club is proud Dorrien Gardens has been selected as one of 13 training sites across Australia for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be one of the greatest sporting events to come to Western Australia and we are delighted that we will play a key role in what will be a wonderful festival of football. We look forward to working with FIFA, FIFAWWC organising committee, Football West, City of Vincent and the WA Government to ensure we deliver a world-class experience for all play.”
Outgoing Football West CEO James Curtis said its huge news for football in the state. “There is great excitement in Western Australia for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and we are delighted that we have two fantastic venues which will play host to national teams,” he said. “Our brand-new State Football Centre in Queens Park will be one of the best venues of its kind in Australia, if not the southern hemisphere. The teams who will be based there are guaranteed a state-of-the-art facility in keeping with one of the biggest tournaments in world sport. The State Football Centre will deliver a legacy for female football in WA for decades to come and it is fitting that it will be forever associated with the Women’s World Cup, the pinnacle of our game. Football West regularly uses Dorrien Gardens for our finals and this is another first-class facility which will be worthy of the Women’s World Cup.”
In the coming months, the next phase of the Training Site project will be completed, with an evaluation of other prospective venues across both Australia and New Zealand. Curtis added: “We want to acknowledge the other excellent venues that have not yet been selected as a Training Site. They could still be chosen or perhaps be used as a Team Base Camp, which will be confirmed later this year. All of them will be worthy of hosting visiting national teams.”
Football Australia’s Head of Women's World Cup Legacy Sarah Walsh said that this announcement begins to make the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 more tangible at the local level. “This is an important moment for our Host Cities and the start of a number of exciting announcements around the tournament as it starts to come to life for our local football communities,” she said. “Beyond the major stadia, we now see multiple facilities having an opportunity to be a part of this tournament of firsts, with many of these Training Sites having a strong football footprint and are deeply embedded in their local communities.
“This is a chance to increase their involvement and highlight the contribution to Australia’s football story. Their selection as Training Sites for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ highlights the importance of high-quality community facilities. Through our community facilities Legacy ’23 pillar, we will be working to ensure that many more community grounds are equipped with female friendly sporting facilities to accelerate the growth of women’s football post tournament.”
The current list of Training Sites across the country includes:
• Adelaide - Marden Sports Complex (Marden), South Australia Football Centre (Gepps Cross)
• Brisbane - Perry Park (Bowen Hills), Spencer Park (Newmarket)
• Melbourne - JL Murphy Reserve (Port Melbourne), Lakeside Stadium (Albert Park), Reggio Calabria Club (Parkville)
• Perth - Dorrien Gardens (West Perth), Western Australia State Football Centre (Queens Park)
• Sydney - ES Marks Athletics Field (Kensington), Leichhardt Oval (Leichardt), Valentine Sports Park (Glenwood), Western Sydney Wanderers Centre of Football (Rooty Hill)
GLORY SLIP UP AGAINST THE BULLS
Perth Glory has slipped to a narrow 0-1 loss to Macarthur FC in their midweek Isuzu Ute Men’s A-League game at the UTAS Stadium, Launceston. A slip from defender Aaron Calver handed Macarthur skipper Ulises Davila the only goal of the game, and despite the visitors having former Glory defender Aleksandar Susnjar sent off 14 minutes from time, they couldn’t find the equaliser.
The defeat, Glory’s first in their home away from home in Tasmania, was disappointing and Head coach Richard Garcia was left to rue the way his side reacted to conceding early. “Tonight, wasn’t our night, I thought we started pretty well and had a couple of chances to score in the first ten minutes and then there was a mistake for the goal and the boys didn’t respond in the right manner after that,” he explained. “That’s something we need to work on, and having the same behaviours no matter what the state of the game is. We need to have the same mentality whether we’re one up or one down. Then slowly, slowly they got themselves back in the game and really pushed hard, which was fantastic, but again, the basics and some of the decision-making at times was below par.”
Mitch Oxborrow, sent a stinging effort just wide for Garcia’s side early on, and it was the Bulls on the back foot, but they were given a helping hand on 14 minutes. There was like little danger when Apostolos Giannou played the ball into the penalty area, but Calver mis-controlled the ball into the path of Davila, and the Mexican finished clinically past Liam Reddy. The Glory custodian then produced a great save to deny Apostolos Giannou, before reacting well to punch clear Craig Noone corner which looked destined for the top corner of the net. Glory lifted and ended the half well and Bruno Fornaroli headed straight at Bulls keeper Filip Kurto after an inch perfect cross from Jack Clisby, before the Uruguayan then curled an effort just wide of the post.
Glory brought on skipper and striker Daniel Sturridge at half time, and the former Liverpool striker should have levelled on the hour. O’Neill and Fornaroli combined to find an unmarked Sturridge, and the small crowd (746) were waiting for the net to bulge, but he fired wide of the target. Sturridge’s night came to a painful end four minutes later, pulling up with groin injury, and he was replaced by Pacifique Niyongabire. Fornaroli tested Kurto again on 67 minutes, but the Polish shot stopper got down well to save his free kick.
The game took another twist on 76 minutes when Susnjar was shown a second yellow card for preventing Glory taking a quick free kick. Glory pressed for the equaliser, and the woodwork came to the rescue of the Bulls on 89 minutes, Niyongabire finding Daniel Stynes, whose shot hit the base of the upright and away to safety. Then three minutes later referee Kurt Ams pointed to the spot after Giordano Colli’s cross hit the arm of Lachlan Rose, but after being told by VAR to check the monitor the referee changed his decision, much to the displeasure of the Glory bench, and Macarthur held on to seal the win and move up to third, while Glory remain joint bottom.
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 2 Aaron CALVER, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 10 Andy KEOGH, 11 Nick FITZGERALD (13 Brandon O’NEILL 46'), 14 Jack CLISBY, 19 Callum TIMMINS (18 Daniel STYNES 85'), 21 Antonee BURKE-GILROY (15 Daniel STURRIDGE 46') (24 Pacifique NIYONGABIRE 65'), 22 Josh RAWLINS, 23 Mitch OXBORROW (26 Giordano COLLI 73'), 29 Darryl LACHMAN - Subs not used: RGK Cameron COOK, 5 Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS
Macarthur FC: GK Filip KURTO, 2 Jake MCGING (22 Liam ROSE 32'), 4 James MEREDITH (35 Al Hassan TOURE 65'), 10 Ulises DAVILA, 11 Tommy OAR, 15 Aleksandar SUSNJAR, 17 Craig NOONE (20 Tomislav USKOK 65'), 23 Adrian MARIAPPA, 24 Kokola M’MOMBWA (19 Michael RUHS 53'), 31 Lachlan ROSE, 99 Apostolos GIANNOU (8 Jordon MUTCH 75') - Subs not used: RGK Nicholas SUMAN, 14 Moudi NAJJAR - Red Cards: Susnjar 76’ - Referee: Kurt Ams
GLORY GO BACK TO BASICS IN LAUNCESTON
Perth Glory coach Richard Garcia says they need to go back to basics to combat difficult conditions against Macarthur in Wednesday’s A-League clash in Launceston. Swirling winds made life hard during Sunday’s 2-0 win over Brisbane Roar and similar conditions are expected.
Garcia described the performance as “indifferent” after the game, with two goals from Bruno Fornaroli getting Glory the points. But he said they would not make any dramatic changes to their style. “The patterns and everything we’ve been doing have been pretty good,” Garcia said. “It’s more about the basic stuff, our control, the simple stuff.”
“We keep talking about that to the group, our behaviours have got to remain the same regardless of what game it is, how tired we are, what stage of the game it is. The group said the wind was pretty strong and it swirls in there. They said the ball was moving all over the place. That’s something the guys have had a taste of now and can probably adapt to it the second time round.”
Glory will be looking for consecutive wins for the first time in the COVID-disrupted season. They have been buoyed by the lifting of Western Australian’s border restrictions that allow them to fly home after the third game in Launceston against Western United on Sunday. They are expecting at least six home games, back-to-back in midweek and on weekends.
HOMECOMING A BIG BOOST FOR GLORY
Perth Glory coach Richard Garcia hopes the lure of returning home can help start a revival for his A-League Men side. Glory haven't played at home since the season opener against Adelaide in November but are expected to head back west when the border to Western Australia reopens on March 3rd.
Glory have set up base in Launceston and Garcia's side got off to the perfect start in Tasmania with a comfortable 2-0 win over Brisbane Roar on Sunday. They host Macarthur on Wednesday before playing Western United on Sunday and Garcia wants the side to use the final two games in Tasmania as a springboard for their season.
"The border reopening has been a big boost for the group and everyone can see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Garcia. "Before we knew the border was reopening we had the mindset that we were going to come here and have it as a home away from home and make sure we treat the game as if we were at HBF Park. We would expect to win games there and we'd try to be on the front foot."
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK FOUR REVIEW
Sorrento took a giant step towards the Semi-Final of the NPLMWA Night Series after a come-from-behind 6-2 win against Armadale in the early game in Group A at Percy Doyle Reserve on Friday evening. The Reds made a flying start and were ahead after only five minutes, Gordon Perkins racing clear and finishing clinically past Gulls keeper Patrick Hughes. It got better for Armadale, and three minutes later they doubled their advantage, Angel Andres holding off his marker to finish low past Hughes. It could have been three, but Hughes stood tall to deny Perkins, before Andres’ shot was deflected just wide of the target. Trevor Morgan’s side lifted and pulled one back on 39 minutes, Joe Tweats firing home from a tight angle.
Then sixty seconds later the Gulls were level, Jordan Brown rising highest to head home. They still had time to take the lead into the break, and deep into stoppage time former Reds’ striker Chris Jackson fired home with the last kick of the half. It was a tight opening to the second half, but it was Sorrento who finished the better and Alex Morgan added a fourth on 79 minutes. Before late goals from substitute Zechariah Dabbs and another from Jackson, saw the Gulls run out comprehensive winners. The result knocking Armadale out of semi-finals contention, but leaves the Gulls well placed to advance.
The other two games in the group were at Dalmatinac Park on Saturday evening, and holders Inglewood United moved to the top of the group after a 4-1 win against the previously unbeaten Perth SC in the early game. United were ahead after only eight minutes, Harry Evans won the ball in midfield and found Egide Ngendkumana, who lobbed the Perth keeper from long-range. They had a perfect opportunity to double their lead just before half time, but Evans failed to convert from the spot. But six minutes into the second half they did find a second, a great through ball from Robert del Borello sent Manase Abandelwa clear and he finished well. Perth found a lifeline five minutes later, when a corner was turned into his own net by Chad Nilson.
But Andres Oliveira’s side regained their two-goal advantage sixty seconds later, Alex Ishida-Livings turning home Evans’ corner. They wrapped up the game two minutes from time when Ngendkumana squared the ball to Ibere Kasukulu who found the net. The win was marred somewhat late when United had two players sent off, with Dhuors Chol and Hamza Belhassan both receiving second yellow cards. “Great team performance against a very sharp Perth team, we were well organised from start to finish and clinical on the break,” Evans said. “What we have been working so hard on training in being organised defensively and offensively really showed. We look forward to the next game and keep building on a great night series so far with everyone playing their part.”
In the late game at the venue Balcatta moved into semi-final contention after a 5-0 win against hosts Cockburn City. Jon Corness opened the scoring from a perfect Anthony Topini cross, and Vlad Naumovski headed a second to make it 2-0 at the break. Michael Johnson’s side went on with it after the break with further goals from Michael Scafetta, Coby Sutton and Giordano Sportiello, and moved them joint second with Sorrento and Perth SC, and it sets up a huge game against leaders Inglewood United next week for a spot in the Semi-Finals. “We were confident we would get a result but to win as well as we did was pleasing,” Johnson said. “We had created chances in the previous games but did not convert so it was good see the goals fly in this week.”
In Group B Stirling Macedonia won for the fourth time and sealed a semi-final spot after a 3-0 win against Gwelup Croatia at Percy Doyle Reserve on Friday evening. Ian Ferguson’s side were ahead on 26 minutes, when Alex Tanevski capitalised on a defensive error to fire past Cyril Sharrock. It was 2-0 eight minutes later, with former ECU Joondalup defender Luke Palmateer volleying home from the edge of the box. The win was sealed in the shadows of half time, when Tanevski cut in from the left and crossed to the back post for Shay Donovan to add a third.
“For everyone at Stirling this game was important to continue our momentum. We had a number of players out through suspension and injury, so the depth of the squad was called into question. The response the team gave was that everyone is willing to fight to gain a spot in our starting 11,” Palmateer explained. “We continue our undefeated run in the night series ahead of a tough game against ECU Joondalup, who we know will provide us with another challenge. Although its early, it’s encouraging to see how well we can perform even when missing a number of key players to our side.”
Floreat Athena are in pole position for a semi-final spot after a 3-1 win against ECU Joondalup at Frank Drago Reserve on Saturday evening. Vas Vujacic’s side were ahead on 21 minutes, with new striker Robert Petkov on target. But Joondalup were level just after the half hour mark, with skipper Ellis Healing scoring. But Floreat regained the lead in the final minute of the first half, with Sean McManus racing clear to score low past Joe Pollard. Floreat sealed the win on the hour, with Ethan Mom adding a third.
In the late game Bayswater City have won for the first time in the competition, and dented Perth Glory’s semi-final chances after a 1-0 win. The only goal of the game came ten minutes from time, Frazer Dunlop’s cross from the left was turned home by former Glory striker Ndumba Makeche. It sets up a huge final round of fixtures, with three teams fighting it out for the final spot in the group. “It was a tough game which you expect when you play the glory lads,” Bayswater skipper Steven Hesketh said. “I thought we managed the game well overall, and created good opportunities up top. It was another 90 minutes in the legs and a good step forward to what we’re working towards for the season.”
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES – WEEK THREE REVIEW
The State League Night Series quarter final spots have been decided after another entertaining weekend of football, and the final spot went down to the wire on Sunday with Forrestfield United scoring late to take the last spot as one of the best runners up. It all started on Friday evening in Group B and Quinns topped the table after beating Joondalup United 2-1 in the late game at Wanneroo Reserve. Both sides needed a win to secure top spot, and United found the opener on the half hour, with Brad McDonald on target. But Glen Grostate’s side hit back after the break, Ben Hinshelwood equalising on 56 minutes, before Gareth Hamilton secured the win seven minutes later. “Again, like last week being 1-0 at half time the second half effort from the boys was really good against a strong Joondalup side,” Adam Buckingham explained. “It wasn’t a pretty game but we just managed to grind out a result.”
In the early game at the venue Kingsley Westside won for the first time in the group, beating hosts Wanneroo City 4-2. It was Kingsley who opened the scoring, Darren O’Riordan scoring on 26 minutes, but Jake Davies levelled moments later. After half time a quick-fire double from Luke Doyle and Adam O’Neill gave Kingsley back the lead, but again Davies pulled another one back for the hosts. But Steven Dimitrovich’s side sealed the win with Cameron Bishop added a fourth late. “It was a game of two halves, and Wanneroo could’ve and probably should’ve been three goals up at half time, but a few choice words from myself and a couple changes at halftime had its desired affect and we ran out 4-2 winners in the end,” Dimitrovich explained. “Overall, satisfied with the result, but I know we can do better in certain aspects of the game.”
Also, on Friday at Frank Drago Reserve, Dianella White Eagles secured top spot in Group F after a 4-0 win against UWA Nedlands. Bobby Despotovski’s side opened the scoring on the half hour, a neat give and go between Nikola Talimdzioski and Kristian Despotovski, saw the latter fire home. They doubled their lead on 51 minutes, Kieron Cowell sent Daniel Mackenzie down the right and his cross was headed home powerfully by Talimdzioski. It was 3-0 just after the hour mark, a ball over the top caused confusion in the UWA defence and Luke Salmon pounced on the loose ball to roll it into an empty net. They sealed victory on 77 minutes, Bojan Ninkovic’s searching ball found Salmon, who lobbed the oncoming keeper for his second and to seal a comprehensive win for the Eagles.
“Honestly not our best game in terms of football but the scoreline is a testament to the boys’ perseverance and effort throughout the game as even when we were on the back foot we knew how to cope and eventually pull out a result,” Dianella skipper Saša Njegic explained. “Hopefully we can build on the group stage performances and try our best to win the trophy.” In the other game at the venue Carramar Shamrock Rovers edged out Ashfield 1-0. The only goal of the game came just after half time, Jack Bardsley’s free kick was turned home by Ger Fitzgerald. “I thought it was a pretty scrappy game,” Rovers’ Ross Jarman said. “But we showed some great moments which reflected in the scoreline.”
On Saturday we headed to Hay Park in Bunbury for the Group C games, and leaders Curtin University suffered their first defeat of the competition going down 3-0 to Mandurah City. Joey O’Brien gave the Dolphins the lead early, and he doubled their advantage just before the break. They sealed the win after half time with Hamish Van Dieken adding a third, but it was too little too late for John Baird’s team who bow out of the competition. “Really good performance, a solid performance,” Baird said. “I thought we controlled most the game and never felt in and danger, more minutes for the boys on the pitch which is also good at this stage.” Despite the loss Curtin go through to the knock out stage as group winners.
In the late game at the venue Rockingham City and hosts South West Phoenix fought out a seven-goal thriller, with Rockingham running out 4-3 winners. Rockingham were ahead on 16 minutes with Mitch Firth on target, but the Phoenix levelled ten minutes later with Ollie McGee converting from the spot. A brace from Shaun Mukwevho put Rockingham in control at the break, but Nathan Hartmann reduced the margin for the hosts on the hour. McGee added another penalty to level things up on 70 minutes, before Ryan Kennedy missed a penalty for City eight minutes later. It looked like the points would be shared, but deep into stoppage time Harry Bolan won it for Rockingham. “Really happy with the first half performance, we moved the ball really well and played some excellent football, unfortunately we took our foot off the pedal in the second and got punished,” City coach Lee Taylor explained. “But overall, we can take lots of positives from the game and it was great to pick up the win at the end.”
Also, on Saturday in Group D at Hartfield Park, Fremantle City missed out on a quarter final place on goal difference despite a come from behind 4-2 win against Morley Windmills. It was Morley who led 2-0 on the hour mark with Alex Ekeze bagging a brace, but the sending off of Morley’s Marko Savic five minutes later changed the game. Fremantle reduced the margin on 77 minutes, Matthew Sparrow crossing to Billy Orr to loop a header home, and they were level three minutes later with Hamza Hina scoring. The former Inglewood United winger added two more late to complete his hat-trick, but results elsewhere meant Fremantle missed out on a quarter final spot. “We knew we had to win the game by some margin to basically qualify to the quarter finals, but we didn’t get the breakthrough we needed in the first half and really should have been two up by half time,” Sparrow explained. “All of a sudden we found ourselves chasing the game as we conceded two very soft goals. The sending off for Morley certainly changed the game as after that it was one way traffic from then on.” The game between Western Knights and Swan United didn’t go ahead, with Swan forfeiting after a number of their players contracting covid, the 3-0 forfeit win sees the Knights top the group and progress into the quarter-final.
Finally on Saturday at a Wanneroo Reserve in Group E, Olympic Kingsway finished top of the table, but need a late goal to secure it after a 3-3 draw against Joondalup City in the early game. City hit the front early, Ewan Fawcett crossing to Jack Reilly who finished well. But Ethan Quartermaine levelled for Olympic, and Ciaran Bryne gave David Tough’s side the lead on the half hour. Reilly levelled for City on the stroke of half time, young Seb Oranje robbing the Olympic defender and rounding the keeper, but was brought down, and Reilly convert from the spot. Reilly completed his hat-trick, firing home another penalty after Kealey Farrant had sent him clear, only to brought down by the keeper. It looked like they would hold on for the win, but deep into stoppage time former Balcatta skipper Calum O’Connell scored the equaliser for Olympic. “We were well below the standards we’ve set this season, and to be honest we were lucky to get a draw out of the game and to qualify for the quarter finals,” Olympic coach David Tough said. “We’ll review the game and work hard this week in training, and look forward to the quarter final and a much-improved performance.”
Joondalup coach Brad Hayward was delighted the way his side performed. “I’m extremely proud of the boys, we showed how disciplined and structured we can be, and that we have no fear heading into the season. We have worked hard on our game play and fitness in recent weeks and it’s great to see such a professional performance from my side against a Kingsway team full of talent,” he said. “We had to shuffle the side just before kick-off, but young Brett Corey played well on his debut for us, and new signing Kealey Farrant also had a big impact on the game for us. At the end of the day while I’m really happy with the performance the result was disappointing, we really should have won this one and we will have to work on our ability to kill off a game having conceded the equaliser deep in extra time.” In the late game at the venue, Subiaco secured one of the two best runners up spot after a 3-0 win against Balga. A brace from Adrian Manno and another to Nathan Bryde saw Goran Stajic’s side qualify for the knockout stage. “It was a tough game, they were very quick on the counter with the pace of their players, but I thought we dealt with it quite well,” Elliot Ireland said. “We should have scored more with the opportunities we had but overall, it was a professional performance from the lads.”
So on to Sunday and the final games in Group A at Hartfield Park. Murdoch University Melville finished top of table after a 5-0 win against Gosnells City. The game was over by half time after a double from Ben Pellizzari, and others to Feisal Zaw and Taj Bingwa had MUM 4-0 up. The icing was put on the cake when Pellizzari completed his hat-trick after the break, but there was a dampener on the win with keeper Joe Gan sent off after handling the ball outside his box. “This fixture means a lot to many of the MUMFC players and our attitude and work rate was excellent,” Declan Tanna said. “Most importantly we played some good football, especially in the opening period to put the game away early, we couldn't be happier.”
It meant Forrestfield United needed a win against Canning City to snatch a quarter final spot as one of the best two runners up, and it looked like they wouldn’t make it with Canning defending gallantly. But five minutes from time Alex McLean found the winner, much to the delight of another big home crowd, the win seeing them pip Fremantle on goal difference. “Delighted with the three points against a gutsy Canning side,” Forrestfield coach Richard Abrams said. “They were very hard to break down and determined to make a game of it despite nothing to play for which is credit to them, so it is a good lesson for our young squad in many ways.”
FORNAROLI AT THE DOUBLE FOR GLORY
Perth Glory began their home away from home games at Launceston’s UTAS Stadium, with a 2-0 win against Brisbane Roar on a windy Sunday afternoon in Tasmania. Bruno Fornaroli gave Richard Garcia’s side the lead early from the spot, before the Uruguayan added a second midway through the second half to seal the points, and move Glory off the bottom of the Isuzu Ute Men’s A-League ladder on goal difference, but they do have three games in hand on the teams above them. Garcia was pleased with the win, but said there is room for improvement ahead of Wednesday’s game against Macarthur FC at the same venue.
“It was a bit of an indifferent performance,” he told the Glory website. “We started very well, then went off the boil a little bit, but then as the game went on and the subs came on, we started to get a hold of it again, which was great. I thought the subs that came off the bench did a fantastic job in having an impact on the match. It’s a sign of a decent team that they actually win when they’re not at their best. I saw glimpses of some very good stuff and I never really felt like the guys were out of control, but just the simple basics were not at their best today.
“That probably had a little bit to do with the new surface, the new environment and the wind swirling and things like that, but at the same time, they know they need to improve that area of their game. It’s something you can’t pay too much attention to at the moment, the league table. We’ve got so many games coming up in a row and it’s been a very even league this year. It’s really about making sure that we keep chipping away at it, keep making sure our performances improve week by week and keep getting the results we want. We’ve just got to be fully focused on our performances and progressing as a team.”
Glory made two changes to the side that drew against Central Coast Mariners last time out, with keeper Liam Reddy returning from his long-term lay off due to shoulder surgery to replace Cameron Cook, while last week’s scorer Daniel Stynes came in for youngster Giordano Colli. Glory opened brightly in front of a sparse crowd, and they were rewarded with the lead on eight minutes. Pacifique Niyongabire won the ball in the box and was brought down by former Glory midfielder Henry Hore and referee Daniel Elder had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Fornaroli stepped up and drilled the resulting penalty down the middle of the goal, giving Jordan Holmes no chance and giving Glory the perfect start.
But on 14 minutes, Glory was dealt a blow with Aaron Calver limping off with a back injury, and he was replaced by teenage Josh Rawlins. After a poor start to the game, the Roar lifted and went close to the equaliser on the half hour, Hore’s cross found Matti Steinmann, but the German midfielder volleyed wide of the target. It was now Brisbane asking questions and Reddy produced a point blank save to deny Nicholas Olsen five minutes later, and Lachman was alert to head away the rebound. It was backs to the wall for Glory, as the Roar pressed late in the half, but Lachman was a rock at the back. The best opportunity fell to Olsen late, but he failed to keep his shot down, and at the break the Glory held a narrow 1-0 lead.
Garcia brought on Callum Timmons to replace Stynes at the break, but it was the Roar who had lifted and Corey Brown’s cross was inches away from the diving substitute Cyrus Dehmie early. Nick Fitzgerald then went close for the Glory, cutting in from the left his goal bound shot deflected off Jack Hingert, sending the ball inches wide of the far post. Glory should have doubled their lead on the hour, Niyongabire and Fornaroli combined, the latter laying the ball back to the unmarked Brandon O’Neill, but the skipper sent his shot inches wide.
Roar went to the bench with a triple substitution, and one of them Luke Ivanovic made an immediate impact, the former Sydney FC angled shot was saved low by Reddy. Timmins then stung the palms of Holmes, before Garcia brought on Andy Keogh, Daniel Sturridge and Colli, and his side began to get on top and it was no surprise on 73 minutes when they doubled their advantage. Roar were caught in possession playing out from the back and Keogh found Colli on the left of the penalty area, and the former Bayswater City youngster played the ball onto Fornaroli whose shot on the turn flew into the top corner of the net, which sealed a vital win.
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 2 Aaron CALVER (22 Josh RAWLINS 14'), 8 Kosuke OTA, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 11 Nick FITZGERALD (26 Giordano COLLI 71'), 13 Brandon O’NEILL, (10 Andy KEOGH 62'), 18 Daniel STYNES (19 Callum TIMMINS 46'), 21 Antonee BURKE-GILROY, 23 Mitch OXBORROW, 24 Pacifique NIYONGABIRE (15 Daniel STURRIDGE 71'), 29 Darryl LACHMAN - Subs not used: RGK Cameron COOK, 14 Jack CLISBY
Brisbane Roar: GK Jordan HOLMES, 2 Scott NEVILLE, 3 Corey BROWN, 7 Rahmat AKBARI, 8 Matti STEINMANN (4 Anton MILINARIC 61'), 13 Henry HORE (11 Jez LOFTHOUSE 81'), 19 Jack HINGERT (9 Luke IVANOVIC 61'), 21 Nicholas OLSEN (35 Louis ZABALA 61'), 23 Juan LESCANO (29 Cyrus DEHMIE 40'), 26 Jay O’SHEA, 27 Kai TREWIN - Subs not used: RGK Macklin FREKE, 15 Jesse DALEY - Referee: Daniel Elder
GLORY STUN VICTORY TO KEEP FINALS HOPES ALIVE
Perth Glory have kept their Liberty Women’s A-League top four finals hopes alive after a hard fought 2-0 win against fourth placed Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Saturday afternoon. Both goals came in the second half, first an own goal by Catherine Zimmerman, before Leena Khamis headed home the sealer. Head Coach Alex Epakis was delighted with the result and the performance of his side.
“It’s a massive win,” he said. “The playing group and I just had a great chat in the changing room and we just looked around and knew that that was a special performance, and that’s what we really wanted today. As I said in midweek, we’re not chasing top four, we’re just chasing performances and we know that if our performances are good enough over the next few weeks, the top four will take care of itself.
“It was a controlled game from minute one to minute 90, we stuck to the game plan, we believed in the game plan and we executed the game plan, and I’m absolutely thrilled. All week I was driving home the message of making sure that when the moments come, we take advantage of them and today we capitalised upon those moments and managed their attacking moments as well. I’m happy that we found that way to make sure that we didn’t let chances slip by and then look back at the end of the game and regret it.”
Epakis made three changes to the starting line-up, with Claudia Mihocic coming in for her starting debut, while Susan Phonsongkham returned from suspension, and there was a late change in goal with Courtney Newbon replacing Morgan Aquino, who picked up an injury in the warm up. Clear-cut chances were few and far between in the first half, with both sets of defenders on top. Zimmerman saw a long-range effort go over the top for the hosts, while Glory’s best opportunity came from Cyera Hintzen’s cross, which just eluded Sofia Sakalis in the penalty area.
It was Victory who began the second half on the front foot, but Glory successfully kept them at bay and following the introduction of experienced duo Khamis and Lisa De Vanna from the bench, they seized control of the game and Deborah-Anne de la Harpe’s corner was cleared off the line by the alert Tiffany Eliadis, before two quickfire goals gave them the upper hand. De la Harpe’s corner was fired goalwards by Mie Leth Jans, and it took a deflection off the unfortunate Zimmerman and into the net.
It got better for Glory four minutes later, when they doubled their advantage. Second half substitute Aideen Keane made space down the right, her cross was flicked on by the Hintzen and Khamis was perfectly placed to head her first Glory goal. The home side were thankful for Casey Dumont for keeping the scoreline down, the Victory custodian preventing Khamis from making it 3-0 moments later. The win keeps Glory’s Finals hopes alive heading into next weekend’s clash with league leaders Sydney FC.
Melbourne Victory: GK Casey DUMONT, 2 Tiffany ELIADIS, 5 Courtney NEVIN, 7 Kyra COONEY-CROSS, 8 Alana MURPHY (30 Melindaj BARBIERI 31'), 9 Catherine ZIMMERMAN, 10 Alexnadra CHIDIAC (4 Emma ROBERS 78'), 13 Polly DORAN, 17 Maja MARKOVSKI (11 Harriet WITHERS 58'), 19 Lia PRIVITELLI (16 Paige ZOIS 78'), 25 Brooke HENDRIX - Subs not used: RGK Mel MAIZELS
Perth Glory: GK Courtney NEWBON, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 5 Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE, 8 Hana LOWRY, 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM (21 Aideen KEANE 68'), 12 Sofia SAKALIS (11 Lisa DE VANNA 60'), 13 Sarah CAIN (29 Leena KHAMIS 68'), 15 Cyera HINTZEN (23 Alana JANCEVSKI 84'), 22 Claudia MIHOCIC, 26 Mie LETH JANS - Subs not used: RGK Morgan AQUINO - Referee: Rebecca Mackie
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK FOUR PREVIEW
With two rounds remaining in the NPLMWA Night Series, the semi-final spots could be sorted this weekend. In Group A all the teams can still mathematically make the knockout stage, but in Group B it’s down to four, with Gwelup Croatia and Bayswater City unable to progress after three defeats. In week four, Group A leaders Perth SC could wrap up a spot in the next phase with a win against Inglewood United in the early game at Dalmatinac Park on Saturday evening. (5.00pm) Both sides are on unbeaten so for, with United sitting two points begin the Azzurri and skipper Alex Dunn knows a win is a must to keep their hands on the trophy.
“I thought we played well against Cockburn last week, we were able to implement a lot of things we had been working on in training, it would have been nice to get the win, but we are looking at improving every game,” the skipper explained. “As always it will be another tough game against Perth and always an exciting game which everyone is looking forward to. We are looking for the win as usual, and stay in contention for night series, however, we are keen to keep Improving every week to ensure we hit the ground running in the opening league game of the season.”
In the late game at the venue Cockburn City take on Balcatta. (6.30pm) The Cockerels earned their first point of the competition last week, while Balcatta fought back to draw with Sorrento, so a win is a must for both teams in this one. Balcatta coach Michael Johnson said he was pleased with his side’s performance, and is looking for more of the same on Saturday. “I thought we played well throughout the 90 minutes. Sorrento always present a difficult proposition but I was very pleased the way lads coped with their threats. Our second half was very good and thought we enough play to take all the points but it wasn’t to be,” he said. “Cockburn are going to be a hard team to beat on their patch, but we are confident we can go there and get a result. Mirko has his team starting to gel so we will have to be at our best to get the three points and keep our competition alive.”
The final game of group is on Friday evening at Percy Doyle Reserve as Sorrento host Armadale in the early game. (6.30pm) The Gulls are four points ahead of the Reds, who are still searching for the first win, but they are still on the mix so a win is vital in this one. Sorrento midfielder Dean Cummings said the performance against Balcatta last week was below par, and they need to improve on Friday to close the gap on Perth. “We were disappointed with the performance against Balcatta and probably didn’t deserve the three points in the end,” the Scottish midfielder said. “But we know we are good enough to bounce back so we look forward to the Armadale game this Friday and we can hopefully get back to winning ways and push for a place in the semi-finals.”
In Group B, Stirling Macedonia could wrap a semi-final spot up with a win against Gwelup Croatia in the late game at Percy Doyle Reserve on Friday. (8.30pm) Ian Ferguson’s side moved three points clear with a win against Perth Glory last week, while Gwelup were edged out by ECU Joondalup. Michael Prentice’s side have lost all three games by the odd goal, and could have won all three, but skipper Ciarán Salinger said despite being out of semi-final contention, Friday’s game is important as they build up to their season opener against Perth RedStar. “I thought we were very unfortunate not to get a result on Friday night. What the boys have shown in the last three games is really promising coming into the season and that’s credit to Mitch and his coaching staff for implementing a style of play that is enjoyable to play and hard for opposing teams to break down,” the skipper explained.
“Prior to Friday’s game against ECU we hadn’t conceded from open play and we felt hard done by for one of ECU’s goals, but that’s football. As a new squad, I feel as though we are playing some of the best football, I’ve seen Gwelup play and it's enjoyable to be a part of. I don’t think it’s a shock to anyone that Stirling have started the way they have. The have a decent starting 11 and are well coached. Our focus is very much so on developing a system and preparing for the season ahead. I’m sure if Friday night is anything to go by our Round One fixture away to Perth RedStar will be an entertaining one.’
On Saturday we head to Frank Drago Reserve, and in the early game Bayswater City host Perth Glory. (5.00pm) Glory lost for the first-time last week, after a number of players headed east to join the A-League squad, and they will be looking to bounce back this week. City on the other hand, are out of semi-final contention after three defeats, but like Gwelup they will be looking to end he tournament strong, especially in front of their home supporters. City’s Gordon Smith said they have to start games better. “I thought we started slow again and conceded earlier, it’s something we as a team have addressed and will be looking to start with a lot more intensity,” he said.
“As the game went on, we improved and, on another day, would’ve got something from the game as we did create a few chances. We are still a new team will a lot of new players and there have been glimpses of some great football and the more we play together the stronger we will be moving forward. We know Glory will be a tough game they have some talented players and Chris (Coyne) will have them well drilled. We may not be able to progress but we as a squad have a lot to play for, positions up for grabs and also a chance to work on things Gareth (Naven) and John (Walmsley) have been doing with us at training.”
In the late game at the venue, it’s a must win for both Floreat Athena and ECU Joondalup when they meet. (7.00pm) Both sides are level on six points, along with Glory, and a win would see one of them take pole position in the semi-final race going into the final round. Both won tight games late week, Floreat edged out Bayswater, while Joondalup did the same to Gwelup. Jacks’ midfielder Tom Hough said the win against Gwelup was well deserved, and sets up a huge clash against Floreat. “I thought it was a good win, and I we controlled play and took our chances in the second half to win a tight game,” he said. “It’s always a tough game against Floreat they have quality players and are usually set up well. It’s a must win game for us to qualify for the semi-final, but I believe we are up for the challenge on Saturday.”
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES – WEEK THREE PREVIEW
We head into round three of the State League Night Series, and in Group A leaders Murdoch University Melville will look to continue their winning start to the competition, and all but seal a quarter final spot, when they take on Gosnells City in the late game at Hartfield Park on Sunday. (7.00pm) In the early game at the venue Forrestfield United will look to build on their first win of the competition when they host Canning City. (5.00pm) Canning on the other hand will be searching for their first point in the group, but new coach Jude Peppin said he has been pleased with the new look squad so far, and they are looking to the challenge of taking on Forrestfield. “Yes, we have a new squad of players with a lot of potential and the experience from the first two games has been very valuable,” he said. “Forrestfield are a quality team and we will look to improve our performance in this game, and it will also be a good opportunity for the team to continue to work on our playing style.”
In Group B at Wanneroo Reserve on Friday evening, Wanneroo City host Kingsley Westside in the early game, (6.30pm) while in the late game Joondalup United meet Quinns in a repeat of last season’s Division One Top Four Cup Final. United coach Nick Jennings said last week was a missed opportunity, but they need to step up this week against a good Quinns side. “It wasn’t the greatest performance last week, but we still did enough to win the game,” he said. “I was pleased with the clean sheet and the minutes we got into the boys, but we know our destiny to progress in the competition remains in our hands. Friday will be another tight game with two very evenly matched teams and it is winner takes all, it’s going to be a great game and hopefully my boys step up and produce the goods.”
We head to Bunbury on Saturday evening for the Group C games, and first up leaders Curtin University will look for a third win when they take on Mandurah City in the early game at Hay Park, (5.00pm) while in the late game at the venue South West Phoenix host Rockingham City. Both sides are still looking for their first wins in the group, and Rockingham Coach Lee Taylor said he is looking for an improved performance. “The Curtin game result was very disappointing, as we had a lot of possession and we were wasteful in front of goal. In both Night Series games we've had great chances to win the games and haven’t taken them, and I think our keeper has only had to make one save in each of the games,” he said.
“You have to give credit to Curtin though, they worked hard defensively and got the result. We have had a large turnover of players this season, and we haven't been in a position to get all our new signings onto the pitch together yet so it is taking a little longer for us to gel. SWP will be a tough game, I know Nick (Carter) well and he will have them pumped to put in a big performance so we will need to be at the top of our game and make sure we are clinical with the chances we make to win the game.”
Western Knights top Group D after back-to-back wins, and they will be looking to make it a hat trick when they take on Swan United in the late game at Hartfield Park on Saturday evening. (7.00pm) Swan, who had a number of players go down with COVID last week, are still searching for their first points in the competition, and Coach Dan Evans knows they will have to be at their best to do it on Saturday. “We didn’t start well against Morley and gifted them an early goal, but we managed to get back into the contest before half time. In the second half we were outplayed for much of it and I know myself and the group are disappointed with our performance,” Evans explained.
“Morley are a good side but at this point of the season we’re focusing on our own processes and we gifted them three goals defensively and didn’t move the ball how we wanted either. Obviously the positive Covid cases in the group isn’t good news, fortunately those effected seem to be recovering well but with them unavailable and a few more in isolation to go with a couple of injuries we are at bare bones. Knights will be strong, no doubt. I’ve watched them twice and they have experienced players that can get the job done and real fire power going forward. For us, with a disrupted preparation we’re hoping to get what we can from the game and hopefully the players that come in take their chance and put in strong performances.” In the early game at the venue Fremantle City take on Morley Windmills. (5.00pm).
In group E, leaders Olympic Kingsway meet Joondalup City, in the early game at Wanneroo Reserve on Saturday evening. David Tough’s side are unbeaten so far, with strong performances, but they face a Joondalup side who bounced back from a big first up defeat to draw with Balga last week. In the late game at the venue Subiaco will look to regroup after their loss last week against Olympic, when they take on Balga. Gerhard Janssen’s side won their first point last week and the coach said he has been pleased with the progress of his side. “Coming back is always a good sign for a young team, and the spirit of the team is good. Easy mistakes happen at this stage of preseason because not all players are ready for the season,” he explained. “Subiaco will be a different test. They showed against Joondalup, winning 7:0, how advanced they are already, so it will be a good test and we are ready, and a win can still push us to second place in the group.”
Finally in Group F we head to Frank Drago Reserve on Friday evening, and in the early game group leaders Dianella White Eagles take on UWA Nedlands (6.30pm) The Eagles are in pole position to move through after back-to-back wins, while UWA have drawn both of their games. UWA skipper Luke Randazzo said they will need to start better this week against Dianella. “It was a disappointing outcome for us to concede two goals early and have to fight back. But I felt like we created a lot of opportunities but couldn’t finish them off. We are a new team in a lot of ways so there is an adjustment period we are going through to gel together, hopefully this yields some stronger performances soon,” the skipper explained. “We know it will be a tough game against a good Dianella side, whose goal scoring fire power and clean sheets to date show. We will definitely have our work cut out but enter the game focussed on producing a strong performance as a team.” In the late game in the group Carramar Shamrock Rovers meet Ashfield. (8.30pm)
FORMER GLORY DEFENDER BACK IN THE A-LEAGUE
Former Perth Glory defender Tomislav Mrcela is back in the A-League after signing for Western Sydney Wanderers, as an injury-replacement for skipper Rhys Williams until the end of the season. Perth-born Williams, who played 16 games in 2016-17 for Glory, is recovering from a hamstring tendon tear, and Mrcela joins the Wanderers after a recent spell in the Indian Super League with SC East Bengal, and the experienced defender has had an extensive career overseas which has seen him play in the top-flight of the Croatian league with Hrvatski Dragovoljac and Lokomotiva Zagreb, as well as Jeonnam Dragons in the K-League.
Mrcela returned to Australia in 2018 where he played for Perth Glory for two seasons, contributing heavily to the team’s success and winning the Premiers Plate in 2019. The big defender watched his new side beat Melbourne Victory on Wednesday evening, and said he was excited to get started for the Mark Rudan’s side. “I’m really excited to finally be here, it’s a privilege to be part of a big club like this and I can’t wait to get started,” Mrcela said. “It’s been almost more than two years since I’ve been back and I’ve been in India a little bit, so it’s nice to be back in the A-League and back in a good level at a good club.
“I’ve played a few games at CommBank Stadium and you can really feel it as an opponent, that there is a pressure to play for the Western Sydney Wanderers but it is also a privilege. It’s nice to be part of this club and play with those passionate fans behind you, hopefully they can push us to some success this season. I hope I can bring experience and leadership, and I think we have a really good team with good characters and good leaders inside it.”
EPAKIS RE-SIGNS AIMING FOR GLORY
After a disappointing first season as Head Coach of the Perth Glory Women’s side, Alex Epakis has shown everyone what a good coach he is, and with his side in the mix for a top four finish in the Liberty Women’s A-League, the club have acted quickly to re-sign the 30-year-old to another on-year contract, which will see his tenure last until the 2022-23 season. Epakis has overseen a successful campaign in which his side has proved themselves as serious Final’s contenders despite being based in Sydney since the turn of the year and having to play all bar one of their fixtures away from home.
Having recorded five wins and three draws from 11 games, Glory currently sits just three points outside the top four, with three regular-season games left to play. Epakis has handed first-team opportunities to young players, many of whom have developed into consistent performers at this level. The former Sydney University Head Coach is thrilled to have pledged his future to the club and is confident that his squad will continue to evolve and improve throughout the remainder of this season and onwards into 2022-23.
“I am really excited to extend my stay with Perth Glory,” he told the Glory website. “I am really passionate about the club and am wholeheartedly invested in the entire playing group and the support staff. The opportunity to continue to work alongside a fantastic group of committed players and people is something that really drives me on a daily basis and I am determined to help the group achieve success.
“As a team, we have faced and overcome some difficult moments, but we are focused on a clear vision. I am well supported by an excellent staff and together we are committed to ensuring that the team finishes this current season as strongly as possible and to continuing our growth and success into next season. Finally, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to Glory Owner and Chairman Tony Sage, CEO Tony Pignata and Football Operations Manager Terry McFlynn, for their ongoing support. I appreciate that they have trust in my work and vision and I sincerely thank them for the opportunity to represent the club.”
Pignata, meanwhile, was quick to acknowledge the impact Epakis has had upon the club and believes that he has the potential to help re-establish Glory among the Liberty A-League’s most consistently successful clubs. “Alex has done an excellent job this year under the most trying of circumstances,” he said. “He has successfully reshaped the squad and we have certainly come a long way since last year. It has been incredibly tough for the players and staff to spend so long on the road, but Alex has kept them motivated and focused and that has been reflected by some of the hugely-impressive performances they have produced this year. We are confident that he has the ability to use the positives from this season as a springboard for further success in 2022-23.”
GLORY HEAD TO TASMANIA AFTER WA BORDER CONFUSIONS
With the AFLW games returning to WA, the Perth Glory faithful were sure they would be able to see their team again, sooner rather than later, how wrong they were. In a real kick in the teeth for the club and their loyal band of supporters, Glory announced on Sunday that will not be happening in the near future and they will play three men’s games and one Women’s A-League game in Tasmania later this month. The four matches, two of which will be played as part of a double-header, will take place on Sunday 20 February, Wednesday 23 February and Sunday 27 February at UTAS Stadium in Launceston, with opponents and kick-off times to be confirmed shortly.
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein is delighted to be welcoming Glory to the State. “These four matches present a fantastic opportunity for fans around Tasmania to show up and enjoy top flight football.” he said at the announcement. “Our government is committed to delivering more elite sporting content for Tasmanians to enjoy – and importantly, provide pathways for local sports men, women and children. We look forward to working closely with Perth Glory and hope to see even more A-League content returning to Tasmania in the future.”
Glory CEO Tony Pignata, meanwhile, was quick to praise the Tasmanian State Government for being so proactive in enabling the fixtures to take place. “We’re very excited to be bringing both our Isuzu Ute A-League and Liberty A-League teams to Tasmania for what promises to be a superb week of football,” he said. “On behalf of the club, I would like to thank the Tasmanian State Government for their outstanding level of support and for being so welcoming. We know there is a passionate local football community in Tasmania and we are really looking forward to engaging with them during our time in the State.” The club have said they will return to WA to complete a series of home games in early March, but we will believe it when we see it.
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES GROUP A - WEEK THREE REVIEW
It’s as you were in Group A of the NPLMWA Night series with three draws in the round three games this weekend, with all sides still in the mix to make the Semi-Finals. In Saturday’s early game at Dalmatinac Park, hosts Cockburn City recorded their first point of the campaign after a 0-0 draw with Inglewood United. The Cockerels ended the game with ten men after Milan Ognjenovic was shown a second yellow card by referee Steven Gregory, after coming back onto the pitch without permission after a head injury.
“I thought the score line probably reflected the game fairly, as chances at both ends were far and few between,” Cockburn coach Mirko Jelicic said. “Our focus having conceded too many goals in previous games, was to be more coherent and tighter defensively, so from that perspective the boys applied themselves fantastically and really put in a good shift. We are having to shuffle a lot of players and positions at the moment, so our aim going forward is to work towards some stability with the line-up. This continues to be a challenge particularly after losing two defenders last night with injury and a controversial red card.”
It was also a tight game in the second game at the venue, with leaders Perth SC and Armadale also fighting out a 0-0 draw. It was another tight game, with chances few and far between, the best for Perth saw Shubham Mokala cut in from the left, but the ball hit the outside of the post. But the Reds could have won it late, Gordon Perkins’ shot was well saved by Luke Radonich low to his right. “I thought we were competitive from start to finish, and deserved at least a point,” Armadale coach John O’Reilly explained. “The lads worked incredibly hard and stifled any real attacking threat that Perth posed to us. “
The other game in the group was in the early game at Percy Doyle Reserve on Saturday, where Balcatta have come from behind to draw 1-1 with hosts Sorrento. Defender Mark Barnett headed the hosts into the lead on the half hour, but Balcatta, who won for the first-time last week, looked dangerous and deservedly levelled on 68 minutes, with skipper Jon Corness scoring. Both sides pressed for the winner but had to settle for a point each. “There were lots of positives against Sorrento especially in the second half where we played very well, we kept our passing shorter and eventually got our goal,” Corness explained.
“Things are starting to come together bit by bit and were hoping to still be in the mix for the semi-finals come next week against Inglewood which is a big game.” Sorrento coach Trevor Morgan said it was a fair result. “Balcatta put us under a fair bit of pressure after we had taken the lead through Mark Barnet's header and continued to cause us problems on our left side for the first 20 minutes in the second half when they equalised,” he said. “I felt we got back into the game towards the end, but a series of poor set plays and final balls into the box from good positions meant we couldn't get the goal we needed to win the game.”
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES GROUP B - WEEK THREE REVIEW
Stirling Macedonia moved clear at top of the NPLMWA Night Series ladder, after a goal on midway through the second half from new signing Michael Domfeh sealed a 1-0 win against Perth Glory in the early game on Saturday evening at Percy Doyle Reserve. It was a tight first half with Jayden Gorman going close for Glory, while former Glory players Alex Tanevski and Calvin Whitney both found the woodwork. But it was another former Glory player who won it for Ian Ferguson’s side, the striker firing home from close-range on 69 minutes.
“The first half was intense, and in order to keep Glory out required a lot of concentration and organisation, and we held our shape really well thanks to great command from our back four,” Lions’ Shay Donovan explained. “We had been knocking on the door for a while so Michael’s goal was no surprise, so all around, it was a good performance from the boys, but just our final pass or effort on goal let us down at times.”
Stirling assistant coach John Lavery said it was hard fought win, and they are working hard in preparation for the new season. “We were very happy with the result but more importantly the way we played in spells against Glory,” he explained. “They are a great young side with quality right through their squad, but we are happy at the moment with our pre season preparations and hopefully can build on where we are just now.”
In the early game at Frank Drago Reserve on Friday, ECU Joondalup closed the gap on Glory after a come-from-behind 2-1 win against Gwelup Croatia, the result knocking Gwelup out of Semi-Final contention. It was Mitchell Prentice’s side who opened the scoring on the half hour with Kaelan Majeks heading home from close-range after a miscued clearance. But seven minutes into the second half Daryl Nicol levelled, and he added a second on the hour. Both sides had chances late, but couldn’t convert, and ECU finished the game with ten men after Nicol was sent off three minutes from time by referee Julian Serra.
“Very pleased with the performance and where the boys are currently at,” ECU assistant coach Callum Salmon said. “Our focus is always on improving individually, our playing style as a team and the win against Gwelup was a positive step forward in our development. It was also great to see Ellis (Healing) and Bryce (Bafford) progressing after serious injuries, while Joe Pollard made some great saves and Daryl (Nicol) is now five goals in three games.”
In the late game at Frank Drago Reserve Floreat Athena moved levelled with Glory and ECU on six points, after a 2-1 win against hosts Bayswater City, who also bowed out of Semi-Final contention. Vas Vujacic’s side were ahead early from the spot, Jesse Fuller converting after Rob Petkov was brought down in the box. They doubled their lead on 18 minutes, Petkov finding Nick Ambrogio who made no mistake. But City hit back and reduced the margin four minutes later, Gordon Smith heading home Jon Stynes’ cross. The hosts were given a life line just after the hour when Phil Arnold was sent off for a second yellow card, but they couldn’t find the equaliser.
“It’s always nice to get a win over one of your rivals, and Bayswater are a solid outfit with some real quality players, so we had to be disciplined and compact throughout the game and try not to give them many opportunities,” Ambrogio explained. “The lads showed grit and good game management after going down to 10-men to keep Bayswater at bay for a big chunk of the second half. We’re ticking along nicely at the moment and the boys are training hard and getting fitter game by game.”
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES – WEEK TWO REVIEW
It was week two of the State League Night Series and in Group A on Saturday evening Murdoch University Melville made it back-to-back wins after a 4-0 win against Canning City in the early game at Hartfield Park. MUM were ahead two minutes before the break, with Tim Robertson scoring. Josh Gardner doubled their advantage seven minutes into the second half, before Kai Jones and Declan Tanna added the others late. “Whilst I was happy to come away with the win, I was extremely disappointed with our performance,” MUM coach Taki Nicolaidis said. “We were uncharacteristically very sloppy and the scoreline flattered us, and I expect a lot more from the group.”
In the late game at the venue, hosts Forrestfield United bounced back from their first-round defeat, with a 4-0 win against Gosnells City. United were ahead on 24 minutes, with Ollie Parry headed from a Rhys Loxley corner. It was 2-0 eight minutes before the break, with Oli la Galia racing one-on-one with the keeper to score. Denzel Tshuma added a third four minutes after the break, and Freeman Nyatsambo rounded off the scoring 15 minutes from time. “The lads put in a cracking effort during the week at training following last week’s loss determined to get something from this game and the result went our way,” Forrestfield coach Richard Abrams said. “It was a fast-paced game under the lights at Forry with a full grandstand watching, and it was nice to get the points and get our first win as a group under our belts.”
In Group B on Saturday evening Quinns ran out 3-1 winners against Kingsley Westside at Wanneroo Reserve. It was Kingsley who opened the scoring on 35 minutes, with Luke Doyle on target. They held that lead at half time, but on 56 minutes Adam Buckingham levelled for Quinns. Glen Grostate’s side hit the front ten minutes later through Lucas Triglavcanin, while the win was sealed 13 minutes from time with Ben Hinshelwood scoring. “Happy to get the win after being 1-0 down at half time,” Quinns skipper Buckingham said. “We made some changes and the boys played on the front foot with energy which was pleasing.”
In the late game at the venue hosts Wanneroo City fought out a 0-0 draw with Joondalup United, and City coach Jesse Bridgeman said it was a good point. “There were a few positives out of the 0-0 draw with Joondalup, especially as we made a few changes and got some more minutes into a few players legs,” he said. “To also keep a clean sheet was pleasing, but unfortunately we couldn't find the back of the net, but still more positives each week.”
We travelled to Bunbury on Saturday for the Group C games, and in the early game at Hay Park, Curtin University continued their unbeaten start to the competition with a 1-0 win against Rockingham City. The only goal of the game on 70 minutes, when a cross by Jason Peppin, was turned into own net by Rockingham defender Ross Bett, who was trying to clear the danger at the back post. “I’m really happy with the improved performance, as we rotated our squad,” Curtin coach Troy Reid said. “I was particularly pleased with our defensive structure on the night.” In the late game hosts South West Phoenix drew 1-1 with Mandurah City. It was the Dolphins who opened the scoring on 35 minutes, with Rory McGrath scoring. They held that lead until the hour mark when 16-year-old Nathan Hartman was played in on goal and finished well into the top corner. The hosts were reduced to ten men on 74 minutes when Bright Ababio was sent off for a last man foul, but Mandurah couldn’t capitalise on the man advantage.
“Mandurah are really pushing for the NPL with the squad they put together so to get a result against them even with 10 men for the last 16 minutes will give us some great confidence going forward,” Phoenix striker Lee Stewart said. “We unfortunately have lost quite a few of our league winning side from last year but the young lads who have stepped up into the team have been brilliant so far. The work rate and determination from everyone last night was really pleasing to see and will give us a foundation heading into the season. I’m especially pleased for Nathan, at 16 he took his goal really well and it’s great to see players from our junior system get their chance.”
On Friday evening In Group D at Hartfield Park Morley Windmills beat Swan United 3-1 in the early game. Alex Ekeze gave Morley the lead on 18 minutes, but Swan levelled ten minutes later, with John Monterosso on target. A goal five minutes into the second half from Leigh Morgan regained the lead for Morley, and Callum Speed wrapped up the points with third four minutes later. “It was a tough game as expected when you're playing a team within the division, but I thought in the first half we allowed Swan to dictate how we played and were a bit reactive,” Moley coach Antony Benetti said. “In the second half I felt the lads dictated the tempo and moved the ball well to create some very good opportunities. I was pleased with the result with our execution in the final third being a lot better than previous weeks and will only get better with a few boys returning.”
In the late game at the venue Western Knights continued their winning run with a 3-1 win against Fremantle City. Bill Orr gave Fremantle the lead on 23 minutes, but three minutes before the break Noah Shamaki levelled for the Knights. Adam Kostrencic’s side hit the front 15 minutes from time with Ben Campbell on target, and Shamaki wrapped up the win four minutes later with his second. “I thought it was a relatively even contest in the first half and the 1-1 half time scoreline was probably a good indicator of the balance of play up until that point,” Kostrencic explained. “Similarly, to our last game we came out with a bit more purpose after the break, created more chances and were rewarded with a couple of well taken goals to secure a good win against tough opposition.”
We headed to Wanneroo Reserve on Friday evening for the Group E games, and in the early game Balga and Joondalup City fought out a 1-1 draw. City found the opener in first half stoppage time, with Erick Lopez Hernandez finishing off a well worked move. But Balga levelled on the hour, Craig Hollingsworth on target from the spot, but they were reduced to ten men seven minutes from time when Karl Maluga received a second yellow card from Stephen Knight. Joondalup pressed for the winner late but they couldn’t find it. “We are a club in transition at the moment, we have brought in what we believe is the right mix of experience and Youthful Potential, and I’m really pleased to see that start to show against Balga,” Joondalup coach Brad Haywood explained.
“Honestly felt 1-0 was a big let off for Balga going in at half time we could have been 3-4 nil up, but a few little niggles meant we had to change things up, we brought on a few U23 players including Brett Corey (17yrs) who did really well stepping into first team football, he’s a great young kid who has a bright future. A soft penalty gave Balga the equaliser but honestly, we should have got all 3 points, but a good improvement all around we now focus on Kingsway who will be a tough game next weekend.”
Finally in Group F, Dianella White Eagles continued their winning run with an emphatic 6-0 win against Carramar Shamrock Rovers in the early game at Percy Doyle Reserve. Dianella were ahead on 18 minutes, Sasa Njegic played the ball into Luke Salmon who finished well. It was 2-0 three minutes from the break, Nikola Talimdzioski finding the top corner. It was 3-0 just after half time, Jason Stepanovski crossed from the left and Daniel McKenzie headed home clinically. They ended the game well with Kristian Despotovski making it 4-0, before Salmon and McKenzie wrapped up the scoring in a comprehensive win.
“The game for us was all about playing well with each other and getting comfortable with the new players. Everything we are doing in training is working on the field and it’s really enjoyable out there,” Despotovski said. “We have a good squad of young and experienced players and everything is gelling really well. Shamrock is always a tough team to play against, they have heart and desire and aren’t shy of a challenge, but I think today we didn’t stoop down to that and just played our game and ultimately it was really enjoyable.” In the late game at the venue UWA Nedlands have fought back from two goals down at the break to draw 2-2 with Ashfield. Goals from Alen Patarov and Jared Flavel gave Ashfield the perfect start after only 20 minutes, but UWA hit back after the break with a double from Charlie Breen giving both sides a share of the spoils.
GLORY SLUMP TO HEAVY DEFEAT AGAINST CITY
Perth Glory’s good form in the Liberty Women’s A-League has come to an end after a 0-4 loss to Melbourne City at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford on Sunday afternoon. Rhianna Pollicina gave City the lead just before half time, and second half brace from Holly McNamara, and another late from Hannah Wilkinson saw City run out convincing winners. The win consolidated second spot for City, the loss moving Glory out of the top five, but are only three points adrift. It’s been a tough run of games for Alex Epakis’ side, but he had no excuses on the day.
“Credit has to go where it’s due,” he said post-match, “and City were good today. I don’t want to take anything away from what they did, they were fresh, they moved the ball well. We came in with a very specific gameplan which we could see was working for the first 40 or so minutes, but then the goal we conceded just before half-time meant that we had to go forward a little bit more and go after them a little bit more and that left us a bit open in those transition moments. I think 4-0 was an inflated scoreline, but nonetheless, credit has got to go to City and we just weren’t as good today as we can be.”
Epakis made two changes to the side that beat Adelaide United on Thursday, with Courtney Newbon coming in between the sticks, and Sofia Sakalis coming in up front, with Morgan Aquino and Demi Koulizakis dropping to the bench. On the back of the big win against the Reds, it was the Glory who were on the front foot early and Hana Lowry capitalised on a defensive mix-up, but her goalbound shot was blocked by the alert Kaitlyn Torpey. City were hitting on the break and Newbon had to be alert twice, to prevent the lively McNamara from scoring. It looked like being a scoreless first half, but two minutes into stoppage time City found the opener. Wilkinson headed the ball down on the edge of the penalty area for Pollicina, who controlled the ball and finishing well past Newbon.
Glory looked for a quick response after the break, and after Lowry’s corner was only cleared to the edge of the box Sakalis fired wide of the target. They went close again on the hour, Sakalis was the provider this time, setting up Deborah-Anne de la Harpe, but her shot from a tight angle flashed wide. But sixty seconds later it was City who added a second. Glory had a corner, which caused a goalmouth scramble, but it was cleared long by keeper Melissa Barbieri, and the unfortunate Abbey Green’s header back to Newbon was short, and McNamara raced in on goal and finished clinically past the Glory custodian.
Former Glory midfielder Leticia McKenna replaced Pollicina on 73 minutes, and she almost added a third seven minutes later, her long-range shot going inches over the top. But three minutes from time they did find a third, McKenna’s pass over the Glory backline found McKenna who lobbed Newbon. They added a fourth in stoppage time, a ball over top sent Wilkinson in on goal, as the Glory defence looked for the offside flag, that never came, and she rounded Newbon and rolled the ball into an empty net to seal a comprehensive win for Rado Vidosic’s side.
Perth Glory: GK Courtney NEWBON, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 5 Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY (11 Lisa DE VANNA 67'), 12 Sofia SAKALIS (9 Demi KOULIZAKIS 68'), 13 Sarah CAIN (29 Leena KHAMIS 73'), 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 17 Abbey GREEN, 26 Mie LETH JANS (18 Sadie LAWRENCE 68') - Subs not used: RGK Morgan AQUINO
Melbourne City: GK Melissa BARBIERI, 5 Tori TURNETH, 7 Winonah HEATLEY, 8 Kaitlyn TORPEY (2 Marissa VAN DE MEER 73'), 9 Holly MCNAMARA, 10 Rhianna POLLICINA (6 Leticia MCKENNA 73'), 13 Rebekah STOTT (16 Meisha WESTLAND 63'), 15 Emma CHECKER, 17 Hannah WILKINSON, 18 Leah DAVIDSON, 19 Tyla Jay VLAJNIC (4 Chelsea BLISSETT 84') - Subs not used: RGK Sally JAMES - Referee: Lara Lee
STYNES GIVES GLORY A VITAL POINT IN GOSFORD
Perth Glory midfielder Daniel Stynes has scored an equaliser deep into stoppage time to give Richard Garcia’s side a 1-1 draw in the Isuzu Ute Men’s A-League clash at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford. Both sides produced chances in an end-to-end game but it looked like the hosts had won after Scottish striker Jason Cummings scored just before the hour, but Glory battled till the end and former Gwelup Croatia midfielder Stynes swept home the equaliser three minutes into added on time. Despite the late goal, Glory remains at the foot of the table, but they do have two games in hand, but Garcia was delighted with his side’s resilience.
“It was a real gutsy performance,” he said post-match. “In the first half, we played well, the boys really stroked the ball around well and created some chance which we should probably have taken advantage of. But you could tell in that second half we lost our wind. We’ve got six guys who have just come out of quarantine from COVID and the effort they put in tonight was a massive one. “Their desire and their effort to stick together as a group and eventually get a result was fantastic to see.”
Garcia made six changes to the side that were edged out by Western Sydney Wanderers 11 days ago, with skipper Brandon O’Neill, Bruno Fornaroli, Aaron Calver, Mitch Oxborrow, Pacifique Niyongabire and new signing Nick Fitzgerald coming into the side. Andy Keogh and Jonathan Aspropotamitis dropped to the bench, while Josh Rawlins, Osama Malik, Callum Timmons and Adrian Sardinero were omitted. Also on the bench, Garcia brought in NPL Academy products Adam Zimarino and Aidan Edwards, both in the game day squad for the first time.
Glory made a positive start to the game and Oxborrow was first to test Perth-Born Mariners keeper Mark Birighitti on ten minutes, but his shot was straight at the keeper. But Birighitti then produced a stunning one handed save to deny Calver’s long-range strike seven minutes later, as Glory pressed for the opener. Garcia’s side were dominating possession, but the Mariners slowly started to get back into the game and the lively Lewis Miller’s strong run down the right, saw him cross to Nicolai Muller, who failed to find the target when well placed.
Fornaroli was isolated up top, but he is deadly in and around the penalty area, and he sent a shot, inches over the top on the half hour. Glory debutant Fitzgerald then came to his sides rescue, after they failed to clear a cross and Miller’s back heel was cleared off the line by the former Mariners midfielder. It was end-to-end football late in the half, with chances at both ends. First, after good approach work from Cummings, Marcos Urena stung the palms of Cameron Cook, before Daniel Hall had to be alert to clear Burke-Gilroy’s cross into the box, with Ota ready to pounce, but at the break it was scoreless.
Cook was in the action again early in the second half, getting down well to save Cummings’ low shot, but on 58 minutes it was the hosts who opened the scoring. A quick saw the ball at the feet of Urena, and the Costa Rican striker flicked the ball into the path of Cummings, and the former Hibernian striker finished clinically past Cook. Glory hit back and Giordano Colli’s long-range shot flew over the top, as they pressed for the equaliser, and Birighitti then produced another stunning one-handed save to thwart Fornaroli’s powerful header, after a pin-Point cross from Burke-Gilroy. The hosts had the ball on the net again on 88 minutes, but second half substitute Beni Nkololo had drifted offside and after a VAR check the goal was disallowed.
It looked like the Glory would leave empty handed, but this side is resilient, and three minutes into stoppage time they found the equaliser. A long ball into the box by Darryl Lachman was brought down by Fornaroli, the ball falling to Zimarino, who was on for his A-League debut, and he toe poked the ball to Stynes who fired low through a crowded penalty area, the ball nestling in the bottom corner of the net, and he raced off to celebrate with the small band of Glory supporters in the stands. It was heart in mouth time with VAR taking an age looking at the goal, but after a lengthy delay the goal stood, giving Garcia’s side a battling point.
Central Coast Mariners: GK Mark BIRIGHITTI, 3 Lewis MILLER, 5 Noah SMITH (4 Josh NISBET 86'), 8 Oliver BOZANIC, 9 Jason CUMMINGS (11 Beni NKOLOLO 78'), 12 Marcos URENA (10 Matheus RODRIGUES 61'), 14 Kye ROWLES, 23 Daniel HALL, 25 Matthew HATCH (7 Cy GODDARD 46'), 27 Nicolai MULLER, 34 Harrison STEELE - Subs not used: RGK Patrick BEACH
Perth Glory: GK Cameron COOK, 2 Aaron CALVER, 8 Kosuke OTA, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 11 Nick FITZGERALD (14 Jack CLISBY 74'), 13 Brandon O’NEILL, 21 Antonee BURKE-GILROY, 23 Mitch OXBORROW (18 Daniel STYNES 66'), 24 Pacifique NIYONGABIRE (43 Adam ZIMARINO 56'), 26 Giordano COLLI (10 Andy KEOGH 73'), 29 Darryl LACHMAN - Subs not used: RGK Liam REDDY, 5 Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 45 Aidan EDWARDS - Referee: Jonathan Barreiro
FITZGERALD HEADS WEST FOR MORE GLORY
Perth Glory have continued to strengthen their squad this week, with midfielder Nick Fitzgerald signing with the club for the remainder of the season. The 29-year-old has played nearly 200 A-League games during spells with Central Coast Mariners, Brisbane Roar, Melbourne City, Western Sydney Wanderers and Newcastle Jets. A former Australia Under-20 and Under-23 international, Fitzgerald was a Championship winner with both Roar and the Mariners and also claimed FFA Cup honours during his time at Melbourne City.
The midfielder spent last season with Indian Super League club Jamshedpur FC, making eight appearances, but after Fitzgerald returned to his native Sydney, and is now relishing the challenge ahead at Glory. “I’m really excited to be back in the A-League and playing with Perth Glory,” he told the Glory website. “I’m looking forward to the challenge and helping the boys to try and achieve something good this year. It’s been difficult being away from Perth, but we’re still hoping to get back there and play in front of the Glory Members and fans.”
Glory Head Coach Richard Garcia, believes that Fitzgerald will be an excellent addition to the squad, and the midfielder is expected to come straight into the Glory squad for Sunday’s clash with Central Coast Mariners. “Nick is an experienced A-League player who will bring us another experienced option in attack,” he said. “He’s determined to prove his quality at this level again and has settled well within the squad.”
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK THREE PREVIEW
It’s round three of the NPLMWA Night Series and Semi-Final spots are still up for grabs in both groups. First on Saturday in Group A we head to Dalmatinac Park and in the opening game Cockburn City host Inglewood United. (5.00pm) Holders Inglewood remains unbeaten in the competition after a 3-1 win against Sorrento last week, while the Cockerels are still searching for their first win, after a loss to leaders Perth SC last week. Cockburn coach Mirko Jelicic said there were some signs last week against Perth, but he knows it’s still early days. “Perth’s playing style was somewhat easier to cope with, the directness and physicality of Sorrento troubled us and Perth presented a different challenge,” he explained.
“With a lot of movement at Cockburn we are struggling with consistency and still finding our feet. Pre-season work and friendlies don't give you a true barometer of where you are at, but these games now certainly do. There is a lot of work ahead of us and we welcome the challenge. Inglewood will certainly be a stern test, they seem to have a settled line-up and playing style, areas that we are still working around. So, finding that consistency and blend between new players particularly the young ones in our squad are what lies before us.”
In the late game at the venue the unbeaten Perth SC will look to continue that when they meet Armadale. (7.00pm) Despite a big turnover of players the Azzurri have continued where they left off last season, and a win in this one will almost certainly seal a spot in the knockout stage. On the other hand, Armadale need a win in this one to keep their hopes of advancing and midfielder Adriano Jelenovic said they have been competitive in both games and go into Saturday’s game in a confident mood. “It’s unfortunate how we lost points in both games, individual mistakes cost us points, mistakes that you can’t coach or do much about, but hopefully we have learned from them and won’t repeat them in the future,” the midfielder explained.
“However, there are a lot of positives in and around the team. Depth of the team is reasonably good and a lot of us players are fighting for positions in the team, so I can see successful season in front of us if we manage to stay together, and we don’t lose too many players due to injuries. The Perth game is definitely going to be really competitive, they have new young squad full of potential and good young players, so we will need to be on top of our game if we willing to take positive result. I just hope that we go to play good attacking football and entertaining crowd.”
The other game in the group takes us to Perth Doyle Reserve on Saturday evening, where Sorrento host Balcatta in the early game. (5.00pm) Both sides are level on points, the Gulls losing to Inglewood while Balcatta beat Armadale. Balcatta midfielder Jon Corness said it was good to get the win and keep their semi-final hopes alive. “It was quite an even game against Armadale, both teams had chances and fortunately we were able to take them at the end to take the win,” he said. “We have some things we need to improve on and we'll be looking to do that against Sorrento. It's another chance to make sure things are set for the start of the NPL season against Sorrento, we want to be effective with the ball and move it about.”
In Group B there is a top of the table clash as the undefeated Stirling Macedonia meet Perth Glory in the late game at Percy Doyle Reserve on Saturday evening. (7.00pm) Stirling edged out Bayswater last week, with a late stunning strike from former Glory striker Alex Tanevski, while the Glory youngsters eased past ECU Joondalup. Glory midfielder Aiden Edwards said it was a good all-round performance, and one they want to build on this weekend. “Credit to the boys for getting back-to-back wins against Gwelup and ECU Joondalup, and it’s good to see the work that we have been putting in this pre-season has been coming into play,” he said. “Stirling are looking quite good and have had an excellent start to the Night Series, so the boys know it will be a tough game ahead. The focus this week is to prepare and get the win on Saturday which will put us in a great position for finals.”
The other games on the group are at a Frank Drago Reserve on Friday evening, and in the early game Gwelup Croatia take on ECU Joondalup. (6.30pm) Gwelup will go on search of their Friday win in the competition, this after two narrow 1-0 losses. It’s been a massive week for ECU, as their merger with Northern Redbacks was announced, and defender Nelson Tshongo said they have put that and the loss to Glory behind them and will look to get back into the winners’ circle on Friday. “Definitely the score line didn’t reflect the way the game played out, but when you take your chances away that is usually the result. There were positives from the game and negatives as well from our end which will work to build on and make sure they don’t happen,” he said. “We will definitely come out to try get the three points against Gwelup, but most importantly for us is the way we play and if we execute what’ve been working on and take our chances then it will be an enjoyable evening for the lads and our supporters.”
In the late game at the venue Floreat Athena take on Bayswater City. (8.30pm) Bayswater are still searching for their first win of the competition, while Floreat bounced back from the opening round loss to beat Gwelup. Floreat coach Vas Vujacic said it was good to bounce back. “We are happy with getting three points on the board, especially after the bad loss the week before against Stirling,” he said. “We’ve been working hard during the weeks to increase our fitness levels, so not surprisingly it was a bit of a sluggish start. I feel we had the better opportunities and deserved our victory. On Friday we know Bayswater have recruited well and I have no doubt they will be a good side this year. It’s hard to look into results too much as I think they would be working very hard on their fitness as well. We are looking for another step up in our performance and hopefully another three points.”
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES – WEEK TWO PREVIEW
It’s week two of the State League Night Series, and it kicks off on Friday evening with the top two teams in Group E, Subiaco and Olympic Kingsway, meeting in the late game at Wanneroo Reserve. (8.30pm) David Tough’s side beat Balga in the opening round, but Goran Stajic’s Subiaco side bagged seven last week against Joondalup City. Ethan Johnson did most of the damage, scoring a hat trick, and he said it was a good first up performance, but he is well aware there is a long way to go. “We came into the game expecting a battle from a team who would be up for it, playing against a higher division team, and we got that battle from Joondalup,” Johnson said. “However, we were able to control the game with the style of play Goran (Stajic) and the coaching staff have been working on with the team. We took the chances that we created really well, hence the score, and I’m really pleased with myself, getting on that score sheet.
“We are looking forward to competing against a team in our respective league. It will be a step up in competition to what we have played in the past and we must be very focused, as it is an extremely important fixture. Not only is it important in terms of which team will progress in the night series, but it is important to see how we can compete against a team that we will be playing later on in the regular season. I’m excited for the game, hoping to score more goals and to test my abilities against stronger opponents, as well as seeing how our style will fair against them.” In the early game in the group Balga and Joondalup City will be both looking for their first win in the competition. (6.30pm)
We also head to Hartfield Park on Friday, and Swan United and Morley Windmills meet in the early game. (6.30pm) Both sides lost their opening round games, Morley against the Knights, and Swan against Fremantle City, but coach Dan Evans said he saw some positives on the defeat. “Actually, I’m fairly happy with the start, and three of the back four were under-21 and we got important minutes in for the season. We should have been playing against ten men for 70 minutes after a poor tackle that left Deng Dut with ligament damage, and we also missed a penalty, so we’re competitive, but Fremantle deserved the points so congrats to Cam Lord and his team but it was a worthwhile experience for us,” Evans explained. “No doubt Friday will be a tough game as Morley have recruited well. It’s the first time in pre-season we play a team from our division so we’re looking forward to it. We will make some changes ahead of the game, so we’re confident, but at this stage of the year it’s more about our process and staying on track for round one proper.” In the late game at the venue Fremantle City meet local rivals Western Knights. (8.30pm)
The Group A games are on Saturday evening at Hartfield Park and on the late game Forrestfield United take on local rivals Gosnells City. (7.00pm) The hosts were beaten by Murdoch University Melville in the opening game, while Marc Anthony’s side beat Canning City, and the coach said it was good to start to the competition with a win. “Steady start to the night series it's only our second game together as we didn't want to play too many friendlies,” he said. “So happy enough with the result as I know our fitness and performance will improve throughout the night series. We know it will be a tough game against Forrie who look a very fit and youthful side who looked pretty good against Melville, so looking forward to the test. We as a squad are looking at building our fitness and gradually improving which I'm sure we will achieve in the coming weeks.”
In Group B we head to Wanneroo Reserve on Saturday evening and in the early game Quinns take on Kingsley Westside. (5.00pm) Quinns were held to a draw by Wanneroo last week, while Kingsley were beaten by Joondalup United, and coach Steven Dimitrovich said they learnt a lot from the game. “Not the start we wanted in the night series against Joondalup but I wasn’t to displeased by the overall performance of my boys, he said. “We are still early into how we want to play this year and in the end one player was the difference in the game. It’s another tough one this week against Quinns and another opportunity for me to play some different players to get some game time during the night series and to keep working on our style of play.” In the late game at the venue Joondalup United will look for back-to-back wins when they take on hosts Wanneroo City. (7.00pm)
We head to Bunbury for the Group C games on Saturday, and in the early game at Hay Park, Curtin University will also be searching for back-to-back wins when they take on Rockingham City. (5.00pm) City were held to a draw in the opener by a ten-man Mandurah City last week, while Curtin upset hosts South West Phoenix. Curtin’s midfielder Callum McCaskie said it was a hard-fought win, and one they want to build on. “It was really nice to get the three points, and for a few of us, that was our first formal preseason hit-out, so was nice to blow out the cobwebs. I thought we created some good chances throughout the game and looked to connect. Unfortunately, we weren’t so tight defensively and that’s definitely something we’ll look at fixing during training this week,” he said.
“It’s another long drive down to Bunbury and another tough fixture. We watched the Rockingham-Mandurah game, and the tempo, particularly in the first half was quite high so we are under no illusion that we will have to be at our sharpest to fully compete with Rockingham. They looked very solid defensively too, so we’ll really have to be at our best to break them down. But it’s still early in preseason and having the opportunity to play a side in a division higher than us is something we’re really excited about, hopefully it’s not as hot as it was last week.” In the late game at the venue, holders Mandurah City take on hosts South West Phoenix. (7.00pm)
Finally in Group F we head to Percy Doyle Reserve on Sunday, and in the early game Carramar Shamrock Rovers take on Dianella White Eagles. (5.00pm) The Eagles beat Ashfield in the opener, while Rovers fought out a 2-2 draw with UWA Nedlands. Rovers’ Ross Jarman said it was disappointing to let a two-lead slip but they move on. “I thought we played really well in the first half, we created chances and remained tight at the back. It was a shame to concede two quick goals in the second half but I think it has motivated the boys to maintain focus for the entire game this weekend,” he explained. “Dianella looked good, they were a strong compact unit and I'm looking forward to a tightly contested game this weekend.”
TEN-WOMEN GLORY BEAT ADELAIDE TO KEEP TOP FOUR HOPES ALIVE
Perth Glory have kept their Liberty Womens A-League top four hopes after a gutsy 1-0 win against Adelaide United at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford. After conceding two late goals on Saturday against Canberra United, it was vital to claim the points in this one and Danish defender Mie Leth Jans’ first half header saw them ahead at the break. But on 62 minutes, half time substitute Susan Phonsongkham received a second yellow card and was sent off. It was backs to the wall stuff for Alex Epakis’ side, but they held on to seal and important win.
The Head Coach was understandably delighted with his sides’ overall display. “It was such a proud and pleasing performance,” he said post-match. “I said to the group before the match that what we’re going through as a collective at the moment is inspiring in the way the players are facing up to all the challenges. I said we needed an inspired performance today and they certainly went above and beyond that. What the players did today wasn’t always pretty, it wasn’t always by the game plan, but it was based on effort, pure determination and a fixated mindset that we wanted to defend a lead and defend the win. The way they did it fills me and the group with so much belief about what the next few weeks can look like.”
With the tough schedule of games coming up, Glory made two changes to the side that drew at Canberra, with Demi Koulizakis coming in for her starting debut in place of Lisa de Vanna, while Sarah Cain came in for Sadie Lawrence. It was a perfect start for Epakis’ side and they hit the front on six minutes, Deborah -Anne de la Harpe’s corner to the front post was headed home by Leth Jans. The goal liftd the Reds and Emily Condon’s shot flashed wide moments later and on 12 minutes it looked like they had found the equaliser.
Condon’s shot was saved by Morgan Aquino, and Fiona Worts fired home the rebound, but the striker and the rest of the Adelaide players and coaching staff, were left bemused with a very late offside flag was raised in the build-up. Worts went close again for Adelaide on the half hour, but her volley from the edge of the penalty area flew over the top, before Aquino got down well to deny Chelsie Dawbar, but at the break Glory held a narrow lead.
Epakis made a change at the break with Phonsongkham, who was returning from injury, coming on for Koulizakis and Glory were on the front foot early, and Natasha Rigby’s header was blocked in the box and cleared. The game took another twist on 62 minutes when a tackle on Dylan Holmes by Phonsongkham, earned the striker a second yellow card from referee Georgia Ghirardello and sent off.
Lifted by their numerical advantage, the Reds pushed hard for an equaliser, but Glory held firm, with Liz Anton, Kim Carroll, skipper Rigby and the rest of the defenders working overtime, while Aquino was also on her game, getting a hand to push Dawbar’s effort around the post on 79 minutes. Glory almost nicked a second on the break three minutes later, good work by Abbey Green saw her find substitute Sofia Sakalis, who was thwarted by a save from Annelle Green. Then deep into stoppage time Aquino pushed substitute Reona Omiya’s shot into the side netting, and ensure that Glory would not be denied a deserved fifth win of the season.
Perth Glory: GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 5 Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY (12 Sofia SAKALIS 72’), 9 Demi KOULIZAKIS (10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM 46’), 15 Cyera HINTZEN (11 Lisa DE VANNA 82’), 17 Abbey GREEN (21Aideen KEANE 84’), 13 Sarah CAIN, 26 Mie LETH JANS – Subs not used: RGK Courtney NEWBON - Red Cards: Phonsongkham 62’
Adelaide United: GK Annalee GROVE, 2 Emily HODGSON (17 Shadeene EVANS 80'), 3 Matilda MACNAMARA, 4 Kayla SHARPLES, 8 Emily CONDON (5 Emma STANBURY 68'), 9 Paige HAYWARD (15 Meleri MULLAN 80'), 10 Chelsie DAWBER, 11 Isabel HODGSON, 12 Nanako SASAKI (6 Reona OMIYA 65'), 16 Dylan HOLMES, 23 Fiona WORTS – Subs not used: RGK Miranda TEMPLEMAN - Referee: Georgia Ghirardello
GLORY SWEAT ON TRIPLE-VAX MANDATE
Perth Glory chief executive Tony Pignata says it will be wrong of the West Australian Government to impose a three-vaccine policy on any fly-in, fly-out teams visiting Perth. AFL sides Fremantle Dockers and West Coast Eagles received good today when informed they would be able to host games in Perth this weekend.
Glory’s men’s team hasn't played a home game since their round one fixture on November 20. There are plans in place for Glory to return to Perth in late February or early March for a run of up to eight consecutive home games. But those plans could be scuppered if the WA Government demands that visiting teams will need to be triple jabbed.
"It's going to make it hard," Glory chief executive Tony Pignata said. "My argument is - and this is what I'll be bringing up with the health officer - is that teams who are coming in and out are not going to be residing in WA, so they're not going to pose a risk. They're basically coming in as a bubble, quarantining and getting out."
"If you look at 11 teams, 20 players each team plus stuff, you've got over 300 people who are going to have to get triple vaxxed in two weeks. That's wrong. We agree that people coming back to Perth to reside, being our players and staff, they should be triple vaxxed. No problem. But teams flying in and out - to get them triple vaxxed is going to be difficult in an amount of time for us to play home games."
A host of players from varying sports have been reluctant to be vaccinated during the season due to the potential side effects they may suffer. "Some people could be three or four days out and coaches won't want to lose their best players," Pignata said. "So when is the right time to do it? There needs to be a little bit of common sense."
GLORY WOMEN BRACE FOR TOUGHEST TEST YET
Perth Glory coach Alex Epakis says he will stick to his attacking game plan as the club attempts to take down the A-League Women's best sides. Glory's top-four hopes were dealt a huge blow last week when they let a two-goal lead slip in a 3-3 draw against lowly Canberra United. It came just five days after they needed two late goals to secure a 3-2 win over last-placed Wellington Phoenix.
The draw with Canberra resulted in Perth slipping to fifth spot, and they will now play the top four teams in their next four games starting with Thursday's clash with third-placed Adelaide United. After that they face second-placed Melbourne City, fourth-placed Melbourne Victory and then ladder-leading Sydney FC.
Epakis is confident his attacking, high-tempo style can win games against top opposition. "My personal belief is that we have a certain style of play, and it's something that's specific to us and our characteristics and the strengths of the players that we have," said Epakis, whose team have come a long way from that which finished last season on the bottom of the ladder.
"I've never been in the business of changing it for the opposition. We might tweak it, but we'll never go full shift away from it. For us it's plan A. And if plan A is not working, we just need to do plan A better. That's the approach I've always worked towards. When we execute plan A and we execute it perfectly, we're going to be a hard team to stop."
Epakis conceded the draw in Canberra had made their finals hopes tougher. "It definitely makes it a bit more tricky, but this group has only ever done things the hard way since I've been here," he said. "We've been dealt a lot of difficult cards over the two seasons, and that has to count towards something. And it's probably in these moments where we can rely on the learnings and some of the previous heartbreaks."
LYDEN RUPTURES ACHILLES
Swindon Town’s Jordan Lyden has ruptured his Achilles and could miss the rest of the English League Two season through injury. The 26-year old midfielder went down in the second half of Swindon’s 2-1 defeat to Exeter City on the weekend.
"Unfortunately, it's bad news with Jordan. He's ruptured his Achilles, " said coach Ben Garner. "That's a huge blow, he's had a lot of injury set-backs in his career and unfortunately this is another one. We're all bitterly disappointed for him, and we'll make sure we do everything we can now to support him on and off the pitch."
"At the time on Saturday, he thought he got kicked, he thought studs went down the back of his leg and he actually tried to carry on which is remarkable considering the injury he had. But he'd ruptured his Achilles, that pain he felt wasn't a kick, it was the tendon going."
"He's worked so hard this season to get himself in really good shape, probably the best place he's been in physically, and he'd got back into the team over the last couple of months. He would have been a big part of that for the rest of the season. We're disappointed from a team perspective, but more so from Jordan's perspective."
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - GROUP A WEEK TWO REVIEW
We have a new leader in Group A of the NPLMWA Night Series, after Perth SC made it back-to-back wins with a 3-1 win against Cockburn City in the late game at Dorrien Gardens on Friday evening. The hosts burst the game wide open midway through the first half, with two goals in as many minutes from Daniel Zivkovic and Ethan Banks. But Cockburn hit back before the break with Justin Tang reducing the margin. But Perth sealed the points five minutes into the second half with Shubham Mokala adding a third. The win was slightly spoiled with the sending off of Jordan De Leo in stoppage time. “Really happy to get a back-to-back win especially considering we are a quite young and new team in some ways,” Mokala explained. “It’s great to see us all getting to gel on and off the pitch so the wins feel extra special.”
Sorrento lost top spot in the group after a 3-1 loss against reigning holders Inglewood United on Saturday evening at Inglewood Stadium. The Gulls bagged five last week against Cockburn but found themselves behind on the half hour mark in this one when Harry Evans converting from the spot. They doubled their lead on 79 minutes, Hamza Belhassan on target, and they wrapped up the points in stoppage time with former Armadale striker Chad Nilson adding a third. Sorrento scored a consolation goal late with Scott Witschge scoring, but it was Inglewood taking the points. “It was an enjoyable game to play in and a good result in hot conditions against a well experienced Sorrento side,” Evans explained. “Pleasing to see what we’ve been working on in training with Andres (Oliveira) and Jason (Colli) coming into effect in the game. It was disappointing to concede late on but we will keep building as a team week on week and take it as it comes.”
The other game in the group saw Balcatta Etna move off the bottom of the table, to be replaced by Armadale, after a 4-2 win at Dorrien Gardens in the early game on Friday evening. Former Reds defender Billy Quinncroft gave Balcatta the lead on ten minutes, but Reds’ winger Gordon Perkins levelled on 36 minutes. Michael Johnson’s side regained the lead six minutes later with Trent Coehn deflecting the ball into his own net, but in the shadows of the break Armadale restored parity, Adriano Jelenovic finding the net. Both sides pressed for the winner after the break in an entertaining game, but it was Balcatta who found the third three minutes into stoppage time through Kyle Murray. They put the icing on the cake sixty seconds later with Amir Ajan adding a fourth. “We were happy with the result tonight,” Balcatta Head Coach Michael Johnson said. “Armadale are a difficult team to play against but I thought we defended well particularly in the he second half, and to score four goals was just reward for our effort.”
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - GROUP B WEEK TWO REVIEW
We have two undefeated sides at the top of Group B in the NPLMWA Night Series, with both Stirling Macedonia and Perth Glory gaining maximum points from their opening two games. First on Friday newly-promoted Stirling hosted Bayswater City in the early game at Macedonia Park and found themselves ahead after only eight minutes with Asher Nelson scoring. But City, who lost their opener against ECU Joondalup, hit back three minutes before half time with Ndumba Makeche finding the net. It looked like the points would be shared but four minutes from time a long-range strike from substitute Alex Tanevski sealed the victory. “The first 45 minutes saw us have the majority of possession and better chances, and we were rewarded with a 1-0 lead early on,” Stirling skipper Dejan Spaseski said. “A ball over the top and a defensive error saw Bayswater equalise, but second half was more even, but our quality came through in the last 15 minutes and we were back on top, and Alex came off the bench to score a 25-yard screamer into the top left corner.”
Perth Glory moved level on points with Stirling, just behind on goal difference, after beating ECU Joondalup 4-1 in the late game on Saturday evening at Inglewood Stadium. It was a tight first half with both sides having their chances, then two minutes into the second half Aiden Edwards opened the scoring for the Glory youngsters. But eight minutes from time Joondalup levelled with youngster Louis Hadfield scoring, but Glory hit back and regained the lead three minutes later through Adam Zimarino. Glory was determined not to let the lead slip again and added two further goals in stoppage time, with Matt George and Joe Hobson finding the target to seal the points. “Very pleased with the group and how they are looking to implement how Ruben (Zadkovich) and I see them playing,” Glory coach Chris Coyne explained. “We were very good in the second half and suffocated ECU, and it was great to see young 16-year-old Matt George make one and score a cracker. The group is coming along nicely and we will keep looking to improve week by week.”
In the other Group B game Floreat Athena bounced back from a heavy defeat against Stirling last week to beat Gwelup Croatia 1-0 in the late game on Friday evening at Macedonia Park. Both these sides were looking for their first win of the competition and Gwelup thought they had the lead on the hour, but Samuel Dweh’s volley was superbly pushed onto the bar by the alert Jason Saldaris. Then seven minutes later Floreat found the winner, Jesse Fuller converting from the spot. “It was tough fought three points after a disappointing opening for the night series last week,” Floreat keeper Saldaris said. “We have hit the track a little harder and took our second 90-minute game a totally different way all in all. A clean sheet was our first target and the win was the second and now we roll onto Bayswater next week with a bit of momentum.”
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES – WEEK ONE REVIEW
The 2022 State League Men’s Night Series began this weekend with some high scoring games, and it was a five-goal thriller in the opening Group A game on Friday evening as Murdoch University Melville edged out Forrestfield 3-2 in the early game at Hartfield Park. The visitors opened the scoring on 16 minutes, with Ben Pellizzari on target, but the hosts were level before the break with a Denzel Tshuma screamer from 30-meters. But two quick goals after half time put MUM in control, first through Godfrey Asimwe, and then Pat Sara. Forrestfield weren’t finished and former Gwelup striker Oli La Galia reduced the margin on 64 minutes, but they couldn’t find the equaliser. “Very pleased with our performance and the result against a talented Forrestfield side,” MUM Coach Taki Nicolaidis said. “Whilst we didn’t have the match conditioning that our opponents had, we definitely took advantage of the key moments in the game. I was also very pleased with the starting debut of 16-year-old Taj Bingwa who has come through the MUM junior system and assisted with the first goal.” In the late game at the venue a stunning goal from the half way line by from Connor Kavanagh and another from Brice Rae saw Gosnells City beat local rivals Canning City 2-0.
In Group B on Friday evening, Joondalup United started the competition with a bang, beating Kingsway Westside 4-1 in the late game at Wanneroo Reserve. Gavin Knight gave United the lead on 36 minutes, but a diving header from Andy O’Neill saw Kingsley restore parity at the break. It was two quick goals from Knight, to complete his hat-trick, that saw Joondalup take control and Ben Johns added a fourth late. “Very pleasing to start our night series campaign with a win,” Joondalup Coach Nick Jennings said. “We struggled at times with the physicality and energy of a youthful Kingsley side, but in the end we had too much quality and experience.” In the early game at the venue, it was a six-goal thriller with Quinns coming from behind three times to draw 3-3 with Wanneroo. The hosts were ahead on 23 minutes, when Aaron Louttit volleyed home from a corner, but last season’s top goalscorer Ben Hinshelwood hit back seven minutes later for Quinns. Instantly Wanneroo regained the lead Daragh Kavanagh finding the net after good work from Nathan Scully. Hinshelwood restored parity again for Quinns five minutes into the second half, but Scully headed home a third for the hosts on 71 minutes. It looked like the winner, but three minutes from time Gareth Hamilton levelled things up. “It was a good game, we grew into it after about 10 minutes and I thought we took control,” Wanneroo coach Jesse Bridgeman said. “In the second half we should have put the game to bed early, but missed chances and let Quinns back into the game. But there were plenty of positives from the side and excellent work rate from start to finish in the heat so I'm proud of the efforts”
In Group C, Curtin University made the long trip to Hay Park in Bunbury, and came home with all three points after a 3-2 win against hosts South West Phoenix in the early game at the venue. The Phoenix were ahead on five minutes with Tom Stelle scoring, but Curtin hit back Callum McCaskie’s cross was turned into his own net by Bright Ababio. Curtin were ahead moments later, again McCaskie’s cross caused problems and Simone Sichel made no mistake. Phoenix levelled before half time with Lee Stewart on target, and both sides pressed for the winner after the break, but it was Curtin creating the better chances and they ultimately found it ten minutes from time, Tiago de Souza cutting in from the left to score. “It was a gritty win in hot conditions and I was happier with the second half performance after some poor defending in the first half,” Curtin coach Troy Reid said. “We have plenty to work on this week ahead of Rockingham next weekend.” In the late game at the venue Rockingham City and Mandurah City fought out a 0-0 draw. It was a good point for the Dolphins after they had James Paylor sent off after only ten minutes. “I thought Rockingham started the game a lot better than us, we never really settled down till the sending off,” Mandurah player-coach John Baird explained. “After that I felt we played some good stuff considering we only had 10 men. Over the piece I felt we had the better chances, suppose going down to 10 men and keeping a clean sheet we have to be pleased.”
In Group D Fremantle City opened their games with a hard fought 2-0 win against Swan United in the early game at Hartfield Park on Saturday evening. Adam Carlino gave the port side the lead after only three minutes, before Hayden Stevens added a second on the quarter hour mark. Swan had a chance to pull one back five minutes from time, but John Monterosso had a penalty well saved by Jordan Barbas. “It’s always nice to be playing for points again, and to win games of football and keep clean sheets,” Fremantle coach Cameron Lord said. “Good luck to Swan for their season and we look forward to facing Western Knights on Friday.” In the late game at the venue Western Knights ran out 3-1 winners against Morley Windmills. Goals from Ben Campbell and Paul Lloyd had the Knights two up after an hour, and the points were sealed 16 minutes from time when Noah Shamaki added a third. Morley scored a consolation goal late with Alex Ekeze on target. - It took us a while to get going against a very good Morley side,” Knights new coach Adam Kostrencic said. “But that was to be expected at this stage of preseason especially with several new players joining the squad, but our second half performance was better and we’ll continue to build on that in the coming matches.”
In Group E on Saturday evening Olympic Kingsway secured a 3-0 win against Balga in the early game at Wanneroo Reserve. Ritchie Howles gave David Tough’s side the lead in first half stoppage time, before second half goals to David Perich and Daniel Harrison sealed the points. “In tough conditions with the heat I thought we controlled the majority the game and were worth winners,” Tough explained. “It’s another step in the right direction getting the players match fit and ready for the season ahead.” In the late at the venue, Goran Stajic started life as Subiaco coach with a 7-0 rout of Joondalup City. Ethan Johnson did most of the damage bagging a hat-trick, with others to Cian Guest, Elliot Ireland, Vasco da Silva and Zac Benabid. “It’s still early doors, but I think Saturday really showed all the hard work we’ve put in this preseason under the new coaching staff and all the effort they’ve put in for us,” Ireland said. “I think I can speak for everyone and say we really enjoyed Saturday, scoring seven, and keeping a clean sheet, it gives us the confidence to go again this Friday against Kingsway.”
Finally in Group F Dianella White Eagles were the big winners, beating Ashfield 4-0 in the early game at Frank Drago Reserve on Saturday evening. Luke Salmon gave the Eagles the lead early, before further goals from Daniel Mackenzie and another from Salmon gave them a 3-0 lead at the break. Salmon completed his hat-trick from the spot just after the hour mark, to seal a memorable debut game for the club. “Delighted to start the Night Series with a win, and I thought we played some good stuff, but its only pre-season and Bobby and I know there is room for improvement,” Eagles coach Stewart Moses said. “Really pleased for Luke to score a hat-trick but some of the approach work for his team mates also need to be praised. We hit the track on Tuesday and prepare for our next game against Carramar Shamrock Rovers.”
In the late game at the venue UWA Nedlands and Carramar Shamrock Rovers drew 2-2. Rovers raced to a 2-0 goal lead after only 15 minutes, with a double from Chris Williams, before a brace from Matt Hatton earned Ale Carciotto’s side a share of the spoils. “They came out all guns blazing with some good direct football and with an early goal from a counter attack and a second from deflected header,” Carciotto said. “Not an ideal start for a much refreshed first team squad, with lots a young and up and coming side. A change in formation to give us a bit more depth and width to try and limit their fullbacks charging forward seem to work and gave us a bit more room in the middle to give our playmakers more room in the middle. The second half saw us come together as the team’s determination not to lose along with some sharp finishing from Matt (Hatton) allowed us to claw back and draw and made for an interesting last 10 minutes where the result could have gone anyway so a draw was a fair result.”
GLORY LET IT SLIP IN THE CAPITAL
Perth Glory have played out a six-goal thriller against Canberra United in week nine of the Liberty Women’s A-League at Viking Park on Saturday afternoon. It could have been a lot better for Alex Epakis’ side who led 3-1 with only 11 minutes remaining, so it must go down as two points lost, and it drops them out of the top four. Grace Maher gave the hosts the lead from the spot early, but Cyera Hintzen levelled in the shadows of half time. Liz Anton added a second just after the hour, and it looked all over when Hintzen added her second on 70 minutes. But the hosts hit back and Chelsee Washington pulled one back on 79 minutes, before Lauren Keir levelled five minutes later to give both sides a point.
Epakis was frustrated that they were unable to secure the three points which would have seen them climb back into the top four. “It feels like two points dropped,” he said post-match. “In the first ten minutes, they [Canberra] were on top and in the last ten minutes, they were on top, but everything in between, we were the better team. There were certainly a lot of elements which showcased how we want to play and our identity and our style and I think we recovered really well from conceding the early goal to stamp our authority on the match.
“I’m really happy and positive about that, but we’ve just got to do it consistently for 90 minutes. I also felt that some of the refereeing decisions today were comical… and really assisted the other team to get back into the game. Ultimately there needs to be some accountability to ensure that the quality is maintained with the referees because everyone else’s quality is assessed; coaches and players.”
The hosts were ahead on six minutes, referee Isabella Blaess pointing to the spot after Natasha Rigby was adjudged to have fouled Allira Toby in the box, and Maher fired home the resulting penalty. It was a bitter blow for Epakis’ side but they did lift the tempo and pressed for the equaliser which duly arrived in the final minute of the half, the lively Hana Lowry finding Hintzen just inside the box whose shot on the turn flashed low past Keeley Richards.
Canberra began the second half well, with Lowry doing well to clear a Grace Maher in-swinging corner off the line, and that clearance proved vital, as the Glory hit the front on the hour. Lowry’s corner caused a scramble in the United penalty area, and Anton reacted quickest to fire home the loose ball. Glory looked to take control and it wasn’t long before it was 3-1. The hard-working Hintzen capitalising on some poor Canberra defending to claim her second goal of the game and her fourth in as many games. The host looked down and out, but somehow, they found a way back through Washington’s header and in a dramatic finale they snatched a last-gasp equaliser. Maher’s free-kick was nodded across the face of goal by Allyson Haran and Keir was on hand to prod home from point-blank range.
Canberra United: GK Keeley RICHARDS, (RGK Chloe LINCOLN 73'), 2 Emma ILIJOSKI, 3 Mikayla VIDMAR (11 Chloe MIDDLETON 85'), 5 Lauren KEIR, 6 Laura HUGHES, 7 Chelsee WASHINGTON, 10 Grace MAHER, 12 Allira TOBY (8 Margot ROBINNE 62') 20 Hayley TAYLOR-YOUNG (14 Ashleigh SYKES 46'), 23 Michelle HEYMAN, 25 Allyson HARAN – Subs not used: 17Sasha GROVE
Perth Glory: GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 5 Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 11 Lisa DE VANNA (9 Demi KOULIZAKIS 56'), 15 Cyera HINTZEN (21 Aideen KEANE 73'), 17 Abbey GREEN (12 Sofia SAKALIS 75'), 18 Sadie LAWRENCE (13 Sarah CAIN 56'), 26 Mie LETH JANS - Subs not used: RGK Courtney NEWBON - Referee: Isabella Blaess
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK TWO PREVIEW
We head into week two of the NPLWA Night Series, with games on Friday and Saturday evening at three venues across the metropolitan area. First on Group B, Stirling Macedonia will look to continue their superb start, when they host Bayswater City at Macedonia Park on Friday. (6.30) Ian Ferguson’s side thrashed Floreat Athena last week to start their life back on the NPL with a bang, while on the other hand Bayswater were beaten by ECU Joondalup by the odd goal, and midfielder Jason Mirco said it was a slow start, but they ended the game well and were unlucky not to come away with at least a point. “Last Friday’s match was not the result we aimed for leading up to the match, we were a little slow out the blocks in the first half and we were punished for it,” he explained. “We approached the second half differently and paid more attention to detail in our defence shape and it showed. We pulled back two goals and were unlucky not to have won it.”
Mirco said Stirling showed the league they mean business with an emphatic win against Floreat, and he is expecting another stern test at Macedonia Park. “It’s fantastic having Stirling back in the NPL, great club that has produced some great memories over the years in WA Football,” Mirco said. “They had a fantastic comeback last week and for sure we will treat them like any other opponents this season and that’s not to take anyone lightly. Gareth (Naven) and John (Walmsley) have us working towards a certain style of play and we’ll constantly improve in the lead up to the season launch.” In Friday’s other game at the venue Floreat Athena and Gwelup Croatia will look to bounce back after first up defeats, when they meet in the late game. (8.30pm)
The final game in Group B is on Saturday evening at Inglewood Stadium, when Perth Glory take on ECU Joondalup. (5.00pm) Both these sides won their opener, Adam Zimarino’s penalty securing a win for Glory, while it was a Daryl Nicol hat-trick which saw ECU beat Bayswater. Skipper Alex Healing said it was a good workout for the squad, and happy to start the tournament with a win, but he is expecting another tough test against the Glory youngsters “Great win for the lads against Bayswater, the first 45 minutes might be the best I’ve seen ECU play since joining.
“Our movement and passing was a joy to behold and we totally dominated. Couldn’t quite keep it up for the full 90, but the younger lads who came on second half did a great job in securing the three points,” he said. “Glory should be another good game, not too familiar with how they are looking this year yet, but playing them is always a good benchmark to see how well we can keep the ball. We want to be up at the top this year again so starting well in the night series is always a bonus.”
The Group A games kick off on Friday evening when Balcatta take on Armadale at Dorrien Gardens. (6.30) Balcatta were beaten last week by Perth SC, while Armadale conceded late to draw 1-1 with Inglewood United, so both sides will be pushing for their first win in the competition. Armadale keeper Michael Craggs was kept busy in the first half, but he said they have taken a great deal from the performance. “Some Angel (Andres) magic to get us in front but we were disappointed to concede in the last minute of normal time. I’ll put my hand up in saying that I didn't deal with the freekick as I should have, but the boys played a great game and didn't deserve that right at the end. I thought we looked great, really good foundations for us to build upon going forward, thought our new acquisitions have slotted in perfectly so should be an existing season.”
Craggs said the Night Series is a great opportunity for clubs to play different players and try a few things, and even though Balcatta lost their first game, Friday will be another important step for his side as they prepare for the new season. “We are moving along nicely and yes Balcatta lost last week, but it’s hard to completely judge a team off one result and we will won't be judging Balcatta on that result either. We will be going into the game the same way that we did Inglewood and if we put that performance or better on Friday, we should come away with three points.”
Also on Friday, Perth SC hosts Cockburn City in the late game at the venue. The Cockerels will be licking their wounds after a heavy loss against Sorrento, and they will come up against their former assistant coach Dale Wingell, who along with his brother and head coach Marc, saw their chargers secure a first up win against Balcatta. The final game on the group sees Night Series holders Inglewood United host Sorrento on Saturday at Inglewood Stadium. (8.30pm) Andreas Oliveira’s side needed a late Egide Ngendkumana goal to snatch a draw with Armadale, while Sorrento produced a five star show to beat Cockburn, with Dean Cummings and Chris Jackson bagging doubles.
Jackson, who will come up against his former club this week, said it was a good start to the pre-season competition, and they will need to be at their best against a good Inglewood side. “Yes, 5-0 is an excellent win to get us started, and hopefully we can continue that sort of performance on Saturday,” the striker explained. “The first Night Series game is always a difficult one, as no one knows what to expect from either team. I thought we continued where we left off the season last year and that’s good with new faces in the team and also new management. I only saw the result of their game (Inglewood’s 1-1 draw with Armadale), so I can’t really comment to much on them. As I said before, it was the first game and you’re not sure what to expect from some teams.”
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES – WEEK ONE PREVIEW
The 2022 State League Night Series starts this weekend, with 24 teams competing in six groups, from Wanneroo to Bunbury. The top sides in each group will progress to the Quarter Finals, with the two best runners-up also progressing to the knockout stage of the competition. First in Group A on Friday evening, Forrestfield United welcome newly promoted Murdoch University Melville to Hartfield Park in the early game. (6.30pm) New coach Richard Abrams has been busy in the transfer market as the club look for a return to the NPL, and he is expecting a tough first up game. “The game on Friday night won’t be an easy one, and I’m expecting a good contest as Taki (Nicolaidis) will be very well organised as usual and we are in the early days of blending together a fresh-looking squad,” Abrams explained. “We are keen to make a good start especially being game one, at home and with many club debutants on display it is a special night for them whatever the result.” In the late game at the venue, we have a local Derby, with Canning City taking on Gosnells City. (8.30pm)
The Group B games are also on Friday evening, and we have two Northern Derby’s at Wanneroo Reserve, and first up Wanneroo City hosts Quinns. (6.30pm) Both sides had good seasons in their respective divisions, so this one should be a cracking first up game. The late game at the venue sees Division One Top Four winners Joondalup United meet Kingsley Westside. (8.30pm) Kingsley reached the Top Four Finals for the first time in their history, so go into the new season with renewed optimism, likewise Joondalup who finished last season on a high. Head Coach Nick Jennings said it should be a cracking first up encounter. “It’s a fixture that I’m sure both clubs are looking forward to,” he said. “There is a rivalry between the two sides going back into Sunday Division Two days, the games are always hotly contested and normally produce goals and I’m sure this Friday night will be no different.”
We head to Hay Park in Bunbury on Saturday evening for the Group C games, and first up newly promoted South West Phoenix host Curtin University. (5.00pm) Nick Carter led the Phoenix to the Amateur Premier League title last season, and he will be looking to start life back in the State League with three points, but I’m sure Curtin will have other ideas. Carter said the South West club is relishing hosting the group, and knows they will in for a challenge. “We’re excited to get our second hit out of our pre-season, and it’s an honour to host the Night Series in Bunbury,” he said. “Curtin have recruited well this year so it will be another good test for us, and a chance for us to rotate some players and get more minutes in the bank.” In the late game at the venue Rockingham City, who were relegated from the NPL last season, take on last season’s Night Series winners Mandurah City. (7.00pm)
Then on Saturday evening relegated Swan United take on Fremantle City in the early Group D game at Hartfield Park. (5.00pm) Both sides will be hoping to start their 2022 campaign with a win, so this one should be a tight affair, while in the late game Morley Windmills meet Western Knights. (7.00pm) The Knights have a new man at the helm, with Adam Kostrencic taking over from Ivan Zuvela, and he will be looking to start with a good performance, but they will face a new-look Morley side. Windmills Head Coach Antony said the quality opposition they have in the group is great preparation for the season ahead. “As a club we couldn't be happier with the night series draw in assisting in our preparations, three quality teams starting with a well organised and coached Western Knights side,” he explained. “The boys and the whole coaching team and club, are very much looking forward to getting a feeling of our progression against one of the Division One title favourites. We've got a young and talented side and will do our best to put in a solid first game performance. I know Adam very well and I'm sure this will be a good game for the crowd to enjoy also.”
In Group E on Saturday evening Olympic Kingsway open their campaign in the early game against Balga at Kingsway Reserve. (5.00pm) David Tough has been busy in the transfer market, as the club look for a return to top flight football for the first time since 1999. Tough said it is a big first up game against Balga, who are well coached, and have a young side who can cause them problems. “Yes, we’ve had a very busy off season rebuilding the squad with a number of comings and goings, and the lads have worked extremely hard in preseason and I’ve seen some very positive signs in our friendly matches,” Tough explained. “Everyone involved with the club is looking forward to the start of the night series and the season as a whole. I’m expecting a young well organised Balga team on Saturday, but for our part we’re hoping to continue to build our match fitness throughout our squad.” In the late game at the venue Goran Stajic takes charge of his first game as Subiaco Head Coach, when they take on Joondalup City. (7.00pm)
Finally in Group F newly promoted Dianella White Eagles open up their campaign against relegated Ashfield in the early game at Frank Drago Reserve on Saturday. (5.00pm) Ashfield slipped into Division Two after a disappointing season, but knowing Head Coach Greg Hart, they will be looking to bounce back, and a good start to the Night Series will be a huge plus. The Eagles raced to the Division Two title last season, with Bobby Despotovski and Stewart Moses assembling a talented squad, and they have added more quality this season. Moses said the club are looking forward to getting their season underway. “It’s the start of a new season and the boys are really looking forward to it,” he said. “We’ve worked hard in pre-season and the new players are fitting in nicely, and with this being our first hit out we know it will be a tough game, but we can’t wait to get started.” In the late game at the venue UWA Nedlands take on Carramar Shamrock Rovers. (7.00pm)
PERTH REDSTAR FC FORMED AFTER MERGER
After months of speculation the merger between ECU Joondalup and Northern Redbacks was confirmed today, the club being known as Perth RedStar FC. ECU President Mark Donnelly and Redbacks WSC President Tony Mullen have worked hard to get the merger through, and its exciting times ahead for all involved. The Redbacks have been one of the most successful clubs in women’s football in WA, winning the Premier League on 15 occasions, and nine State League Cups. ECU were formed in 1992 and won their first Premier League title in 1999, and won it for a second time, the first in the NPLWA era, in 2020. They have also produced a number of players who have gone on to play overseas and represent the Socceroos.
At today’s announcement, they unveiled the new name, logo and kit for the season, and new Perth RedStar General Manager Simon Hicks said the merger will make the club a force in men’s, women’s and Junior football in WA. “Building on our strategy to grow through holistic and progressive youth development under Director of Football Kenny Lowe, Perth RedStar FC will continue to encourage new talent-based ability, skill, desire and passion for the game,” Hicks said.
“In August 2020, ECU became the first WA cub to abolish registration fees for young footballers playing in their NPL Academy. Bringing together around 60 years of football development in Perth, the RedStar’s are in a unique position to become the premier youth development club for football in WA – both for girls and boys. Women’s football is a big part of the future of the game in Australia, with interest likely to skyrocket when the Commonwealth Matildas compete in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year, and even more girls discover a love for the game.”
It's a new era for the present, but the announcement today is tinged with sadness, for a number of former members, coaches and players, but it is a huge investment in the game, and I’m sure everyone would congratulate Mark and the rest of the new ECU committee and wish Kenny Lowe and the players all the best in future. The new club will also pay tribute to Danny Hodgson (#DH7) The striker is still recovering in hospital following an attack at Perth Train Station in September last year. Danny and #DH7 will also feature in the RedStar’s plans to establish a new purpose-built home ground in Perth’s northern corridor. “These are exciting times for our player, our club and our game as we look forward to helping young people chase their football dreams,” Hicks added.
UNDERMANNED GLORY EDGED OUT BY WANERERS
An undermanned Perth Glory side have been beaten 1-0 by Western Sydney Wanderers in Wednesday’s Isuzu Ute Men’s A-League clash at the Commbank Stadium. The only goal of the game came midway through the first half, with former Everton and Manchester City striker Jack Rodwell finding the bottom corner of the net. Glory fought to the end, but struggled in the final third, especially in the second half, and they couldn’t find the equaliser, the loss saw the Wanderers leapfrog Richard Garcia’s side, leaving the Glory tenth.
“There were very encouraging signs,” Garcia said post-match. “We had two debutants tonight, two young WA boys… who did very well, I thought. It’s always going to be difficult when you’ve got five of your starters out from the last game after they performed so well. I thought there were some really good patches in the game where the guys kept the ball really well, but we just lacked that little bit of killer instinct in the final third. That’s something we can learn from and take into Sunday against Melbourne City.”
With skipper Brandon O’Neill, Bruno Fornaroli, Dean Sturridge, Jack Clisby and Mitch Oxborrow unavailable due to covid, Garcia swung the changes, bringing in former Bayswater City midfielder Giordano Colli for his A-League starting debut, while on the bench defender Jacob Young, son of former Glory striker Stuart, was thrown straight into the squad, after the 21-year-old signed for the rest of the season.
In front of a sparse crowd for new Wanderers’ coach Mark Rudan’s first game in charge, it was the Glory who almost silenced them on 11 minutes with a great opportunity. Antonee Burke-Gilroy was the provider, racing down the right and his low cross found Spanish striker Sardinero, who was in on goal, but he fired straight at fellow-Spaniard Tomas Mejias in the Wanderers goal. The hosts hit back and the lively Kejiro Ogawa cut in from the left, but his shot flew wide of the target.
But the hosts’ pressure was rewarded with the opener on 26 minutes. Some neat build up play saw Thomas Aquilani low cross from the right picked out Rodwell, and he unerringly found the bottom corner, giving Cameron Cook no chance. Burke-Gilroy was a constant threat down the right, and just before the break his long-range shot stung the palms of Meijas, the hosts going in one to the good.
Former Socceroo James Troisi was bossing the middle of the park, and two minutes after the break he slipped Ogawa in on goal, but the Japanese striker was unable to hit the target from a tight angle. Rodwell then fired wide as the Wanderers lifted the tempo, before Aquilani blazed over the bar after cutting in from the left. Garcia brought on Young for his debut eight minutes from time, and the hosts looked nervous in the final ten minutes, but despite the best efforts of lively substitutes Pacifique Niyongabire and Daniel Stynes, Glory couldn’t find a way through.
New Wanderers coach Mark Rudan was delighted to get the win for the players and supporters “Really happy for the players, the staff and the fans,” Rudan said post-match. “I’m most pleased about the effort and behaviour of the players. First thing I spoke about is what this club stands for and its values and the people that represent the area. We need to be an attachment to them, and it was important that the performance showed that, at least.” Glory return to action on Sunday by taking on Melbourne City at AAMI Park.
Western Sydney Wanderers: GK Tomas MEJIAS, 2 Zygmunt GORDON, 3 Adama TRAORE (13 Tate RUSSELL 87'), 5 Jack RODWELL, 8 Steven UGARKOVIC, 10 Tomer HEMED (9 Bernie IBINI-ISEI 61'), 11 Kejiro OGAWA (23 Dimitri PETRATOS 80'), 14 James TROISI (36 Alessandro LOPANE 87'), 17 Keanu BACCUS, 22 John KOUTROUMBIS, 39 Thomas AQUILINA - Subs not used: RGK Daniel MARGUSH, 6 Tass MOURDOUKOUTAS, 29 Terry ANTONIS
Perth Glory: GK Cameron COOK, 5 Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS (2 Aaron CALVER 58'), 6 Osama MALIK, 7 Adrian SARDINERO, 8 Kosuke OTA (25 Jacob YOUNG 82'), 10 Andy KE0GH (24 Pacifique NIYONGABIRE 67'), 19 Callum TIMMINS, 21 Antonee BURKE-GILROY, 22 Josh RAWLINS, 26 Giordano COLLI (18 Daniel STYNES 58'), 29 Darryl LACHMAN - Subs not used: RGK Liam REDDY, 16 Darko STANOJEVIC - Referee: Alireza Faghani
SOCCEROOS STUMBLE IN WORLD CUP QUALIFICATION
The Socceroos automatic Qatar World Cup qualification hangs in the balance after conceding a late penalty to draw 2-2 with Oman in Muscat. On Wednesday morning. Former Perth Glory striker Jamie Maclaren had given Graham Arnold’s side the lead at the break, also from the spot, but Abdullah Fawaz levelled for the hosts early in the second half. Aaron Mooy restored the lead 11 minutes from time, and it seemed to have secured the vital three points, but Fawaz added his second three minutes from time to give both sides a share of the spoils.
The result means Australia are three-points behind second-placed Japan with two games to play in the third stage of Asian qualifying for Qatar 2022. Japan inflicted group leader Saudi Arabia's first defeat of the campaign earlier on Tuesday in Saitama, so it means Australia have to beat the Samurai Blue in Sydney on March 24 to have any hope of securing one of the two automatic qualifying spots.
“The players are dead silent,” coach Graham Arnold said post- match. “I just said to them, I’m a little bit disappointed with the sloppiness at times and the physical side of things, but overall, we’ve just got to get on with it. Pick yourselves up, get back to your clubs, work hard, get healthy and we look forward to the Japan game. I’ve still got a load of belief in the boys. At the end of the day, everything is still in our own hands. We have to win both games, and beating Japan and Saudi Arabia away, our goal difference is like an extra point.”
Australia went into the match without Riley McGree after the attacking midfielder tested positive to COVID-19 but were dominate early, and after Perth-born Trent Sainsbury's early header was disallowed for offside, the Socceroos hit the front on nine minutes. Martin Boyle brought down a Jackson Irvine ball brilliantly, before he was clattered by the Omani goalkeeper Ahmed Al-Rawahi and referee Mohammed Abdulla Hassan pointed to the spot. Maclaren converted from the resulting penalty, his second goal in a week for the Socceroos.
Oman, who were also missing several players due to a COVID-19 outbreak in their squad, came out firing in the second-half and equalised on 54 minutes, with a stunner from Fawaz. The midfielder was given too much time on the edge of the box, and he made the Socceroos pay, with a powerful shot into the top corner which gave Mat Ryan no chance. Australia pushed forward in response and appeared to have claimed a vital win when Mooy swept home his first goal in over two years for the Socceroos in 11 minutes from time.
But Jubilation turned to heartbreak however when Fran Karacic produced a clumsy challenge on Omani substitute Muhsen Al-Ghassani, and Fawaz sent Ryan the wrong way from the penalty spot. It was bitter blow for the side, but they have to turn these sorts of results into wins, the 2-2 draw was their third draw of the campaign in eight matches and has left no margin for error heading into the last two matches against Japan and the Saudis. With Japan to play last-placed Vietnam at home in their final match and Saudi Arabia away to struggling China in their other remaining fixture, it's almost certain Arnold's men will have to qualify via the playoff route with anything less than two wins.
Captain Mat Ryan said the players gave it their all but they now have to focus on Japan in March. “I’m very disappointed. We came here, we prepared well, and at the end of the day it’s not good enough to (not) take something away from the game,” he explained. “It’s not the first time it’s happened this campaign. We’ve got to learn from it, there’s still possibilities, and we’ll keep giving everything we’ve got. When you face a bit of hardship, it’s all about how you respond. That’s got to be the focus now.”
Oman: GK Faiyz AL RUSHEIDI, 3 Fahmi SAID, 4 Arshad AL-ALAWI, 6 Ahmed AL-KHAMISI, 7 Khalid AL-HAJRI (20 Marwan AWLAD WADI 81’), 10 Omer AL-FAZARI (11 Muhsen AL GHASSANI 46’), 12 Abdullah FAWAZ, 14 Amjad AL HARTH (I9 Aiman DHAHI 71’), 16 Mataz SALEH, 17 Munzer AL-ALAWI (15 Mohammed AL AMRI 92’), 21 Abdulaziz AL-GHEILANI (19 Mahmoud AL-MUSHAIFRI 46’) - Subs not used: RGK Ahmed AL-RAWAHI, RGK Ibrahim AL MUKHAINI, 2 Juma AL HABSI, 5 Amran AL HIDI, 23 Harib AL-SAADI
Socceroos: GK Mat RYAN 2 Milos DEGENEK, 5 Fran KARACIC, 6 Martin BOYLE, 7 Mathew LECKIE (19 Craig GOODWIN 73’), 9 Jamie MACLAREN (15 Mitchell DUKE 62’), 13 Aaron MOOY (8 James JEGGO 85’), 16 Aziz BEHICH, 20 Trent SAINSBURY (3 Ryan MCGOWAN 85’), 22 Jackson IRVINE, 23 Tomas ROGIC (10 Ajdin HRUSTIC 62’) - Subs not used: RGK Andrew REDMAYNE, RGK Danny VUKOVIC, 4 Rhyan GRANT, 11 Brandon BORRELLO, 14 Joel KING, 17 Connor METCALFE, 21 Marco TILIO – Referee: Mohammed Abdulla Hassan
GLORY THREADBARE AHEAD OF WESTERN SYDNEY CLASH
Perth Glory will have to scrape together a side for tomorrow’s men’s clash with Western Sydney Wanderers after being decimated by COVID-19. The A-League club have lost a host of stars including marquee signing Daniel Sturridge, leading goalscorer Bruno Fornaroli, captain Brandon O’Neill, and new signings Mitch Oxborrow and Jack Clisby.
If Glory lose one or two more players the game could be in danger of being postponed and it is already unlikely that any of the affected players will be ready for Sunday’s game against Melbourne City. Players have been coming out of quarantine for the past two days and a couple more will join them tomorrow but Glory will still be at least seven players short for the game in Sydney.
Coach Richard Garcia admitted Glory would only just fill the match day squad. “We are pretty much just just making a bench, just enough to play the game,” said Garcia, who won’t be taking any risks by rushing players back in to the match day squad. “We’ve got to be very careful with the guys coming out.”
“Not only the ones that had COVID but the (close contacts) that have come out of seven days isolation. Not only for us going forward but for their health and safety. Guys eventually coming back from COVID will be on limited minutes. Three or four got out and have to be medically cleared by doctors and the league before they can start training. Another couple get out Wednesday.”
Former England and Liverpool striker Sturridge, who was released from isolation today, was one of the players hit particularly hard. “It’s going to take him a little while to come back round,” Garcia said. “He’s very eager to get back out there. It’s just a matter of us making sure he’s fit enough to compete for a long period of time.”
Veteran striker Andy Keogh, who is going through a long goal drought and has played just three matches this season after injuring his calf in round one, will have a big workload against Western Sydney. “Andy’s going to have to push himself to the extreme,” Garcia said. “We’ve told him to go as hard as he can for as long as he can.”
Garcia said further restrictions could not be placed on his players, who have endured a difficult start to the season that has included 14 days in quarantine and the postponement of several fixtures leading to a 43-day gap between games. “I don’t think we can (place further restrictions on the players),” he said. “Everyone has been following protocols.”
“The boys have been wearing masks, trying to avoid busy places, but outside staying in their rooms there’s not a lot more we can ask. We’re in a hotel so there’s people coming in and out from all over. We are going to be travelling soon which will be airports again. We can’t avoid those situations.”
GLORY HIT BACK LATE TO STUN THE PHOENIX
Perth Glory have produced a stunning late fightback to beat Wellington Phoenix 3-2 in their Womens A-League clash in Blacktown on Monday afternoon. Sofia Sakalis had given Alex Epakis’ the lead early, but goals from Grace Jale and Chloe Knott saw the Phoenix lead at the break, as they searched for their first ever win in the competition. Glory pressed for the equaliser and created a number of chances, and they were rewarded nine minutes from time when substitute Cyera Hintzen levelled. Things got better seven minutes later for the ladies in purple, with Mie Leth Jans firing home the winner. There was a sour note from the victory with the influential Gemma Craine breaking her wrist, but the three points did move Glory into the top four on the ladder.
“I’m really happy with the fact that we found a way to win that game,” a delighted Epakis said post-match. “That’s the sign of a healthy team when you don’t play well and find a way to get a result and in terms of the context of the season, of where we want to be and where we want to finish, that was a result we needed. In terms of the performance, we were really flat in the first half and it was a bit disappointing to start the game in that way. We said what we had to say at half-time, the players said what they needed to say, we cleared the air and we refocused. In the second half we showed a lot more energy and enough to get the three points.”
The coach selected the same side that beat Western Sydney Wanderers last time out and had Demi Koulizakis and Hintzen returning from injury to claim spots on the bench. It was a tight opening with clear cut chances few and far between but on 14 minutes Glory found the opener. Abbey Green was sent down the left and her cross on the run found Sakalis, and the teenagers shot deflected off Kate Taylor and nestled in the back of the net.
But six minutes later the Phoenix were level, Alyssa Whinham through ball found Jale who finished clinically past Morgan Aquino. The goal lifted the Phoenix and Chloe Knott fired over the top when well placed on the half hour, and six minutes from the break they hit the front. An error from the Glory keeper was seized upon by Knott, who clipped the ball into an empty net. Glory looked to hit back before the break, and Sakalis’ cross was almost turned into her own net by Phoenix defender Hannah Jones late, but at half time the Phoenix led and Glory had it all to do.
Glory brought on Craine at the break, replacing Sakalis, and she was soon in the action, getting on the end of a Deborah-Anne de La Harpe cut back, but English striker could only find the side netting. Glory went close again just after the hour mark, Craine was the supplier this time, her cross picked out Hana Lowry, but her header failed to find the target. Epakis’ side had defiantly upped the tempo, but they suffered a huge blow on 71 minutes, with Craine injuring her wrist and the striker left the field in a great deal of pain, replaced by Sarah Cain.
Liz Anton headed over the top as Glory pressed for the equaliser, and moments later the former Glory custodian Lily Alfeld pushed Lowry’s free kick on to the crossbar, and Koulizakis’ follow up shot flew over the top. It looked like it wasn’t going to be Glory’s night, but on 81 minutes their pressure was rewarded with the leveller. Koulizakis’ persistence in the box enabled Leth Jans to dink in a cross which Hintzen headed home at the back post. They were now looking for the winner and it duly arrived two minutes from time. De la Harpe’s deep cross caused a scramble in the Phoenix box, and Leth Jans reacted quickest to sweep the loose ball into the net to seal the win.
Perth Glory: GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 5 Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 11 Lisa DE VANNA (9 Demi KOULIZAKIS 74'), 12 Sofia SAKALIS (24 Gemma CRAINE 46') (13 Sarah CAIN 74'), 17 Abbey GREEN (15 Cyera HINTZEN 58'), 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 26 Mie LETH JANS - Subs not used: RGK Courtney NEWBON
Wellington Phoenix: GK Lily ALFELD, 3 Kate TAYLOR, 4 Mackenzie BARRY, 7 Chloe KNOTT, 8 Grace WISNEWSKI, 9 Ava PRITCHARD (19 Charlotte LANCASTER 89'), 10 Grace JALE, 15 Zoe MCMEEKEN, 16 Hannah JONES (6 Isabel GOMEZ 66'), 17 Talitha KRAMER, 20 Alyssa WHINHAM (2 Saskia VOSPER 78') - Subs not used: RGK Brianna EDWARDS, 18 Annabel MARTIN - Referee: Rachel Mitchenson
MATILDAS SHOCK EXIT FROM ASIAN CUP
The 2022 AFC Asian Cup campaign for the Matildas has come to a shock end after a 0-1 defeat against Korea Republic at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon. Despite creating a number of chances, the Matildas couldn’t find the breakthrough, while the Koreans missed a first half penalty and were thwarted on a number of occasions by Matildas’ keeper Lydia Williams. Former Perth Glory striker Sam Kerr had a day off in front of goal, and it was her Chelsea teammate Ji So-Yun who fired home the winner three minutes from time to send Tony Gustavsson’s side home.
“I’m happy (for people) to criticise me, which I think is fair, but I also think that to do that by looking at the performance as well so it’s a fair criticism,” Gustavsson said post-match. “Criticise me for what I could’ve done better because that’s what the game is about. I’ve been around the game long enough for two decades to know it’s going to be on me now and I take full ownership of that. Obviously, I am going to look at what I could have done differently as well. It’s a little bit too early to say that I could have done differently.”
The Matildas were on the front foot early and produced two great chances in the opening ten minutes. First on seven minutes Emily van Egmond played Kerr through in on goal, but the Chelsea shot was blocked. Moments later, a long ball from Kyah Simon found Kerr rushing behind the defence again, but her chip from the edge of the box flashed well wide. It was one-way traffic and on 18 minutes Mary Fowler raced on to Kerr flick, but Kim Jung-Mi produced a great save to deny her.
Kerr went close again two minutes later, Steph Catley’s set piece, found the striker, but her powerful header crashed off the post. Fowler then fired wide as the Matildas pressed for the opener, but it was Korea Republic who should have taken the lead on 34 minutes when they were awarded a controversial penalty. With Matildas Catley on the floor after a head injury the referee played on and Lee Geum-Min fell in the box under a challenge from Caitlin Foord, and after a long view of the incident with VAR referee Liang Qin pointed to the spot, much to the frustration of Matildas coaching staff and players. Spurs midfielder and Korea captain Cho So-hyun stepped up to take the resulting penalty but blasted the penalty over the bar.
Both sides had late chances, first Kerr header was saved by Jung-Mi, before So-Yun shot flew over the top, but at the break it was all-square. It was Korea Republic who opened the better after the break and went close to the opener five minutes in. Geum-min raced through from a Choe Yu-Ri through ball, but Williams stood tall and produced a point-blank save to deny her. Williams was called in to action again four minutes later, Kim Hye-Ri sending Cho So-Hyun clear but the Matildas custodian made a smart save low to her left.
The game was in the balance and on the hour Gustavsson, who was having a running battle with Korean Republic’s English coach Colin Bell on the sideline, made a change bringing on the lively Cortnee Vine, and the Matildas began to dictate terms again. Foord fired wide, before Fowler’s goalbound effort was well blocked. Moments later Catley was pulled back in the penalty area, but somehow the referee and VAR missed it.
Kerr’s shot on the turn flashed wide, before Vine header failed to hit the target. But on 75 minutes the Matildas should have scored. Vine raced down the right and pulled the ball back to an unmarked Kerr, but the all-time Australian top-scorer could not adjust her feet in time and shot horribly wide from eight-meters. That miss came back to haunt the Matildas and three minutes from time Korean Republic won it.
So-Yun cut in from the left and unleashed a powerful shot into the top corner giving Williams no chance. There was still time for the Matildas to send the game into extra time, Kerr shot from the edge of the box was diverted off a Korean Republic defender the ball heading to substitute Hayley Raso, but she couldn’t divert the ball home at the back post. For the Matildas, who won the title for the first time in 2010 and reached the final in both 2014 and 2018, the result was humbling.
Steph Catley said they are devastated. “It’s a tough one, just devastated to be honest. Standing here I don’t really know how we’ve come out the losers in that game,” she said post-match. “We had so many chances. Sometimes football can be cruel, this is where we need to be better. We’re a team full of world class players and we keep coming up short in moments like this. As a team we’ve got to be better, we’ve got to be dominant in these situations and put games to bed.”
Matildas – GK Lydia WILLIAMS, 4 Clare POLKINGHORNE, 6 Clare WHEELER (5 Cortnee VINE 56’ (16 Hayley RASO 90’), 7 Stephanie CATLEY, 9 Caitlin FOORD (15 Emily GIELNIK 92’), 10 Emily VAN EGMOND, 11 Mary FOWLER, 14 Alanna KENNEDY, 17 Kyah SIMON, 20 Sam KERR, 21 Ellie CARPENTER – Subs not used: RGK Mackenzie ARNOLD, RGK Teagan MICAAH, 2 Courtney NEVIN, 3 Aivi LUIK, 8 Charlotte GRANT, 22 Holly MCNAMARA, 19 Kyra COONEY-CROSS, 23 Remy SIEMSEN
Korean Republic: GK Kim JUNG-MI, 2 Choo HYO-JOO, 4 Shim SEO-JEON, 6 Lim SEON-JOO, 8 Cho SO-HYUN, 10 Ji SO-YUN (15 Park YEE-UN 90’), 11 Choe YU-RI (7 Lee MI-NA 77’), 13 Lee GEUM-MIN, 17 Lee YOUNG-JU, 20 Kim HYE-RI, 23 Son HWA-YEON (9 Yeo MIN-JI 84’) - Subs not used: RGK Kang GA-AE, RGK Yoon YOUNG-GUEL, 3 Seo JI-YEON, 5 Hong HYE-JI, 12 Kwon HAH-NUL, 14 Cho MI-JIN, 21 Sung-Mi KIM, 22 Lee JEONG-MIN - Referee: Liang Qin
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK ONE REVIEW
The 2022 NPLWA Night Series kicked off with a bang on Friday evening with newly promoted Stirling Macedonia thrashing eight times night series winners Floreat Athena 7-3 in the late Group B game at E&D Litis Stadium. It was the hosts who started the better and raced to a two-goal lead after only 15 minutes. Nicholas Ambrogio opened the scoring after only three minutes, before new signing Robert Petkov added a second on the quarter hour mark. But it went downhill after that for Floreat, with Stirling taking a 4-2 lead into the break with goals from Alex Taneski, new signing Michael Domfeh, former Floreat defender Ryan Malton and Sam Wynne.
Taneski made it 5-2 early in the second half, before Petkov reduced the margin moments later. But former Perth Glory youth striker Taneski completed his hat-trick on 69 minutes, before Hugo Snowden added a seventh ten minutes from time to seal a comprehensive 7-3 win for Ian Ferguson’s side. “Always a big when you play against your former side especially when there is such a big rivalry between the two clubs,” Malton said. “I think all the boys from the starting line-up and the ones that came on could feel that and that’s what pushed us to get the win. Still a few silly mistakes made by us, which led to goals which I’m sure will be talked about and worked on the coming week. But what a great way to make a statement that Stirling Macedonia is back in the NPL.”
In the other Group B games on Friday Perth Glory edged out Gwelup Croatia in the early game at E&D Litis Stadium. The only goal of the game came seven into the second half when Adam Zimarino converted from the spot, after he was brought down. “We started off pretty slow and were a bit sloppy for majority of the first half, however we got into more of a rhythm in the second half and started to play a bit better and quicker,” Glory skipper Chris Donnell said. “It was a good result to start the Night Series but we know there’s is plenty to improve on if we want to do well, so all focus is on next week.”
ECU Joondalup started their Group B fixtures with a 3-2 win against Bayswater City at Dorrien Gardens on Friday evening. It was former Bayswater striker Daryl Nicol who was the star of the show bagging a first half hat-trick. “It was a really good start to the Night Series, considering that was our first run out together,” Nicol said. “We were very dominant in the first half, very comfortable on the ball and deservedly went in 3-0 at the break. We made some changes in the second half, due to a lack of game time for everyone, some of the lads were pulling up with injuries, and conceded two sloppy goals but overall, it was a very good display.”
Nicol opened the scoring on seven minutes, converting from the spot after Andy Higgins was brought down. He added his second on 25 minutes, racing clear and rounding the keeper to score. He completed his hat-trick seven minutes later reacted the quickest after Bayswater keeper could only parry a shot. But Bayswater hit back after the break, and new signing Jon Stynes reduced the deficit on the hour, before Steve Hesketh made it 3-2 nine minutes from time. City pressed for the equaliser but couldn’t find one. ECU keeper Joe Pollard, who has taken over from the retired Johnny Perkins, was pleased to come away with a hard-fought win. “I thought we really controlled the game and dominated for the whole first half especially considering it’s only our second game proper game as a team,” he said. “We knew at half time that Bayswater would come out in the second half a lot stronger and that they did. a tight end to the second half but we were strong enough defensively as a team to come away with the win.”
In Group A on Friday evening a new look Perth SC beat Balcatta Etna 3-1 in the early game at Dorrien Gardens. The hosts opened the scoring in first half stoppage time, with Alex Silla finding the net. Marc Wingell’s side doubled their advantage on the hour through Daniel Zivkovic, and six minutes later Shubham Mokala made it 3-0. Amir Arjan pulled one back in stoppage time, but it was Perth taking the points. “It was a great first hit out for the year, as we’ve only had intra-club matches so far so to get onto the park against an NPL opponent was a nice test,” goalscorer Silla explained. “There’s been a good vibe in training with this new bunch of boys and it definitely carried over into the match. Some great goals from us, and a reasonably comfortable victory in the end. A shame to concede so late though, a clean sheet would’ve rounded the night off nicely.”
On Saturday evening Sorrento opened up their Group A games in style, thrashing Cockburn City 5-0 in the early game at Inglewood Stadium. The Gulls were ahead early after Dean Cummings converted from the spot after only three minutes. Cummings doubled their advantage three minutes before half time, before Chris Jackson added a third seven minutes into the second half. Jackson added another four minutes later, before Alex Morgan added a fifth nine minutes from time. “Happy with the win and I thought we dominated the game throughout,” Cummings said. “Even though they had a lot of the ball they weren’t a threat, so a good win to start off, but take nothing for granted.”
In the late game at the venue Inglewood United began the defence of their Night Series title with a 1-1 draw against Armadale. The visitors opened the scoring just before the break, Gordon Perkins made space down the right and his cross on the run picked out Angel Andres who volleyed home superbly past Alex Dunn. Both sides went close in the second half Roberto del Borello hit the post before Albert Luwi shot on the run was saved low by Dunn. But two minutes from time Inglewood found the equaliser. Del Borello’s long-range free kick was parried by Michael Craggs and Egide Ngendkumana fired home the rebound
“A good workout for the whole team tonight, in our first competitive run out,” Head Coach John O’Reilly said. “Inglewood proved a challenge to us in the first 15 minutes but we adapted well and were dominant in large passages of the game. We were pleased with the overall performance, but know we still have areas of our game to continue improving. We move on to next game against Balcatta on Friday, and will continue to build for the season opener.”
MATILDAS BEAT THAILAND TO TOP GROUP B
The Matildas finished top of Group B after a second-string side beat Thailand 2-1 in the final game of the group at Mumbai Football Arena on Friday morning. Emily van Egmond opened the scoring six minutes before the break, before second half substitute Sam Kerr wrapped up the points ten minutes from time. Nipawan Panyosuk pulled one back for Thailand in stoppage time, but it was too little too late, and now Tony Gustavsson’s side will now take on South Korea on Sunday evening in the quarter-finals.
“I’m happy at how upset the team was after the game. They were upset about the goal that we conceded in injury time,” coach Tony Gustavsson said of Panyosuk late consolation goal for Thailand. “We put pride in clean sheets in this group stage and we’ve done a phenomenal job defensively – when we lose the ball we worked really, really, really hard – but the players were really upset that we conceded that goal, to not keep that clean sheet.
“That says a lot about the mission these players are on now, instead of celebrating the win, they’re upset about that one goal. We had two clear set goals for the group stage – one was to win the group, and the second was to get out of the group with as many players as possible for play-offs but also fresh and peaking in form. The fact that we have had every player on the park during the group stage is a clear signal to everyone that we need everyone in the tournament and I’m really happy everyone has been on the park.”
Gustavsson freshened up the Starting XI, with tournament debutants Holly McNamara and Cortnee Vine combining in a front three with Sydney FC striker, Remy Siemsen, with only Emily van Egmond and Stephanie Catley backing up from the 4-0 win against Philippines last time out. It was a tight opening with clear cut chances few and far between, the best falling to Clare Wheeler, whose shot on 12 minutes was saved by Tiffamy Sornpao.
Moments later Vine fired wide, and Nevin did likewise on the half hour, before Thailand went close three minutes later, Orapin Waen-Ngoen fired wide. But on 39 minutes the Matildas broke the deadlock six minutes before the break Siemsen squaring the ball to van Egmond on the edge of the box and she finished clinically. They went close to second before the break McMamara shot was blocked the rebound falling to Kyra Cooney-Cross whose shot was deflected inches past the post.
The Matildas continue to dominate and on 63 minutes, Vine raced down the right, her cross found Siemsen, whose first time shot flashed just wide of the target. Then on 80 minutes their pressure was rewarded with a second goal. It looked like little danger, when Stephanie Catley crossed into the penalty area but Thailand keeper Sornpao fumbled the ball into the path of Kerr who pounced and fired the ball into an open net.
It was nearly three when substitute Mary Fowler raced down the right her cross was sent towards goal by Waen-Ngoen, the ball bouncing off the top of the crossbar. But three minutes into stoppage time Thailand scored a consolation goal. Waen-Ngoen corner was punched clear by Lydia Williams, the ball falling to substitute Punyosuk on the edge of the box, and she lobbed the ball into the net, the Matildas conceding their first goal in the tournament
Matildas – GK Lydia WILLIAMS, 2 Courtney NEVIN, 3 Aivi LUIK, 5 Cortnee VINE (15 Emily GIELNIK 76’), 6 Clare WHEELER, 7 Stephanie CATLEY (17 Kyah SIMON 46’), 8 Charlotte GRANT, 10 Emily van EGMOND (11 Mary FOWLER 65’), 19 Kyra COONEY-CROSS, 22 Holly MCMAMARA (9 Caitlin FOORD 58’), 23 Remy SIEMSEN (20 Sam KERR 65’) – Subs not used: RGK Mackenzie ARNOLD, RGK Teagan MICAH, 4 Clare POLKINGHORNE, 14 Alanna KENNEDY, 16 Hayley RASO, 21 Elle CARPENTER
Thailand – GK Tiffamy SORNPAO, 2 Kanjanaporn SAENGKOON (13 Kanyanat CHETTHABUTR 83’), 3 Irravadee MAKRIS, 4 Pornpirun PHILAWAN, 6 Pikul KHUEANPET (8 Nipawan PUNYOSUK 46’), 7 Silawan INTAMEE (5 Amornrat UTCHAI 73’), 9 Warunee PHETWISET (21 Chatchawan RODTHONG 73’), 14 Saowalak PENGNGAM (17 Taneekarn DANGDA 83’), 15 Orapin WAEN-NGOEN, 19 Pitsamai SORNSAI, 23 Miranda NILD – Subs not used: RGK Waraporn BOONSING, RGK Chotmanee THONG-MONGKOL, 11 Jaruwan CHAIYARAK, 16 U-raiporn YONGKUL – Referee: Aye Thein Thein
SOCCEROOS BOUNCE BACK TO BEAT VIETNAM
The Socceroos recorded their first win in three Qatar World Cup qualifiers, and kept their hopes of automatic qualification spot after a 4-0 win against Vietnam at AAMI Park in Melbourne. Jamie Maclaren headed them ahead on the half hour, before Tom Rogic added a second in first half stoppage time. Craig Goodwin and Riley McGree scored their first Socceroos goals off the bench in the second half to ensure Australia remain in touch with leaders Saudi Arabia and Japan in Group B.
“Very rewarding, kind of lost for words to be honest,” Craig Goodwin said on scoring his first goal for his Country. “For me personally, it’s a great moment [to score] but there’s a lot of emotion in it. It’s a very rewarding feeling for me and my family as well. All credit to Vietnam, they second half they came out and created some chances.” With Aziz Behich unavailable, Sydney FC youngster and Olyroo Joel King started at left-back in his first cap, while Melbourne City’s Marco Tilio received a late debut off the bench. There was also a change in the dugout, assistant coach Rene Meulensteen taking the reins in Graham Arnold's COVID-19 enforced absence.
It looked like a great start for the Socceroos in the opening 25 seconds, Marin Boyle low cross from the right was played back by Maclaren and Rogic finished clinically past Bui Tan Truong. But after a VAR referral, referee Ko Hyung-jin ruled the goal out with Jackson Irvine having interfered with Vietnam goalkeeper. The home side continued to dominate and went close again when Rogic slipped Matthew Leckie in on goal, but the Vietnamese custodian stood tall to deny him. Leckie went close again on 18 minutes, his glancing header from King’s cross from the left flashed inches wide of the far post.
But their pressure was rewarded on 30 minutes, Rogic’s deep cross picked out Maclaren, whose downward header found the bottom corner of the net. Then in first half stoppage time the Socceroos doubled their advantage. Leckie was the provider, cutting in from the left and slipping the Rogic in on goal, and the Celtic midfielder made no mistake, to ensure the Socceroos had a comfortable lead at the break.
The visitors made a good start to the second half and Pham Tuan Hai shot flashed wide minutes after the restart. The Vietnamese fans were in full voice as the reds pressed, and Matt Ryan produced a reflex save to deny Nguyen Cong on the hour and four minutes later, Nguyen Thanh Chung header from close-range flashed over the top. Meulensteen made a double change after that scare with Mitch Duke and Goodwin coming off the bench, and ten minutes later it was 3-0. A long clearance from Ryan was misjudged by the Vietnam defence and Goodwin raced in on goal and coolly lobbed the oncoming Bui Tan Truong.
The Socceroos weren't done there as McGree also came off the bench to get his name on the scoresheet, firing low into the corner of the net from the edge of the box, to complete the scoring and cap a memorable night in the Socceroos' first international in Melbourne since 2017. “Can’t be more pleased. We knew it was going to be a challenge but [I was] pleased with the quality we showed at times. Most importantly [we got] the three points. We knew we needed to keep going,” Socceroos’ assistant coach René Meulensteen said post-match. “We were on constant touch with [Graham Arnold]. I know he would have been sat there and enjoyed the performance.” The Socceroos are back in action in another must-win clash against Oman, with kick-off at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat at 3am next Wednesday (AEDT).
Socceroos: GK Mat RYAN, 2 Milos DEGENEK, 5 Fran KARACIC, 6 Martin BOYLE (21 Marco TILLO 81’), 7 Matthew LECKIE (10 Craig GOODWIN 66’), 9 Jamie MACLAREN (15 Mitchell DUKE 66’), 13 Aaron MOOY (8 James JEGGO 81’), 16 Joel KING, 20 Trent SAINSBURY, 22 Jackson IRVIN, 23 Tom ROGIC (14 Riley MCGEE 74’) – Subs not used: RGK Danny VUKOVIC, RGK Andrew REDMAYNE, 3 Ryan MCGOWAN, 4 Rhyan GRANT, 11 Brandon BORRELLO, 17 Connor METCALFE, 19 Kye ROWLES
Vietnam: GK Bui Tan TRUONG, 2 Le Van XUAN (16 Nguyen Thanh CHUNG 46’), 4 Bùi Tien DUNG, 5 Pham Xuan MANH (7 Nguyen Phong Hong DUY 61’), 6 Luong Xuân TROUNG (14 Nguyen Hoàng DUC 46’), 8 Do Hung DUNG (18 Tran Minh VUONG 71’), 11 Pham Tuan HAI, 17 Vu Van THANH, 19 Nguyen Quang HAI, 20 Phan Van DUC (10 Nguyen Công PHUONG 46’), 21 Tran Dinh TRONG – Subs not used: RGK Tran Nguyen MANH, 3 Nguyen Huu TUAN, 9 To Van VU, 12 Ho Thanh MINH, 13 Ho Tan TAI, 15 Nguyen Binh THANH, 22 Nguyen Duc CHIEN – Referee: Hyung-Jin Ko – Attendance: 27,740
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES KICKS OFF THIS WEEKEND
The NPLWA Night Series kicks off this weekend with games on Friday and Saturday evening. We have two groups of six, with the top two teams from each moving into the Semi-final on Sunday 6 March, with the final taking place on Saturday 12 March at a venue to be decided. We start at Dorrien Gardens on Friday when league champions Perth SC entertain Italian rivals Balcatta Etna in the early Group A game at 6.30pm. There has been a huge turnover of players at the Azzurri this season and Marc Wingell has taken over the coaching reins from Ramon Falzon. Etna on the other hand have kept most of their players from last season and coach Michael Johnson goes into his second season at the helm. “We are looking forward to getting back into competitive games and Perth will be a good test for us,” Johnson explained. “The Night Series gives the opportunity to build for the season proper and that is the focus.”
Also, on Friday in the early game at E&D Litis Stadium Perth Glory meet Gwelup Croatia. (6.30pm) With Ruben Zadkovich away with the A League side Chris Coyne will be in the dugout, and his young side will look to start the competition with a win. Meanwhile Gwelup’s new coach Mitchell Prentice will take control of his first official game in charge of the club, and Gwelup skipper Ciaran Salinger said they have worked hard in pre-season with the new coach and are looking forward to the Night Series. “As a collective we have worked hard over the past couple of months in preparation for the first game of the Night Series and the season as a whole,” he said. “We have had some solid hit outs against other NPL teams and intra-club games that has given us a real confidence about the style of football that we as team want to implement this season, so the boys are excited and ready to go for Friday.”
In the late game at the venue newly promoted Stirling Macedonia start their campaign against hosts Floreat Athena. (8.30pm) Stirling raced to the Division One title last season and skipper Dejan Spaseski said they can’t wait to get back to playing, and what a tough first up game they have. “Despite which competition you play in, it’s always a massive occasion against our biggest rivals Floreat,” he said. “We are still in the early phase of pre-season, but are in search of nothing less than three points on Friday, and the boys are confident and we are looking strong.”
On Saturday we head to the Inglewood Stadium and in the early game Sorrento take on Cockburn City (5.00pm) Both sides will hope to kick off the tournament with a win, and both have new coaches this season. Mirco Jelko returns to the Cockerels after taking over from Scott Miller, while Trevor Morgan returns to the Gulls to replace the outgoing Jamie Harnwell. In the final game, reigning Night Series winners Inglewood United entertain Armadale. (7.00pm) Inglewood coach Andres Oliveira said they are looking forward to defending their title, but is expecting a tough opener against Armadale. “It will be a tough opener against Armadale, John has them well organised and will be a good test for us as this will be our first game of the season,” the Coach explained. “Defending any title is always difficult, but we are up for the challenge.”
PERKINS CALL TIME BETWEEN THE STICKS
ECU Joondalup and WA State keeper Johnny Perkins has decided it's time to hang up the gloves, with the 34-year-old announcing last month he would retire from the game. The Irish custodian helped the Jacks to the NPLWA title in 2020, and he said the decision to walk away from the game was a difficult one. “Yes, such a tough decision, and one that I had to take my time to consider,” Perkins explained. “Football has always been a constant in my life, even with moving to the other side of the world. I have met so many great people and made a lot of friends along the way so I'm grateful for that.”
He starred at the ECU Campus in his four-year spell, and played his part in some wins for the WA State side, but he said winning the league title with the ECU on the last day of the season was the highlight of his career. “That team played some of the best football I had been part of in my time here, and it was so enjoyable to be part of,” he said. “Clinching it on the last day of the season playing in the Joondalup City derby was pretty perfect. As for the state games, the recent win against Perth Glory was top of the list. “To be honest, I didn't have much to do but I saved the penalty at 0-0 and the team went on to win it 1-0,” Perkins added. “A win in those games is a good look for the league and it shows the talent that’s in it.
Perkins started playing in Ireland with Shamrock Rovers, before heading down under and playing for Ashfield, Stirling Lions and ECU. He has worked with many coaches along the way, but picked out ECU coach Kenny Lowe as one of the best. “Yes, I’ve been lucky to have played under great managers and more importantly great men in my time playing over here,” he explained. “Working with Kenny (Lowe) was brilliant. His knowledge of the game was huge and he was able to get it across to the players. I think he improved every player that played for him in my time under him - whether they are still at the club or not. Also being a keeper the training with Tony Franklin was always masterclass. His knowledge of the game shows why he has been the top keeper coach in Australia for so long.”
After football every Tuesday, Thursday and weekend for many years, it will be a shock to the system for Perkins, but he will have his hands full soon with a baby on the way. “It will be a shock to the system not training and playing, and we welcome our first born in April, so I will have my hands full,” he said. “So, for me it will be family time and hopefully watching some WA football as a fan.”
FORMER ARMADALE KEEPER SELECTED IN ALL WHITES SQUAD
Former Armadale shot stopper Matthew Gould has been called up to the New Zealand national squad for their upcoming games against Jordan and Uzbekistan later this month. It’s a first call up for the 28-year-old, who began his club career with New Zealand top division side Hawkes Bay United in July 2011 before moving to Alfred Skeet Reserve in February 2014 where he made 26 appearances.
Lee Bamber was coach at Armadale when they signed Gould, and he said he did a great job at the club, and he wished all the best. "We signed Matthew when I was Head Coach at Armadale, and he was a great for us and had two good seasons at Alfred Skeet," Bamber said. "It's great news for him, he has worked hard on his game and I'm delighted he has been rewarded with international football - good on him."
Gould, who also played for Cheltenham Town, Livingston, Stourbridge, Spennymoor Town and Altrincham and loan spells at Bishops Cleeve and Stenhousemuir, said he is looking forward to senior international football, and has worked hard at Altrincham. “Delighted and honoured to be selected, been a long-winded process to come back into the international fold after being selected for the under 17s 10 years ago,” he explained. “Altrincham has been a challenge to play games recently, due to the form of Tony Thompson. But hopefully, like I did in November, when I get my next opportunity, I seize it and build on my previous performances which were of a good level.”
Gould has been on the radar of All Whites Coach, and former Glory defender Danny Hay, for some time, and after Stefan Marinovic withdrew from the team after testing positive for COVID-19, he has got his chance. "Obviously, first and foremost, we wish Stefan a speedy recovery," Hay said. "Luckily, he isn’t experiencing any major symptoms and is vaccinated, so I’m sure he will be back on the pitch soon. "We have good depth in goal. Even though we are missing Stef, as well as Oli Sail recovering from injury, I have every confidence in Michael and Jamie, who were both part of our Olympic campaign. The situation also now gives us the opportunity to bring Matthew (Gould) in for the first time, someone who has been on our radar for a while."
GLORY RECORD NO NEW COVID-19 CASES
Perth Glory have breathed a sigh of relief with no new COVID-19 cases detected within their A-League men’s squad. Five players, including star signing Daniel Sturridge, are isolating in the team’s Sydney hotel after testing positive yesterday.
Glory’s Australia Day game against Macarthur Rams has been postponed under A-Leagues rules, which allows clubs to ask for a game to be called off if five players test COVID-positive. If no further cases are detected, Glory could restart their season with a late mid-week fixture next week.
KERR HONOURED WITH ORDER OF AUSTRALIA MEDAL
Sam Kerr monumental rise in football has continued after receiving an Order of Australia medal on Australia Day for her services to football. Perth born Kerr has shone in Chelsea’s Women’s Super League success and has been instrumental in Matildas rise up the rankings. She is every girl’s hero in Australia and every player wants to be the next Sam Kerr, and the striker wants to “inspire the next generation” as she attempts to lead the Matildas to AFC Asian Cup glory in India.
The Matildas captain said it was a great honour as she prepares for their final group match against Thailand in Mumbai on Friday morning. “The OAM sits right up there with one of the biggest achievements for me – it’s an amazing honour,” Kerr said. “I don’t see this award as an individual (prize). I’ve had so many people and coaches and teammates help me along this journey. Who would have thought that someone in the Matildas would receive this?”
Kerr was a teenage member of the Matildas’ squad that won the 2010 Asian Cup, the last time they achieved the feat, and she said it’s an experience she will never forget and as she was mentored 12 years ago, she wants to pass on her knowledge and experience throughout Australia’s camp in India. “To be recognised globally is an amazing honour. It’s something that I pinch myself about,” Kerr said. “I’ve tried to make as much effort, as Covid-safe as possible, with these young girls and all the staff working here at the Asian Cup, because I know what it meant to me back then. I’ve been really trying to give my time to everyone here to inspire the next generation.”
The 28-year-old Chelsea striker said there was “so much” she still wanted to achieve, and also wanted to tap into her Indian heritage to help Asian women’s football grow. “I want to win more trophies with the Matildas and with my club, but I want to continue to grow the game and change the game, and I want to reach different people in different walks of life. I think I have the opportunity to do that in Australia,” she said. “Being here in India, it’s been amazing to see the growth and how interested people are in women’s sports.
Having already booked a place in the quarter-finals in the Asian Cup, the Matildas only need a draw against Thailand to top their group, and one of the players Kerr is mentoring is young striker Cortnee Vine, who is hoping for more game time after making her Matildas debut in Australia’s 4-0 win over the Philippines. “It honestly felt amazing, it’s actually happened, so I can now say I’m a Matilda, which is mind blowing,” Vine said. “Not much went through my mind when I got out on the pitch. I feel like I’m a player that really does just play in the now. My mindset was just to go out there and just play my game and show them what I can do.”
SAGE CONSIDERS MOVING GLORY EAST
Tony Sage has revealed Perth Glory are considering moving their home games interstate if they can not return to Western Australia. The embattled club are looking at offers to move home games to Townsville, the Gold Coast or Canberra following the State government's border backflip.
“It would be a real shame playing our home games in another state but we have to plan for it,” Sage said. “We don’t want to do it ... hopefully it doesn’t come to that. It would be like selling a home game and hopefully we would get some income because we are struggling financially at the moment. It’s a plan B if the government can’t give us some assurances.”
COVID HITS PERTH GLORY
Perth Glory have confirmed that a number of its Men’s A-League players have tested positive for COVID-19. With the squad currently based in Sydney, the players and their close contacts are adhering to NSW Health directives, in close consultation with the A-Leagues. As a result of the positive tests, Wednesday’s scheduled game against Macarthur FC at Campbelltown Stadium was postponed, the clubs stating ‘The health and safety of its players and staff remains the club’s top priority.’
Striker Daniel Sturridge was one of five players who has tested positive to COVID-19, and he sent out a message on his twitter account. He spent two weeks training COVID-free in Sydney, where he was with partner Jamilla Perreira and one-year-old daughter Mila, after leaving two weeks quarantine in Brisbane. The entire Glory squad had been isolating after a player tested positive and they were ruled close contacts. Most players returned to Perth for the second week of quarantine but a handful moved to Sydney after 14 days in hotel isolation
With the squad currently based in Sydney, the players and their close contacts are adhering to NSW Health directives, in close consultation with the A-Leagues, and the club made the following statement. “The Perth Glory men’s football department confirmed positive COVID-19 cases via either RAT or PCR testing. All players, coaches and staff with positive results are now in isolation and following the relevant health directives in NSW. “Our primary concern is for the health, wellbeing and safety of all players, staff and their families. All positive cases and those close to them are adhering to relevant state government health directives, in close consultation with the A-Leagues. We will continue to work with the clubs on confirming a new schedule for the postponed match as soon as possible.”
The embattled club can’t take a trick at the moment, after the WA borders remains closed and they are now considering an interstate move for their home games, with Townsville, the Gold Coast or Canberra being touted, which is devasting for them and their members. Glory owner Tony Sage said it’s a real kick in the teeth for the club. “It would be a real shame playing our home games in another state but we have to plan for it,” he said. “We don’t want to do it but we have to have a Plan B. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel but hopefully it doesn’t come to that. It would be like selling a home game and hopefully we would get some income because we are struggling financially at the moment. It’s a plan B if the government can’t give us some assurances. We don’t want to be based in Sydney. We want teams to come to us.”
MATILDAS’ PRODUCE A SECOND BLITZ TO DOWN PHILIPPINES
The Matildas kept their perfect record in the Asian Cup group stage intact, defeating Philippines, who were coached by former Australia coach Alen Stajcic, 4-0 at the Mumbai Football Arena on Monday evening. After a disappointing first half, where the Matildas struggled to break down a compact Philippines defence, who also had a couple of chances to take a shock lead. But six minutes into the second half, skipper Sam Kerr broke the deadlock, and two minutes later and own goal from Dominique Randle doubled their advantage. Emily van Egmond and Mary Fowler add the other goals, to keep Tony Gustavsson’s side at the top of Group B.
"When you create that many chances that we did in the first half and the stats says that we should be up three-to-four nil and you don't get those goals, you can tend to sometimes lose your head and get frustrated," Gustavsson said post-match. "We talked about that in half-time ... and the players came back with a conviction and confidence in the second half that when the first goal comes [it] is probably going to [be followed by] the second and the third and the fourth, and so it did. We knew this was going to be a very different game from the opening game and I have to give a lot of credit to the Philippines. I think they made it very difficult for us, but we were able to stay focused and not get frustrated."
Gustavsson made three changes to the side that thrashed Indonesia last time out, with Teagan Micaah, Tameka Yallop and Kyah Simon coming into the starting side, with Mackenzie Arnold, Clare Wheeler and Hayley Roso dropping to the bench. It was the Philippines who went close early, Sarina Bolen finding Chandler McDaniel, but her shot flashed wide of the target on six minutes. They were in again five minutes later, Sara Castañeda’s shot saved low by Micaah, this wasn’t in the game plan for the Matildas. The Philippines, were defending deep and frustrating the Matildas, Yallop’s shot from the edge of the box on 20 minutes was their first attempt at goal.
Kerr fired wide on the half hour, after getting on the end of Mary Fowler cross, and moments later the former Perth Glory striker headed wide from close-range. They went even closer six minutes later Clare Polkinghorne’s shot hitting the post, but at the break it was scoreless. But whatever was said at the break seemed to have worked and six minutes in the Matildas made the breakthrough, Arsenal defender Steph Catley crossed to Kerr, who lost her marker to head home. It was 2-0, two minutes later, Emily van Egmond’s cross into the box caused panic in the Philippines defence and with Kerr ready to pounce, the unfortunate Randle heading into her own net, although Simon made sure on the line.
It was a different Matildas side now, and Kerr was starting to find gaps in the Philippines backline and on the hour here shot was saved low by Kiara Fontanilla. The Philippines custodian then saved well to deny Kyah Simon, but she could do little when the Matildas added a third on 67 minutes. Catley’s cross was flicked goalward by van Egmond, but it was superbly cleared off the line by Hali long, but van Egmond was quickest to the rebound to head home. The Matildas dominated the rest of the game and added a fourth on 87 minutes. Holy McNamara and Courtney Nevin combined down the left, the latter’s cross was only cleared as far as Fowler whose first time shot from the edge of the penalty area gave Fontanilla no chance.
Stajcic, who was facing the Matildas for the first time since his controversial sacking in 2019, paid tribute to his side's resilience with several stars missing because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the squad. "We haven't done anything wrong yet we've had a couple of cases in our team and it really is difficult, it's the invisible enemy and it could be anyone at any moment," he said. "We played against Australia today without one of our key players who was unavailable, and actually played with our No 3 goalkeeper today ... that's her debut at this level. So many positives to take out of the performance today, on top of the actual effort they showed on the field." Australia will play Thailand on Friday with a chance of sealing top spot in group B.
Philippines: GK Kiara FONTANILLA, 3 Dominique RANDLE, 5 Hali LONG, 8 Chandler MCDANIEL (21 Katrina GUILLOU 59’), 9 Jessica MICLAT (7 Camille RODRIGUEZ 87’), 10 Ryley BUGAY, 12 Sara CASTANEDA (11 Anicka CASTANEDA 71’), 15 Carleigh FRILLES (4 Tara SHELTON 71’), 16 Sofia HARRISON, 18 Sarina BOLDEN, 19 Eva MADARANG (2 Malea CESAR 59’) – Subs not used: RGK Olivia MCDANIEL, 6 Tahnai ANNIS, 13 Morgan BROWN, 14 Isabella FLANIGAN, 17 Keanne ALAMO
Matildas – GK Teagan MICAAH, 4 Clare POLKINGHORNE, 7 Stephanie CATLEY (2 Courtney NEVIN 72’), 9 Caitlin FOORD (22 Holly MCNAMARA 71’), 10 Emily VAN EGMOND, 11 Mary FOWLER, 13 Tameka YALLOP (19 Kyra COONEY-CROSS 81’), 14 Alanna KENNEDY, 17 Kyah SIMON (5 Cortnee VINE 71’), 20 Sam KERR (23 Remy SIEMSEN 80’), 21 Ellie CARPENTER, (68’) – Subs not used: RGK Mackenzie ARNOLD, RGK Lydia WILLIAMS, 3 Aivi LUIK, 6 Clare WHEELER, 8 Charlotte GRANT, 15 Emily GIELNIK, 16 Hayley RASO - Referee: Chieh Wang
DE LA HARPE GIVE GLORY THE POINTS
Perth Glory Womens A-League side have shrugged off a disruptive off-field week to secure a 1-0 win against Western Sydney Wanderers in their clash at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford on Sunday. Glory dominated proceedings and had enough chances to ease to victory, but it was Deborah-Anne De la Harpe's first goal for the club that proved enough to secure the win and move them to fifth on the ladder and within a point of the final’s places.
Head Coach Alex Epakis returned to the bench after his covid scare, and he was full of praise for his side’s performance. “All week, after the Newcastle game, we realised that we put together a performance for 70% of the match,” he said post-match. “The focus this week was turning that 70% towards 90 or 100 and making sure that from start to finish, we gave ourselves the best chance to dominate the game, and in this instance, we did exactly that. For me, it’s the best performance we’ve had in the two seasons I’ve been here.
“We controlled the match from start to finish, we didn’t give them any real chances, we created a lot of chances and all we had to do was score another couple of goals for it to have been a perfect performance. Hopefully we can build towards that, but I’m over the moon. The group was fantastic all week and despite the difficult news that came through in the week, we drew a line in the sand and said to the players that the only way we can respond to this is in our performance on the field. That was a huge motivator today.”
Epakis kept the same side that drew with Newcastle Jets last time out and they started well and went close to the opener on 20 minutes, Hana Lowry’s through ball found Lisa De Vanna, but the former Matildas striker failed to find the target. They continued to press and on the half hour De La Harpe’s corner was headed goal wards by Mie Leth Jans, and the crowd was waiting for the net to bulge, but Wanderers’ keeper Sarah Langman produced a stunning reaction save to deny her. The visitors were in again seven minutes later, Lowry picking out De La Harpe, but a superb last-ditch block from Rosie Galea cleared the danger.
They went even closer in first half stoppage time, another pinpoint cross from De La Harpe picked out Sofia Sakalis, whose header crashed off the crossbar. Glory had done everything but score, but it was a really impressive first 45 minutes, but three minutes into the second half the Glory’s dominance was rewarded with the lead. De Vanna was brought down on the left of penalty area. It was a tough angle for a free kick, but De La Harpe produced a glorious strike, giving Langman no chance. The goal lifted the Wanderers and Morgan Aquino was forced into action for the first time in the game, saving Bryleeh Henry’s effort. Glory were dangerous going forward and looked for a second to give them some breathing space, but Lowry’s shot on the turn deflected over the top, before Langman stood tall to save Leena Khamis’ effort after the former Wanderers striker was sent in on goal.
Wanderers weren’t going down without a fight and Aquino made a smart save to thwart the lively Henry, and she was out bravely to save substitute Sheridan Gallagher’s cross in stoppage time. But Epakis’ side held firm to take the points, and they will be out to make it three games unbeaten when they take on Wellington Phoenix next weekend. On the border closure De Vanna said it wasn’t the news they wanted to hear, but she was delighted the way the side had put that bad news behind them. "I'm devastated," Glory attacker Lisa De Vanna told Paramount. "The resilience and the determination of the girls came out (tonight). It's great that (we are) showing that we can overcome adversity."
Perth Glory: GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 5 Deborah-Anee DE LA HARPE, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY (13 Sarah CAIN 82'), 11 Lisa DE VANNA (23 Alana JANCEVSKI 74'), 12Sofia SAKALIS (29 Leena KHAMIS 59'), 17 Abbey GREEN (21 Aideen KEANE 82'), 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 26 Mie LETH JANS - Subs not used: RGK Courtney NEWBON
Western Sydney Wanderers: GK Sarah LANGMAN, 2 Caitlin COOPER, 5 Danika MATOS, 6 Olivia PRICE (13 Biana GALIC 73'), 8 Erica HALLOWAY (17 Sheridan GALLAGHER 58'), 9 Bryleeh HENRY, 10 Elizabeth COPUS-BROWN, 14 Clare HUNT, 15 Rosie GALEA (11 Teigan COLLISTER 58'), 21 Alexia APOSTOLAKIS (23 Teigen ALLEN 81'), 22 Alexandra HUYNH – Subs not used: RGK Shamiran KHAMIS - Referee: Rebecca Mackie
KERR BEGINS INDIAN ADVENTURE WITH RECORD
Samantha Kerr's first trip to India was always going to be special and it's already become unforgettable. The Matilda's captain bagged five goals in Australia's remarkable 18-0 victory over Indonesia which began their Women's Asian Cup campaign on Friday.
That haul increased Kerr's international tally to 54 goals, surpassing Tim Cahill's 50 for the Socceroos and making the 28-year old Australia's greatest international goalscorer. It means the world to Kerr in her first visit to the homeland of her Indian-born grandparents, who migrated to Australia in 1969.
To break the record in the first game of her quest to secure the Matildas' second Asian Cup title in a country where she has direct roots didn't go unnoticed by the Chelsea forward. "I definitely thought about that before the game. How special it would be for my family that I'm in India," Kerr said.
"It's my first time being here, so even just seeing the culture and when we drive here looking outside and seeing the people, everyone here has been so welcoming, and I know that there's a lot of Indian fans out there that follow me. So it's special for me to break the record but this adds that little bit."
Kerr's goal swag could've been even greater had she not smashed a second half penalty against the crossbar. But she had to content herself with the Matildas' first five-goal haul since Kate Gill achieved the feat against Hong Kong in a 15-0 victory in 2007.
GLORY ADD PROMISING DEFENDER STANOJEVIC
Perth Glory have signed central defender Darko Stanojevic for the remainder of the 2021/22 A-league season. A dual Serbian and Australian citizen, Stanojevic has plied his trade in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and most recently, Uzbekistan, where he turned out for Super-league runners-up Sogdiana Jizzakh.
Standing at 1.87m tall and equally comfortable operating as a centre-back or as a defensive midfielder, Stanojevic is looking forward to proving himself in the A-League. "I would like to thank the club for the trust they have shown in me, which I will try to justify," the 24-year old defender said.
"I am happy to have come to a club as big as Perth Glory, the move represents a big step forward in my career and is great motivation for me to improve and progress. I hope to help the club meet its goals and at a personal level, to adapt quickly to the A-League and play well for the team."
Glory coach Richard Garcia is confident that Stanojevic will prove to be an excellent addition to the squad. "He's comfortable on the ball, left-footed and keen to take the next step in his career," he said. "Once he finds his feet in the A-League, he will give us another great option within the squad."
O’NEILL RETURNS TO STING THE SKY BLUES
Perth Glory have put the disappointment of the continued WA border closure behind them to beat Sydney FC 2-1 at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Skipper Brandon O’Neill gave them the lead against his former club just before the hour mark, and Bruno Fornaroli doubled their advantage five minutes from time. Adrian Caceres pulled one back from the spot for the Sky Blues in stoppage time, but it was too little too late.
The win moved Richard Garcia’s side up four places up the ladder, and to within two points of the top six, a good result especially after a week of uncertainty regarding the opening of the WA border. Garcia was delighted with the response from his players. “I’m proud of the whole group,” he said post-match. “We made changes tonight and those guys came in and excelled, which was fantastic. We’ve got a busy schedule with a team which is still building fitness, so everyone is going to be needed and everyone is going to have to play their part.
“It’s pleasing to see that people are working and pushing in the same direction regardless of the load. I thought the team was outstanding tonight and everyone played their part. We started to tire towards the back end of the game, but we really dug in deep and made sure we defended as a group. That’s something we want to continue to build.”
Garcia made four changes to the side that lost against Brisbane Roar on Wednesday, with Jack Clisby, Antonee Burke-Gilroy, Mitch Oxborrow and Josh Rawlins coming into the side. Jonathan Aspropotamitis and Kosuke Ota were rested, with Andy Keogh and Ciaran Bramwell dropping to the bench, also on the bench was new signing Darko Stanojevic. It was Glory on the front foot early, but it was the hosts who went close to the opener on nine minutes. Elvis Kamsoba raced into the left-hand side of the penalty area, but his low cross was inches away from Bobo at the back post.
Glory hit back and Burke-Gilroy’s cross was misjudged by Socceroos’ keeper Andrew Redmayne, and with Adrian Sardinero ready to pounce, Rhyan Grant cleared the danger. Cameron Cook then got down well to save Patrick Yazbek’s long-range shot. Both sides were defending well and clear-cut chances were few and far between, the best fell to Glory just before the break, Burke-Gilroy’s shot from the edge of the box fizzed over the top.
But ten minutes into the second half Glory found the opener. Clisby’s powerful shot was parried by Redmayne, the ball falling to Sardinero, who laid it back to O’Neill who made no mistake from 12 meters. The hosts made a double change with Trent Buhagiar and Milos Ninkovic came on and they started to ask more questions, but found Aaron Calver, Darryl Lachman and the rest of the Glory defence solid. Glory then brought on Daniel Sturridge on the hour, and he had an immediate impact threading a superb through ball to send Sardinero clear, but Redmayne stood tall to deny the Spanish striker.
Rawlins then did well to head Alex Wilkinson’s header off the line as Sydney pressed for the equaliser, but Glory held firm and doubled their lead on 85 minutes. Clisby crossed from the left to Burke-Gilroy who laid the ball off to Fornaroli, his good first touch took him clear of his marker and he finish low into the corner of the net. The hosts were given a lifeline three minutes into stoppage time when O’Neill caught substitute Mustafa Amini and referee Adam Kersey pointed straight to the spot. Caceres stepped up and found the bottom corner, despite Cook going the right way. It set up a tense couple of minutes, but Glory held firm to record a first away win over the Sky Blues since 2016.
The loss completed a miserable week for Sydney, who scored just one goal across three home games, losing an FFA Cup semi-final after being held at home by Brisbane, and Head Coach Steve Corica said poor defending cost them. “It was a massive three points for us and we didn’t take our chances when they came along again,” he said. “Both goals were poor defending, very sloppy and you can’t afford to do that. I know we have played four games in ten days which is difficult to turn around but that’s no excuse for defending that we had. It was costly because the second goal killed us, as we got one back in the end.”
Sydney FC: GK Andrew REDMAYNE, 3 Ben WARLAND, 4 Alex WILKINSON, 8 Paulo RETRE (6 Mustafa AMINI 69'), 9 BOBO (12 Trent BUHAGIAR 57') 16 Joel KING (21 Harry VAN DER SAAG 78'), 17 Anthony CACERES, 22 Max BURGESS (10 Milos NINKOVIC 57'), 23 Rhyan GRANT (5 Connor O’TOOLE 78'), 27 Elvis KAMSOBA, 32 Patrick YAZBEK - Subs not used: RGK Thomas HEWARD-GELLE, 35 Liam MCGING
Perth Glory: GK Cameron COOK, 2 Aaron CALVER, 7 Adrian SARDINERO (6 Osama MALIK 73'), 9 Bruno FORNAROLI (38 Ciaran BRAMWELL 90+1'), 13 Brandon O’NEILL, 14 Jack CLISBY, 19 Callum TIMMINS (15 Daniel STURRIDGE 62'), 21 Antonee BURKE-GILROY, 22 Josh RAWLINS, 23 Mitch OXBORROW (10 Andy KEOGH 62'), 29 Darryl LACHMAN - Subs not used: RGK Liam REDDY, 16 Darko STANOJEVIC, 18 Daniel STYNES - Referee: Adam Kersey
HARNWELL THE NEW CEO OF FOOTBALL WEST
Former Perth Glory defender Jamie Harnwell has been appointed as Football West new Chief Executive Officer. Harnwell, who coached the Glory Womens side, and in the NPLWA with Sorrento for seven and half seasons, and will succeed outgoing CEO James Curtis, who is stepping down after almost six years in the role. Harnwell has been with Football West for over 12 years, most recently as Chief Football Officer. Prior to that he was Acting Chief Operating Officer and Head of Development. Before joining Football West, Harnwell was Perth Glory’s captain and record-appearance holder, playing 256 times and helping them become back-to-back NSL champions.
“Football West is delighted to announce Jamie Harnwell as our new CEO,” Football West Chairman Sherif Andrawes said. “Jamie is a real football person, from his days as a star player at Perth Glory to becoming a top coach in both the A-League Women’s and NPLWA – Men’s competitions. He has transferred the drive and dedication needed to succeed on the pitch to his roles at Football West. In addition, Jamie also possesses the necessary skills and vision to drive Football West forward as we continue to grow the sport in WA and we move towards the opening of the State Football Centre and the 2023 Women’s World Cup and beyond.
“Jamie has worked closely with James Curtis for a number of years, and in terms of senior management, it is great that he has been able to ‘learn on the job’ and is well placed to lead the team at Football West over what will be an exciting period for our sport in WA. Following an extensive nationwide search and the assessment of several excellent candidates, Jamie proved to be the stand-out. We look forward to him leading Football West in the years ahead and continuing the terrific progress achieved under James Curtis.”
Mr Harnwell said it is a big challenge but one he is looking forward too. “It is exciting to become CEO of Football West and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “We are the biggest team sport in the country in terms of participation and we are in a fantastic position. But there is still plenty of potential for further growth, especially here in WA. It has been terrific to work with James Curtis and gain invaluable experience, now I am ready to put my own stamp on the position.” Harnwell will work in tandem with outgoing CEO Curtis until the latter’s departure on 31 March 2022.
KERR BAGS FIVE AS MATILDAS START AFC ASIAN CUP WITH A BIG WIN
Sam Kerr has become Australia’s all-time leading goalscorer across all national teams, after scoring five goals in the Matildas’ 18-0 win against Indonesia in their opening game of the 2022 AFC Asian Cup. The former Perth Glory striker took just 12 minutes to surpass Tim Cahill’s record of 50 goals and left the Socceroos’ great in her wake well before half-time, netting four goals before the break before adding another to bring her goal tally to 54 and counting. It was a perfect start to the competition for the Matildas, and their record win in Asia, and Kerr said they were on their game from the first whistle. “We put our foot on the gas from the first minute until the last minute,” she said. “I think today was a good start but I think we still have a long way to go until we are at our best.”
The Matildas captain opened her account on nine minutes, latching on to a through ball from Emily van Egmond to fire past Indonesia goalkeeper Fani Supriyanto from close range. Three minutes later, that combination doubled Australia’s tally. Van Egmond spotted Kerr unmarked at the far post, allowing Kerr to break Australia’s goalscoring record with a simple tap-in. It was one-way traffic and two minutes later, Kerr turned provider. A well-weighted cross picked the run of Caitlin Foord who headed past Supriyanto to make it 3-0. The Indonesians were simply shell-shocked with the Australian onslaught and whatever hopes they had of an unlikely result were dashed on 17 minutes when youngster Mary Fowler beat Supriyanto with a one-on-one before Hayley Raso made it 5-0 with a header midway through the first half.
Having already netted twice, Kerr was gifted the chance of a hat-trick from the spot and made no mistake with a powerful penalty delivered into the bottom corner. The Matildas’ best move of the first half led to a rare goal for fullback Ellie Carpenter. Some neat play down the left saw the ball delivered into the box where Clare Wheeler slipped a clever ball into the path of Carpenter who rattled the top corner of the net with a vicious shot. Kerr made it 8-0 with a clever tap-in set up by van Egmond before van Egmond scored a deserved goal from the penalty spot to send them into the break nine to the good.
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson had the luxury of making four changes during the break and they continued to dominate and three minutes after the restart Carpenter made it 10-0 with a looping cross shot that dipped into the corner of the net. Shortly after, Kerr had her fifth with a powerful finish from Courtney Nevin’s cross inside the box. The Matildas had long stopped celebrating goals by the time van Egmond notched her second, beating Supriyanto to the ball with a header from close range. In fact, goals were met with laughs and jokes before the hour as Tameka Yallop and van Egmond taunted one another over who got the final touch for the Matildas’ 13th.
A missed penalty for Kerr shortly after didn’t even matter, and substitute Kyah Simon made it 14-0 by finishing a goalmouth scramble moments later. Van Egmond sealed her hat-trick with a well-taken goal on the counter a minute later before Simon netted her double a minute after that. Aivi Luik added another with a clever back heel and Raso sealed the win with a tap in at the far post. There next test is on Monday night against the Philippines, who are coached by former Matildas’ coach Alen Stajcic.
Many pundits thought some of the younger Matildas squad should have played in this game the like of Remy Siemsen and Cortney Vine, but Head Coach Tony Gustavsson believed his team selection and substitutions were justified out of respect for the opposition. “I’ve been in a similar situation before as a coach going into a tournament when you have a low-ranked team in the opening game and how important it is to treat that team with respect but also show respect to our values and our standards,” Gustavsson said. “There’s different reasons but the number one reason is that we need that cohesion between the players and get off on a good start to send some messages to ourselves and to the other ones how we are treating this tournament.”
Matildas – GK Mackenzie ARNOLD, 4 Clare POLKINGHORNE (2 Courtney NEVIN 46’), 6 Clare WHEELER, 7 Stephanie CATLEY (3 Aivi LUIK 46’), 9 Caitlin FOORD (17 Kyah SIMON 46’), 10 Emily VAN EGMOND, 11 Mary FOWLER (13 Tameka YALLOP 46’), 14 Alanna KENNEDY, 16 Hayley RASO, 21 Ellie CARPENTER, 20 Sam KERR (22 Holly MCNAMARA 68’) – Subs not used: RGK Teagan MICAAH, RGK Lydia WILLIAMS, 5 Cortnee VINE, 8 Charlotte GRANT, 15 Emily GIELNIK, 19 Kyra COONEY-CROSS, 23 Remy SIEMSEN
Indonesia – GK Fani SUPRIYANTO (RGK Nurhalimah Nurhalimah 46’), 2 Remini Chere RUMBEWAS, 6 Pani Tri OKTAVIANTI (3 Rosdilah Siti NURROHMAH 75’), 7 Octavianti Dwi NURMALITA, 9 Ade OKAFIANI, 11 Baiq AMIATUN, 12 Zahra MUZDALIFAH, 14 Diah Tri LESTARI (4 Shalika Aurelia VIANDRISA 26’), 15 Helsya MAEISYAROH, 17 Vivi RISKI, 20 Viny SILFIANUS (10 Rani MULYASARI 26’) - Subs not used – RGK Riska APRILIA, 5 Sabrina Mutiara FIRDAUS, 8 Maulina NOVRYLIANI, 13 Marsela YULIANA, 16 Carla Bio PATTINASARANY, 18 Tia SEPTIAWATI, 22 Insyafadya SALABILLAH, 23 Reva OCTAVIANI - Referee: Mahsa Ghorbani
GLORY HIT BY HARD BORDER BACKFLIP
Perth Glory have been left scrambling following yesterday's announcement that the planned re-opening of the state's borders on February 5 will not go ahead. The A-League club have two teams on the road and are amongst six sporting organisations across three codes currently stranded in the eastern states.
When Glory will be able to return to Perth is very much up in the air. "I keep saying that there is light at the end of the tunnel, it's not a train coming the other way," said Perth Glory chief executive Tony Pignata. "But I tell you what, it feels like a big train is coming now."
Glory left Perth earlier this month having been assured by WA Police they would be able to return after February 5. Pignata, who watched Premier Mark McGowan's media conference yesterday with about 90 players and staff from both A-League men's and women's teams, said the announcement was like being "hit with a sledgehammer".
"I can appreciate the reasoning behind [the decision] ... but we need to ensure we look after families over east who want to get back," he said. "Some of the regulations where you now have to isolate at home and everyone who is at home has to isolate around for 14 days, that's untenable."
Pignata also highlighted the dire state of the club's finances after a challenging time throughout the pandemic, which has affected the last three national league seasons. "We're looking at millions and millions of dollars of losses and whether we can continue," Pignata said.
GLORY AND WANDERERS MEET IN A CRUCIAL A-LEAGUE CLASH
Perth Glory Liberty Womens A-League campaign continues on Sunday when they take on Western Sydney Wanderers at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday (kick-off at 3.45pm WST). Alex Epakis’ side are coming off a hard fought 1-1 draw against Newcastle Jets in midweek, the result leaving them sixth on the ladder, only two points ahead of the Wanderers, so a win in this one is crucial to keep in touch of the top four
Epakis believes Sunday is an important game for both sides as the season heads towards its halfway point, and he feels that his squad will certainly be aware of just how vital a victory could prove to be. “I think it’s going to be a tense game because it’s really critical for both teams,” he said. “I know that Western Sydney is a proud team and they haven’t probably had the consistency in their performances that they were hoping for this season.
“So, it’s a little bit similar to our situation and it’s timely that we’re playing each other. I think that given where both teams are and where we’re at in the competition, it might be a little bit tense to start with, but once the game finds its general flow, it should be an exciting one for the neutral and hopefully a successful one for us.”
The Glory coach, who is set to return to the technical area after missing last weekend’s draw with Newcastle having tested positive for COVID-19, feels that the best is still yet to come from his squad.
“Considering all the disruptions, we put on our best performance of the season [v Newcastle],” he said, “and I think that is a really significant milestone for us leading into the second half of the season. We’re realistic, it’s the middle of the season and we’re one point out of the top four with games in front of us. Hopefully we can put a consistent XI out and I’m really excited about what the second half of the season looks like and there’s a sense of optimism throughout the group about what we can achieve.”
In terms of early team news, Epakis is expecting the three players who missed the Jets game after testing positive for COVID-19 to be available for selection, but confirmed that Cyera Hintzen and Demi Koulizakis will again miss out through injury. Glory will be out to snap a run of three consecutive defeats at the hands of the red-and-blacks who have managed just the one victory so far this term.
OLDFIELD ACCEPTS MANAGERIAL POST WITH WEYMOUTH
English National League club Weymouth have appointed David Oldfield as manager on a two-and-a-half-year deal. The Perth-born 53-year old joins Weymouth following a 22-month spell in charge of National League South side Oxford City.
Oldfield succeeds Brian Stock, who parted ways with Weymouth last week after a run of seven straight league losses. The former Manchester City, Leicester City and Luton Town midfielder takes over with the Terras in 21st position with 23 games remaining.
"It's a very exciting time, I'm very pleased to be here," Oldfield said of joining Weymouth. "It's a club that has a really strong fanbase and we want to really try and build on that enthusiasm and support that the club garners in the town."
"We want to be a really important factor. I know it already is, but I want to re-emphasise how important that is within the community of Weymouth and Dorset and how we want to tap in even more to that. I know it's a big project and I know we have some work to do, but we are looking forward to the challenge."
"There are some very big budgets and big clubs in the league. Weymouth did fabulously to be here and we need to make sure we're doing all we can to retain that status. It's a massive challenge, there's no doubt about that, but we need to make sure everybody's engaged."
MANAGER CALLS ON JONES TO LEAD BOLTON REVIVAL
Bolton Wanderers manager Oan Evatt has called on Gethin Jones to help lead his new-look side up the League One table. The Bolton boss installed Jones as vice-captain earlier this month after Eoin Doyle left to finish his playing career in Ireland.
Jones has forged a bond with the Bolton fans, who helped him raise significant funding towards treatment for his mother, who had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. Once he was cleared by the medics to play again after a fractured leg, Evatt says it was a simple decision to appoint him as number two to Ricardo Santos in the dressing room.
“It was a no-brainer because I know Gethin well and know the type of leader and person he is,” Evatt said. “He is a wonderful young man and with what we achieved earlier in the season for his mum, raising money for MND, it was a massive credit to him and his family.”
“When he talks, people listen. He isn’t a shouter and screamer but he is educated, he is intelligent and he says things in the right manner. He has Bolton at heart now, he sees this as his home. I know him and Rico get on well off the pitch, they are close, so they can both help us with a new leadership team to progress the lads.”
WILLIAMS KEEN TO SEE MATILDAS MAKE THEIR MARK
Arsenal goalkeeper Lydia Williams says Australia must look to set the standard for a strong tournament when they open their AFC Women’s Asian Cup campaign tonight. The veteran shot-stopper is in line to collect her 96th senior cap when the Matildas take on Indonesia in Mumbai.
“It’s the first game, you want to go out there and really make your mark,” said 33-year old Williams. “We must go out there and put in a performance which sets the tone for the remainder of the tournament. We are all really excited to get out there and get up and running.”
Williams is one of Australia’ most experience players with five - and soon to be six - Asian Cup and four World Cup campaigns to her name. “It is an honour every time I represent the team and every time I’m part of the group,” said Williams, who cherishes the opportunity to represent her country.
“It is just exciting that it is another tournament that I’m a part of and we get to go out there and make history and be the best that we can be. I’m looking forward to getting out there on the pitch with the girls and playing some games.”
MATILDAS LOOKING FOR ASIAN CUP SUCCESS
The Matildas will go in search of their second AFC Asian Cup successful, when the 2022 tournament kicks off tonight. They last won the competition in 2010 and has finished second three times and Kyah Simon is no stranger to the competition, after all, it was her penalty in 2010 which won the Final. But even with several continental cups and FIFA Women's World Cups under her belt, Simon still feels a thrill heading into a major tournament.
"I love tournament football, and I love high-pressure moments and football. We play these games to be in those moments," Simon explained. "I just enjoy the challenge. When there's something on the line, there's something at stake at a major tournament, you do all you possibly can, in your power as an individual, but also as a team, to hope to be successful in that tournament."
The team will be led by Sam Kerr and has been selected with a mix of experienced heads and exciting youngsters. Simon believes the core group is well complemented by the fresher faces in the team. "We've still got the majority of the core group that we've had for the last few years, but we've got some new fresh faces,” she said.
"We had a couple that made the squad for the last couple of spots and they've done really well in training. I think we're ready to go and for the tournament to start. "We've got a good combination of experienced players, but also some young up-and-coming players that hopefully get their opportunity and can show what they can do on the world stage."
The squad boasts a plethora of attacking options. Alongside Simon are the likes of Kerr and Caitlin Foord who are no strangers to this level, as well as players like Mary Fowler, who has emerged in the last 12 months, and Holly McNamara and Cortnee Vine who will hope to earn their first-ever caps.
Matildas and Olympique Lyonnais defender Ellie Carpenter has made no secret of Australia’s intention to win the tournament. “We want to win tournaments, we want to win trophies,” the 21-year-old said. “We want to put pressure on ourselves to be able to win this and back up good performance after good performance. We’re ready to do that. A game every two days is tough, but we have the squad and the depth to do that this tournament.”
Group Stage – Game 1 Matildas v Indonesia - Friday, 21 January 2022 - Venue: Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai - Kick-off: 9pm (AEDT) – Game 2 Philippines v Matildas - Date: Monday, 24 January 2022 - Venue: Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai - Kick-off: 9pm (AEDT) – Game 3 Matildas v Thailand - Date: Friday, 28 January 2022 - Venue: Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai - Kick-off: 01:00am (AEDT) – All Live and Exclusive on Network 10 and 10 Play
GARCIA FACING BATTLE ON TWO FRONTS
Perth Glory men’s coach Richard Garcia faces a double challenge as the side restart their interrupted A-League season - catching up on a fixture backlog and staying free of COVID-19.
Glory have little rest after Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Brisbane Roar, flying to Sydney today ahead of Saturday’s clash with Sydney FC and Macarthur FC four days later. That is followed by about six games on the road before returning to Perth when wqestern Australia’s borders open.
Garcia said Wednesday’s game had taken a toll on his players. “We’ve been set a massive challenge,” Garcia said. “The guys worked hard on the first trip and we’ve got to do that again. The games will come thick and fast, quicker than we had planned. That’s part of the challenge, get as much points on the road as we can.”
“It’s about bouncing back and trying to get them as fresh as we can to try and build for the next performance. We’ve got to be prepared for it, use a lot of the squad. When people come in they’ve got to be able to step up. That’s part and parcel of what we’re going through. We are just going to have to manage that the best we can.”
Garcia said his team could not afford to have players going down with COVID and another enforced break. They had 43 days - including 14 in quarantine - without a game before the Brisbane clash. “We are going to try and keep the guys as safe as possible so we don’t have any more disruptions to the season,” Garcia said.
“The (last) break has already been a big disruption. We don’t want to have any reason to have another break but at the same time we are going into a place where the (COVID) numbers are very high. It’s going to be a challenging one to go COVID free, I feel, within the environment.”
GLORY BEATEN ON A-LEAGUE RETURN
Perth Glory’s return to Isuzu Ute Men’s A-League action didn’t go to plan after they were beaten 1-0 by Brisbane Roar at Moreton Daily Stadium on Wednesday evening. The hosts dominating for long period, with Glory struggling to get in the game, but after 43 days away from the action they struggled late with match fitness and former Glory Youth midfielder Henry Hore popped up with the winner 13 minutes from time.
Head coach Richard Garcia said his side lacked match sharpness, but was pleased that Daniel Sturridge got minutes under his belt. “It definitely took us a long time to find our feet and from the start the guys looked leggy,” he said post-match. “I thought second half they came out and showed they’d got their second wind, so to concede from a set-piece was disappointing.
“After we did concede, the guys were still pushing hard and you could tell it was taking a toll on their bodies. But that’s where we need to get to, to find that match fitness and get into a position where we can run out games and feel comfortable playing again at that tempo. I was pleased for Daniel that he came on, it was good to be able to give him those minutes so that he can build his way into it as well.”
Garcia made four changes to the side that lost to Melbourne City on December 8, with skipper Brandon O’Neill returning to the side, along with Andy Keogh, Callum Timmins and Ciaran Bramwell. Luke Bodnar missed out with injury, while Jack Clisby, Daniel Stynes and Antonee Burke-Gilroy dropped to the bench. The hosts were on the front foot early and young keeper Cameron Cook got down well to save from Roar skipper Jay O’Shea in the first minute.
The Roar continued to dictate terms, with Glory struggling to clear their lines, and seven minutes later Nikola Mileusnic’s cross was headed just wide by Argentinean striker Juan Lescano. It was one way traffic and Lescano headed straight at Cook when well placed, before O’Shea’s long-range effort was saved by the Glory custodian. Cook was called into action again on 20 minutes, this time getting down smartly to save Nicholas Olsen’s effort. Former Glory defender Scott Neville was next to go close, his low shot flashing inches wide.
Glory produced their first effort on the half hour, Keogh was picked out on the right of the penalty area, and his dangerous cross was only inches away from Bruno Fornaroli at the back post. It was the best period of the game so far for Garcia’s men, and Fornaroli’s curling effort was straight at Macklin Freke moments later. But after starring early, Cook almost gifted the hosts the lead just before half time, his attempted clearance fell to O’Shea, whose curling effort looked goalbound, but a superb header off the line by Jonathan Aspropotamitis, saved the keepers blushes.
Garcia made a change at the break, bringing on Burke-Gilroy for Bramwell, and they made a better start and from Aaron Calver’s cross Fornaroli had three attempts to fins the net, but it wasn’t to be for the Uruguayan striker. Mileusnic then saw his free kick was then saved low by Cook, as fatigue set in for Glory. With another game on Saturday against Sydney in the back of his mind, Garcia made the changes on the hour, bringing off O’Neill and Darryl Lachman, with Stynes and Mitch Oxborrow coming on, the latter his first game since re-signing from Gwelup Croatia, while Sturridge came on for Fornaroli.
Sturridge was soon in the action, his quick feet saw him make space down the right, but his cross was overhit. It looked like one goal was going to win it, and it went to the hosts on 77 minutes. Alex Parsons corner to the back post, was headed back across goal by Neville, and Hore pounced to head home. It looked like the midfielder had impeded Cook before scoring, but VAR checked and it was given the all clear. Glory almost levelled immediately, Sturridge was brought down on the edge of the box, and the former Liverpool striker curled the ball around the wall but it flashed inches past the post. The Roar should have added a second late, Parsons in on goal, but a suburb last-ditch tackle from Man of the Match Aspropotamitis thwarted him. The Glory are back in action on Saturday when they take on Sydney FC at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium kick off 4.45pm WST (7.45pm Local).
Brisbane Roar: GK Macklin FREKE, 2 Scott NEVILLE, 7 Rahmat AKBARI (15 Jesse DALEY 67'), 8 Matti STEINMANN, 10 Nikola MILEUSNIC (16 Joshua BRINDELL-SOUTH 75'), 21 Nicholas OLSEN, 22 Alexander PARSONS, 23 Juan LESCANO (13 Henry HORE 75'), 26 James O’SHEA, 27 Kai TREWIN, 35 Louis ZABALA (19 Jack HINGERT 67') - Subs not used: RGK Jordan HOLMES, 4 Anton MILNARIC, 11 Jez LOFTHOUSE
Perth Glory: GK Cameron COOK, 2 Aaron CALVER, 5 Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 7 Adrian SARDINERO (14 Jack CLISBY 84'), 8 Kosuke OTA, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI (15 Daniel STURRIDGE 68'), 10 Andy KEOGH, 13 Brandon O’NEILL, (18 Daniel STYNES 60'), 19 Callum TIMMINS, 29 Darryl LACHMAN (23 Mitch OXBORROW 60'), 38 Ciaran BRAMWELL (21 Antonee BURKE-GILROY 46') – Subs not used: RGK Liam REDDY, 22 Josh RAWLINS - Referee: Alireza Faghani
KERR MISSES OUT ON FIFA TEAM OF THE YEAR
After a stunning season with her English Super League club Chelsea and with the Matildas, Sam Kerr has been in the form of her life. But after being voted second in the FIFA Best Womens Player of the Year, the Perth-born striker was surprisingly omitted from the FIFA FIFPRO World Team of the Year.
The Matildas captain was runner-up to Barcelona’s Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas, while Robert Lewandowski picked up The Best FIFA Men’s Player of the Year gong for the second successive campaign – this time ahead of Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah.
Kerr’s goals for Australia and Chelsea at all levels of the game made the 28-year-old a standout contender, but Putellas pipped her to add the FIFA trophy to her Ballon d’Or victory. Putellas captained Barca to the treble, which included its first Women’s Champions League title – defeating Kerr’s Blues in the final. Her teammate and fellow Spanish midfielder Jennifer Hermoso was third in the FIFA vote.
International captains, coaches and selected media vote for the top individual awards while there is also a fan voting element. Kerr herself voted for Putellas, Norway’s Caroline Graham Hansen and Hermoso in the players’ category. Matildas’ coach Tony Gustavsson voted for Kerr, Putellas and Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema. Kerr polled 38 points – 14 behind Putellas and five ahead of Hermoso.
Bizarrely, however, none of the top three made the cut in the Women’s World XI side – selected by thousands of professional players from all over the world, who vote for the best player in each position. The XI did not include any players from Barcelona or Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Canada.
Kerr’s Chelsea coach Emma Hayes was named best women’s manager, while the striker is currently in India with the Matildas squad preparing for the Asian Cup. Australia’s opening match of the tournament is on Friday night against Indonesia in Mumbai.
GLORY BACK IN A-LEAGUE ACTION TONIGHT
Perth Glory are back in Isuzu Ute Men’s A-League action for the first time since December 8, when they take on Brisbane Roar at Moreton Daily Stadium tonight. The league has come to a grinding holt due to covid infections with most games called off, but Richard Garcia’s side look like beginning a six-game road trip, with games against Sydney FC and Macarthur FC in the next eight days.
After the 43-day hiatus, Garcia will almost have a full squad to choose from, with only Brad Jones and Luke Bodnar unavailable due to injury, and he said his players are looking forward to getting back on the pitch. “The guys are dying to get back out there and do what they love to do,” he said. “It’s been fantastic to be able to have some time at home with family and regroup, but I think everyone is itching to get back out there and play. I love that they are dying to do well for the group as well as the club. A lot of the guys wear their heart on their sleeve and I hope that shows in their performances in the coming weeks.”
Glory skipper Brandon O’Neill echoed the coach’s comments. “It’s been a long time since Adelaide,” O’Neill said. “I’m ready to get back to competitive mode and getting three points. You can see the boys are ready to get back into game mode after what they’ve been through. The ups and downs of not knowing if we are going to be training, if we are going to be playing, what the fixtures are looking like, what the end of the season is going to be looking like. There’s a much clearer picture now which is awesome. We can forget about the outside noise and concentrate on every single game being the best version of us.”
O’Neill missed a number of games, after staying in Perth for the birth of his first child, and the midfielder admits getting back to match fitness may take a while. “You can’t make up for game and competitive rhythm but I have no doubt we will get better as each game goes on,” he said. “That bodes well for the end of the season, when we’ve got eight, 10, 12 games here in Perth. It’s where you want to be hitting the straps... at finals time.”
“Now there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. What we’ve done very well is prepare as best we can. We’ve controlled things inside that we can act upon and from there it’s the execution. We have done is pushed ourselves. We’ve been here there everywhere. To go away and get everyone together to concentrate on football will be a cool feeling.”
Glory will also have a number of senior players back in the squad, with Andy Keogh, Liam Reddy, Osama Malik and Mitch Oxborrow all available, and Garcia is also pleased with the progress of star signing Daniel Sturridge. “It’s great to have the squad virtually injury-free, and everyone is going to be needed because, as we’ve seen, it’s going to be a trip where games are going to get thrown in and changed,” Garcia explained.
“We’re going to have situations where we’re going to be asked to back up with a short turnaround and we’re going to need everyone in the squad. Brad Jones (calf) and Luca Bodnar (foot) are probably not too far away either; Brad is probably a little bit further than Brad.”
On Sturridge the news is getting better, after the former Liverpool striker has been training on the east coast since before Christmas. “Daniel is travelling really well and will definitely play some part in the [Brisbane] game,” Garcia said. “It’s back to where we were when he first arrived; the plan hasn’t really changed from day one.
“He’s built pretty nicely over the last few weeks and the more match practice he gets, the better he’ll be for it. The plan was always to build him up in big chunks of the game. I still feel he needs to get minutes off the bench and bigger minutes as time goes by and he feels that he’s in a better place to do that for bigger periods of the game.”
GLORY TO FINALLY RE-START THE CAMPAIGN
Perth Glory will re-start their A-League campaign by travelling to Brisbane Roar on Wednesday. But the welcome return could be short-lived as COVID-19 continues to play havoc with the national league season. The game is Glory's only confirmed fixture but the team will remain in the east until at least February 5 when Western Australian re-opens its borders.
Glory have played only four games this season for one win, one draw and two losses. Their last outing was in mid-December before the squad was sent into two weeks of isolation after winger Pacifique Niyongabire tested COVID-19 positive in Brisbane and all squad members and staff were deemed close contacts.
Glory chief executive Tony Pignata said the news was a welcome relief for the club and they hoped to have more fixtures locked-in. “We expect to be playing again at the weekend but the opposition keeps changing,” Pignata said. “Clubs are coming down with COVID and fixtures are being re-shuffled. We don’t know who our next opponents will be. Basically it will be whoever is available.”
The A-Leagues are continually re-schueduling fixtures and Western Sydney Wanderers game against Adelaide United, due to be played on Wednesday, is the latest casualty after a number of Western Sydney players tested positive in recent days. “We will continue to work with all clubs to confirm a new schedule for all postponed matches as soon as possible,” read an A-Leagues statement.
GLORY SHARE THE SPOILS WITH THE JETS
Perth Glory have shared the spoils with Newcastle Jets, after a 1-1 draw in Week 7 of the Liberty Womens A-League at No.2 Sportsground on Sunday afternoon Teenager Hana Lowry gave Glory a deserved lead early in the second half, but the hosts levelled 13 minutes from time. Both sides pushed late for the winner but had to settle for a point, the draw leaving Glory sixth on the ladder.
Head Coach Alex Epakis missed the clash due to testing positive to Covid, with assistant Stef Busso taking her place in the dugout, on top of this news, the club are also without key players Cyera Hintzen and Susan Phonsongkham due to injury. Speaking after the game Epakis was pleased with the performance, especially after a tough lead up to the game.
“Given the context of last week, the three games in one week, the last result [4-0 defeat v Sydney FC] and the disrupted preparations, it’s so difficult to fault the players today,” he said. “I thought they were excellent in their attitude, excellent in their focus and they really had a point to prove that last week doesn’t represent us as a team. Today’s performance was certainly more what we’re building towards and more of what we want to stand for as a team.
“We’re disappointed that we didn’t capitalise upon the chances and the scoreline, but it’s important to separate those out from the performance to balance out where we’re at. The performance ticked a lot of boxes, but obviously we can still fine tune a couple of areas which would have helped us get the three points. Then, from a results point of view, it leaves a bit of a sour taste when you walk away feeling that you were the dominant team but you didn’t get the three points.”
Despite the side showing six changes to that which started against Sydney FC last time out, Glory looked fluent early and were unfortunate not to take lead when Jets ‘keeper Claire Coelho failed to claim a Deborah-Anee de la Harpe cross and the loose ball struck the back of Lisa De Vanna before flying narrowly over the top. But it wasn’t all one-way traffic and Glory keeper Morgan Aquino made a smart save to deny Ashlee Harding, and moments later thwarting Sophie Brodigan.
Glory had the most possession in the first half but didn’t capitalize, but ten minutes into the second half they made the breakthrough their pressure deserved. Danish import Mie Leth-Jans picking out Lowry with a sublime chip into the box and the 18-year-old midfielder’s shot on the turn found the bottom corner. They went close to a second moments later Lisa De Vanna bursting into the penalty area, but Jets custodian Coelho produced a fine save.
It was one-way traffic as Glory pressed for a second and only the crossbar denied skipper Natasha Rigby her first goal for the club, the defender getting in front of her marker from Lowry’s corner but couldn’t find the target. Moments later De La Harpe’s powerful free kick was tipped on to the crossbar by Coelho, who was keeping her side in the game. The home side needed a lift and on 77 minutes the hosts found the equaliser. Laura Allan’s neat through ball found Eddy who calmly finished past Aquino. Both sides pressed for the winner, but it was the hosts with the best chances. First Harding set up substitute Jemma House, whose header crashed off the bar, before Lauren Allen’s last-minute header flashed inches over the top.
Newcastle Jets: GK Claire COELHO, 5 Tiana JABER, 6 Cassidy DAVIS, 8 Elizabeth EDDY, 9 Tara ANDREWS (3 Jemma HOUSE 69'), 12 Kirsty FENTON, 14 Lucy JOHNSON (13 Lauren ALLEN 55'), 15 Sophie HARDING, 18 Taren KING, 19 Ashlee BRODIGAN (16 Sunny FRANCO 85'), 32 Bethany GORDON - Subs not used: RGK Georgia BORIC, 25 Lara GOOCH
Perth Glory: GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 5 Deborah-Anee DE LA HARPE, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY (13 Sarah CAIN 83'), 11 Lisa DE VANNA (21 Aideen KEANE 83'), 12 Sofia SAKALIS (41 Leena KHAMIS 75'), 17 Abbey GREEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 26 Mie LETH JANS (24 Gemma CRAINE 66') - Subs not used – RGK Courtney NEWBON - Referee: Caitlin Williams
GLORY WOMEN COACH EPAKIS TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
Perth Glory women coach Alex Epakis is in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 ahead of Sunday's clash with Newcastle Jets. Epakis joins three players in quarantine at the club's North Sydney accommodation where they are based for six games in New South Wales.
The game against Newcastle will go ahead at this stage as, under A-League rules, a game can only be postponed if a team has five players test COVID-19 positive. Assistant coach Stef Busso will take charge of the team while Epakis is in quarantine.
GLORY WOMEN ADD FIREPOWER WITH KHAMIS
Perth Glory women have signed Matildas forward Leena Khamis on a short-term contract as the A-League club battles injuries and COVID-19 headaches. The veteran striker has made more than 120 national league appearances during spells with Sydney FC, Canberra United and Western Sydney Wanderers.
Along the way Khamis has won two national league Premierships and one Championship in addition to the Golden Boot award in 2009. At international level, the 35-year old has gained 25 caps vor Australia, including being part of the history-making the Matildas squad that won the 2010 Asian Cup.
Khamis jumped at the chance to join Glory on a short-term injury contract after being approached by coach Alex Epakis. "I still had the drive and passion to go on and play the 2022 season, but unfortunately wasn't given the opportunity," said Khamis, who will be inclulded in the squad for Sunday's clash at Newcastle Jets.
"Alex got in contact with me and we had a really good chat regarding the team and how I could possibly help out. I think these ladies are a special group. They have a really good chance to push for finals this season and I hope to achieve it with them. We aim to play semi-finals football because based on history, anything can happen once you're there."
Glory's attacking options have been depleted by recent injuries to Cyera Hintzen, Susan Phonsongkham and Demi Koulizakis. The club is also battling a COVID-19 outbreak that it is trying to contain. Sixth-placed Glory have played five games this season for two wins, two losses, and a draw.
BOLTON’S JONES RETURNS WITH TWO GAMES IN A DAY
Gethin Jones is eager to play his part in helping Wanderers reverse their fortunes after making a memorable comeback. The defender returned to first team duty for the first time since early October after recovering from a lower leg stress fracture.
Jones' appearance from the bench of Bolton’s 2-0 home loss to Wycombe Wanderers came on the same day he had a 45-minute run-out in the reserves. And the newly-appointed club vice-captain immediately looked back at home in the right-back role where he linked well with loan signing Marlon Fossey.
“The plan was to get as much minutes in the reserve game this afternoon and then after about 25-30 minutes the gaffer and the coaching staff asked me if I was willing to be on the bench tonight and see how it goes,” explained Jones. “And I just want to be back playing.”
“I’ve got to look after myself as well but I just want to be back on the pitch with the lads and help us get back to where we should be. I loved it. I’ve got on well with Marlon in the last three or four days training with him. I think we linked up well and it’s just frustrating we couldn’t get anything at the end of it.”
Jones return is timely as Bolton aim to end a four-match losing run in League One which has seen them slip to 18th place in the table. The squad has been dogged by injuries, with forward Elias Kachunga the latest to be ruled out for a prolonged spell with a thigh problem that could keep him out for a couple of months.
But Jones hopes his fitness concerns are behind him as he focuses on helping Bolton get back to their best. “It feels good,” he said. “After about two or three weeks I had no pain but with a stress fracture I couldn’t load it too quickly so I had to wait a good six to eight weeks until I could start doing any kind of running.”
“It’s been a slow build-up but I’m just made up to be back out there with the lads now. I feel good now. I know the staff and the physios look after me so I will look after myself on the training ground on how much I do but I just want to be back out there with the lads every game and help us get back to where we should be.”
CIRCATI SNAPPED UP BY PARMA
Former Perth SC and Perth Glory defender Alessandro Circati has signed his first overseas professional contract, after putting pen to paper with Italian Serie B side Parma this week. A dual Australian-Italian citizen, Circati joined the club in 2020, playing in Palma youth academy, after starring in the Glory NPL and Youth League side. Prior to his departure to Italy, he won the 2019-20 Most Glorious Youth Player award, and impressed everyone at the club with his composure on the ball and great vision.
The 18-year-old said it’s a dream come true and he’s enjoying the challenge of Italian football. “Obviously me and my family were all very excited as it’s the first hopefully to many more,” he said. “It’s a dream come true and you know it has been a journey full of sacrifices, and I think in the end it paid off. Italian football is a little different to the NPL league in Australia, here it’s very much more tactical and also a defensive style of play, but I’m working hard and enjoying the challenge.”
He has now signed a professional contract and in doing so he follows in his father Gianfranco Circati, who played for the club in the 1990s, and who was delighted for his son. “I said to him ‘put in 100 per cent and good luck’,” he said. “As a family we are very happy. It was dream for Alessandro. This is the first step for him. “He has worked hard, he’s away from the family, he has to deal with the COVID pandemic, it’s very cold over there but he is satisfied with the outcome. He understands he just can’t sit down now, as a professional football career is very strange and you need to take the best when you can.”
Glory Men’s A-league coach Richard Garcia worked with the youngster, when Head Coach in the club’s academy, and he said all his hard work is now paying dividends. “Ale is a fantastic product of our academy and it’s great to see him taking this step in his career,” he said. “He was patient and went overseas at the right time when he was at the right stage of his development and in good form. He left with the club’s blessing and we’d like to congratulate him and wish him all the very best for the future.”
While Circati has yet to play for the senior team, he has featured in a number of Parma's youth sides, but he has been on the Serie B team sheet for four league games in December 2021. Parma were a giant of European football, having previously won two UEFA Cups, one European Super Cup and one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. However, the side has had a rocky time in the 21st century, with a number of scandals engulfing the Italian side.
Most recently, they declared bankruptcy in 2015 and were relegated to Serie D. Three straight promotions saw them return to the Serie A. A disastrous 2020-21 season saw them relegated back down to the Serie B where they are competing. Parma currently find themselves in 13th place in the Italian second division, eleven points from a promotion spot but only five points from a promotion play-off position. His contract is set to run until the end of June 2024, and the club announced the signing on their website alongside fellow-youth player Ankrah Awua. “We – in light of our commitment to bringing through young talents – are proud of Alessandro and Ankrah, who have been with the Club since 2020 and 2018 respectively, after reaching this great milestone in life and in their careers."
Circati’s started his football journey was Perth SC, where his dad is still involved, and they put out a message of congratulations on twitter. “Congratulations to Perth SC Junior Alessandro Circati for signing his first professional contract with Parma. We're extremely proud of Ale's journey which started out running around with his father at Dorrien Gardens and has continued all the way to the professional leagues of Europe. Ale's family still volunteer their time with the Club with father Gianfranco Circati providing his experience to the Club's football operations. Congratulations to Alessandro and his family.”
IREDALE HELPS THE U’S BEAT NEWCASTLE UNITED IN FA CUP
Former Perth Glory and ECU Joondalup defender Jack Iredale was in the spotlight last week, after his English League One club Cambridge United produced the shock of the FA Cup third round by beating Premier League side Newcastle United at St James Park. The 25-year-old spoke to Tom Smithies from KEEPUP and said he is still pinching himself after Joe Ironside’s goal gave them the 1-0 win, and a spot in round four against Championship side Luton Town later in the month.
The U’s were undoubtedly valiant and heroic and all the other terms usually used of giantkillers, but they were also tactically smart, disciplined, almost scored a second and in the end deserved their famous 1-0 win. Iredale played his part as “a left back helping out at centre back”, and was excellent in repelling a Premier League strike force in front of a crowd of more than 51,000, and over 5,000 supporters who made the trip north, including his mum and dad, Fiona and Paul, a day he will never forget.
“To be honest I’m still pinching myself a little bit,” Iredale said. “Really, every time I see pictures or footage from yesterday, there’s still a little bit of disbelief about what’s happened – seeing my teammates’ faces all over the newspapers and socials today, so it was a special feeling. I mean, what a place to play football, the atmosphere was incredible.
“It’s definitely by far the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of and we knew going into it that everyone was going to have to be right at their very best to get something out the game. “And thankfully, you know, the players stepped up. I thought Dimitar Mitov in goal was absolutely incredible. That’s one of the best games I’ve ever seen a goalkeeper have, and big Joey (Ironside, the goalscorer) up top was causing carnage for Premier League defenders, and everyone else in between did their roles.”
Iredale speaks repeatedly of roles and the game plan, the brainchild of Cambridge head coach Mark Bonner, and the United’s savvy, counterattacking style could have been made for the challenge of shutting down an ostensibly superior opponent. “It’s something that we’ve become very, very good at, spending periods of time without the ball, and choosing our moments when to attack but having to have that moment of quality when we do get the ball,” he said.
“We knew going there that we weren’t going to have the lion’s share of possession. We knew that there were going to be a long, difficult spells without the ball, but everything just seemed to fall in place. Bonners has done basically every job at Cambridge now I think, from right at the bottom to now the head coach, the manager. He’s someone that the boys love playing for, obviously, he’s a local Cambridge guy who the fans absolutely love.
“Since he’s come in and been given the job full time, you know, the results speak for themselves really. I think before I came to the club, we were at the bottom of League Two and then the gaffer started to put together his team and his style of play. Last season we had promotion (from League Two) and this season we’re competing really, really well in League One now. You know, for the size of club that Cambridge is and the team that we have, it’s been awesome to be involved in.
“It’s enjoyable that’s for sure. Everyone on the pitch, everyone in the squad knows exactly what direction we’re moving in and knows what we’re trying to do. We’ve got an effective style of play and we’ve got the right players for it as well.”
The defender has shone at left back this season and has a number of clubs chasing his signature, with Preston North End and Wigan Athletic keeping tabs on his performances. But even after a cameo role at centre back against the Toon, his preferred spot is down the left. “They can see me as they’d like to see me!” he said. “I think I definitely prefer to play left back, and I think I’m more effective as a left back, but you know, I’m playing every minute for now, so wherever the gaffer wants to put me, as long as it’s on the pitch, I don’t really care.”
Iredale has fought back from three serious knee injuries, and the thought of playing in front of 51,000 supporters was a million miles away, but his grit and determination, and a lot of talent to boot, has seen him complete his dream of playing professional football. “I went through that stage there where I didn’t know if I was ever going to get a chance to professional football,” Iredale said.
“But then when I came to the UK I did absolutely everything I possibly could to do it and a couple years later now, coming off a result like that, it’s something I’m really happy with and I’m really going to enjoy it. But also at the same time, you can’t get too low with the lows and you can’t get too high with the highs. You just got to sort of ride it out and it all balances out.” He has played for the Australian Joeys (17s), and there is talk of a call up to the senior squad, especially after injuries to key defenders, but Iredale only has one thing on his mind at present, that’s helping the U’s into the next round of the FA Cup.
“It’ll be a very different kind of game (against Luton Town), but why can’t it be winnable?” Iredale said. “I was involved in the Joey’s (Australian U17s) when I was younger and I loved every single minute of that, so to play for the Socceroos would be an absolute dream come true. It’s a goal that I’ve set myself and with a result like that there’s going to be some publicity around it. So, it’s something that I’m working really, really hard towards every single day and like I said, it would be an absolute dream come true.”
MIE LETH JANS ROAD TO GLORY
New Perth Glory defender Mie Leth Jans has headed down under to play the game she loves, and has told Matt Comito from KEEPUP her story of her football pathway, which has had many highs and lows. The 27-year-old made her debut for the club in their 1-0 win against Brisbane Roar in week two of the Womens A-League, and she explained her road to Glory. The Danish international signed a “dream” two-year contract at Manchester City in 2017, but only managed a handful of games for the English giants before putting that dream on hold, when both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer, in a different country, priorities change fast.
She was relishing her first taste of the professional game, teaching herself to put football ahead of her studies something that had been drummed into the then 22-year-old until her first overseas move. The standards were raised, the facilities were incredible, and Leth Jans had everything she’d ever dreamt of in a footballing career – until a double dose of personal hardship forced the young Danish star to revaluate what she held dearest.
“All my life, with education back home in Denmark, you’re raised to take your education and do your sport on the side, that’s the thing you do,” she told KEEPUP. “All of a sudden to be allowed to swap it around so you’re a footballer first, that took me a while to relax into that role. I was so impressed by the (English) media, and even people in the stands who were singing songs about the players, it was very different. I learned a great deal in Manchester, about how to be a professional. Getting over there was a dream come true, to become a professional player. The whole setup there was amazing, it was better than I could’ve dreamt of.
“The change going from prioritising my school before football to being allowed, and it was expected of me, to do the opposite, that was such a big change for me. But on a personal level, both of my parents got sick with cancer. That was actually the reason for me to leave the club. My mum is fine nowadays, but shortly after my father got diagnosed, he actually died 10 days later.
“After that, I just realised in a way that I loved football, but I couldn’t be happy without being close to my family. Being so far away from your parents when they get ill, that’s just not nice. In a way, I still take all of that with me. When I was 22 signing at City, all I had in my mind was wanting to be a professional football player. I loved (everyone) at home but didn’t care if I was close to them or not.
“Whereas after that happened, I thought, ‘Yeah, I still want to take on everything I’ve learned from football, I want to be a professional, but I need to combine it with being close to my friends and family. From them getting cancer, I learned I needed a setup outside of football, and I need to be close to family and friends to become the footballer I want to. From that point, football was not the most important for me anymore, it was to be happy. To be good at football I need to be happy outside.
Leth Jans grew up in Dragør, a short drive from Copenhagen, the Danish capital. Her older brother played football, as did her childhood friends, leaving her with little choice but to fall in love with the game herself. She grew through the earliest years of her life playing amongst the boys. Her ultimate goal? To play for the men’s national team. It wasn’t until her teens that she first saw a pathway into the women’s game.
She began to climb through the ranks of Denmark’s international age-grade sides, when she was advised to join Danish side Brøndby. It was at her new club where she first met her Australian ‘big sister’, Aivi Luik. “As a 17-year-old I moved to the A-team in Brøndby. I wasn’t playing at all, I was just sitting on the bench getting hard skin on my arse, to be honest,” she laughed. “But it was fair enough, I had to beat better players. I was young, but when you’re young you just want to play, you don’t see the reason for you to sit on the bench.
“That year I played with Michelle Heyman and Aivi Luik, they were the first Australians I played with. It was an eye-opener for me. I was like: ‘Why on earth are you guys coming to Denmark? Why do you come to our league, and why do you want to play here?’ “From their point of view, they were coming for an experience and to play in the Champions League, because we always played in the Champions League every single year. They were nice, they were funny. Aivi was so nice to me, she was like a big sister.
“Since then, I’ve actually played with players who know Aivi really well, so it’s kind of funny how small the world is sometimes. It is so cool other people have the same impression of her that I have. There were a lot of girls in that team looking out for me, but I looked up to her because she was always so nice, and understood it was difficult to be young, and not playing as much as you wanted to.
“She was just so funny to be around, so it was good for me to be around someone who could joke a lot, and had a lot of different life experiences. I was listening a lot to her, and trying to learn from her in a way. They were both really, really good players,” she continued. “They worked so hard every single day. Michelle, every single time she got the ball she ran and scored goals. I was so impressed by both of them. That was a big experience for me. I have been watching them since on Instagram and things like that, and it’s amazing (to see) their careers and where they’ve gotten to today.”
Leth Jans heeded Luik’s advice, and waited for her moment to break into the Brøndby first team, studying physiotherapy from the early morning until the afternoon each day before joining her Brøndby teammates for training in the evenings. She would go on to feature prominently in the senior side, whilst becoming an important member of the Danish international side. The defender sealed her move to City off her Brøndby form, but the subsequent diagnoses for her parents eventually saw her return to Scandinavia to be closer to family and friends.
She would play for Swedish sides FC Rosengård and Vittsjö GIK before plucking up the courage to venture further from home once more, travelling across the world to join Perth Glory ahead of the 2021/22 Liberty Womens A-League season. It’s an adventure which contradicts Leth Jans’ decision to put proximity to family ahead of her wanderlust. But with time comes the healing of old wounds, and the willingness of her to dip her toes back into the water, if only for a mere matter of months.
“It sounds so funny to say I need to be close to my family and then travel around the world,” she said. “I have a husband back home, and we’ve been together for nine and a half years now and been married for one and a half. He went with me to Manchester and has always respected me choosing football, but after all of this happened, I wanted to be closer to him and also have that physio education – I (now) work at a clinic back home.
“To have all of that outside of football, and still combine it with football, it doesn’t work out for me to make a long-term contract… (but) going here for four or five months gives me an experience, and something I’ve dreamt of for a lot of years. I get away, try that professional life, experience something new, but it’s not for one year, it’s not for two, it’s just a short period of time. That’s why I decided to go to Australia, it seemed like the best solution for me to combine being the professional, the daughter, the friend, the wife, and the physiotherapist back home.”
GLORY WOMEN HIT BY COVID
Perth Glory women’s squad has been hit by COVID-19 with three players and two staff testing positive. However, Sunday’s scheduled game against Newcastle Jets is still going ahead at this stage as an A-League team must have five players test positive before it can be postponed.
Glory, who have been in Sydney since the start of the month, confirmed the five positive tests today. “With the group currently based in Sydney the five individuals and those close to them are adhering to NSW Health directives,” the club said.
“At this stage, Glory’s next scheduled Liberty A-League fixture against Newcastle Jets at No. 2 Sportsground on Sunday 16 January, will still go ahead as planned. The club is currently working closely with NSW Health and A-Leagues to ensure the health and safety of all its players and staff as its top priority.”
WESTERN SYDNEY CONFIRM WILLIAMS HAMSTRING TEAR
The A-League Men of Western Sydney Wanderers captain Rhys Williams appears to be over with scans confirming the severity of a hamstring injury suffered on the weekend. The experienced defender collapsed in agony before being taken off the field on a stretcher in the 78th minute of Sunday's clash with Melbourne City.
Scans have since confirmed a rupture of Williams' hamstring tendon, an injury that usually takes at least three months to recover from. It's a setback for the ex-Middlesbrough and Melbourne Victory player who has had a long history of injury concerns during his career, which cost him a spot at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
JONES NAMED VICE-CAPTAIN OF BOLTON
Defender Gethin Jones is to take over as Bolton Wanderers' vice-captain as he moves towards a first-team return. The 26-year old right-back has been out of action since October after suffering a leg fracture but is due to step up his comeback with the reserves this week.
Manager Ian Evatt confirmed Jones - who signed a new contract with Bolton in November which ties him to the League One club until 2024 – will take on number two role to captain Ricardo Almeida Santos. This comes following the departure of Eoin Doyle for St Patrick's Athletic.
"We have missed him immensely in the last few months and we're delighted to have him back," said Evatt. "Gethin is a wonderful person and a leader. He's a big part of our group and we’ve missed him. He will take over Eoin's vice-captaincy and his leadership qualities are something we’ve missed."
HINTZEN READY FOR GLORY CHALLENGE
Perth Glory’s American striker Cyera Hintzen is fresh from playing her first games in the Liberty Womens A-League competition, this after completing her covid quarantine. She sat down last week to speak to ‘Edge of the Crowd‘s’ Ben Gilby about her growth as a player and how happy she is to be in Australia with the Glory. The 24-year-old headed to Australia after representing the USA at under-19 level and played UEFA Champions League Football for Icelandic champions Valur.
She will be of the more experienced players in Alex Epakis’ young squad, and coming ‘Down Under’ was something that was on her wish list for some time. “I always wanted to play in Australia before I graduated college, I had seen former teammates and friends do it and they always talked about how good an experience it was for them,” she explained. “Playing overseas was always something I looked forward to doing throughout college and Australia was one of those places where I could become a better player, learn new things, and also have an unreal experience in a place that many people dream of going to.”
The striker has learned a lot from the beginning of her career. Whilst she certainly has not had it easy, her past experiences have helped her to develop both on and off the pitch. “A lot has changed for me from junior football to now, I feel like when I was younger, I was looked over a lot and was nervous about what my future would look like,” Hintzen said. “Now each year I’ve grown more than the previous year which feels good because as a person and athlete you always want to improve in everything that you do. I think things changed for me in college, my understanding and vision of the game really improved which I think has helped me now as I transitioned professionally.”
With Hintzen new to the A-League Women this season, she is well-placed to offer an opinion on the quality of the competition and her new club. “It is a great league, we are all surrounded by great players and many have so much experience whether that be in Australia, with their national teams or internationally,” the striker said. “My favourite part about the game is, everywhere I go, it is an opportunity to learn from the players around me and continue to take that information with me. It’s physical here and I’ve noticed a lot of games where there are a lot of goals, so as a striker it’s exciting. For our team, I believe we are capable of more and putting together a full 90 minutes. But we are definitely working on that and trying to improve on things we want to do differently each week.
“We also have a lot of new players playing together for the first time, so we are getting better with the chemistry each game and it will continue to improve the more we play together. I want to learn from the girls and help the team as much as I can to reach our goals as a team. With my experience internationally, I hope some of my information or things I do can be helpful to players on our team as well. I want us to compete and battle every game and help improve from last season. Alex (Epakis) is a great coach, and he is all in with the team and he believes in us as a team and individuals. The thing that stands out to me is how much he truly wants the best for all of us and if there is anything we need, he is always there. It’s nice to have a coach who genuinely cares about us.”
On top of moving to a new country and being part of a new team, Hintzen has the additional challenge of spending at least the next month with her team based in a hub in North Sydney due to Covid restrictions on the Western Australian state border. However, it’s a situation that she sees positives in. “For me, it’s exciting because this is my first time in Australia. Being able to live in Perth and stay in Sydney for five weeks is kind of a plus in my eyes because it’s all so new and exciting for me to travel and explore,” she said.
“It’s a fun experience because this is a challenge that we all get to face together as a team. Our team is very good at supporting one another and being there for each other if we ever are struggling, which is nice, especially in a time when you can feel a bit isolated. The only downside is with COVID, everything is a little different and I know my experience might not be the same as it would’ve been a few years ago. We are all hesitant to go anywhere because we don’t want to put ourselves or the team at risk, so there’s not much to hub life besides training, going on walks, and cooking dinner with your roommate.”
With Perth Glory having won two and drawn one of their opening five matches, the team harbour realistic hopes of challenging for Final’s football this season. Hintzen is positive that if the team keeps improving and sticking together, then good things will happen. “We need to battle in every game and not take anyone lightly. We need to be working together and for each other, not individually,” she explained. “I never like to say how many games we should win or “if we win this game, then this will happen” because I like to focus on one game at a time. As a team, I think if we work hard for each other, play our game and focus on one game at a time, then good things will happen for us this season.”
FFA CUP NOMINATIONS AVAILABLE
The nominations for West Australian teams in the 2022 FFA Cup preliminary rounds are now available. Last season Floreat Athena pushed A-League side Adelaide United all the way in the Round of 16, before losing in extra time at E&D Litis Stadium, while ECU Joondalup were edged out by South Australian Adelaide Olympic at Dorrien Gardens. Football West is now seeking team entry nominations for the 2022 FFA Cup
Over 750 clubs nominated in 2019, (last season was cancelled due to covid), with the opportunity for the minnows to advance from the early rounds and have a chance to play the big boys, and there has been a number of shocks over the years, including Perth Glory’s loss to Heidelberg United in 2017, and in this season’s competition APIA Leichhardt beating Western Sydney Wanderers. The WA State League teams automatically enter at the Round Three stage, with NPLWA sides joining at Round Four.
The two teams who reach the preliminary final, which will double as the State Cup final, will join A-League side Perth Glory as WA’s representatives in the 2022 FFA Cup national Round of 32. Preliminary round dates - Round 2 - 25 -27 February, Round 3 - 18-20 March, Round 4 - 22-25 April, Round 5 (midweek) - 17-19 May, Quarter-final (WA Day/midweek) - 6-9 June, Semi-final (midweek) - 21-23 June, Final - 25 July. Nominations close 10am Monday 24 January 2022 - All queries to be directed to email@example.com
LEAGUE LEADERS TOO STRONG FOR GLORY
Perth Glory’s third Liberty Womens A-League game in the space of a week has ended in a 4-0 defeat against league leaders Sydney FC at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday. Coming off the back of a tough 0-0 draw with Canberra United on Wednesday, Alex Epakis’ side were on the back foot from the start with the hosts racing to a 3-0 lead with goals from Mackenzie Hawkesby, Cortnee Vine and Remy Siemsen in the first 25 minutes. Despite improving after the break, they couldn’t find a way back into the game, with Charlize Rue adding a fourth for the hosts.
Head Coach Alex Epakis felt his side never recovered from a slow start. “It wasn’t good enough,” he said post-match. “We gave them [Sydney FC] the onus, we allowed them to build momentum and we showed them too much respect. They are a good team, but I think we just allowed it to be too easy for them. It was a timid start and they got the goals… it was the most disappointing performance so far this season. I said at half-time we only really had pride to play for… and we did show some fight. But these are the performances we just can’t accept and we don’t want to have.”
Epakis made three changes to his starting eleven in response to the demanding fixture schedule, with Sarah Carroll, Sofia Sakalis and Sarah Cain coming into the side, with Cyera Hintzen and Hana Lowry missing out, while Alana Jancevski dropped to the bench. The hosts were on the front foot early and hit the front on 11 minutes, Vine finding Siemsen, her shot on the turn was saved by Courtney Newbon, but Hawkesby was quickest to react to the rebound to fire home.
They doubled their advantage six minutes later. Hawkesby was the provider this time, she played the ball into the path of Vine who eased past her marker and finished low past Newbon. The hosts added a third on 25 minutes, Sarah Hunter sent Vine down the line, she beat her defender and crossed to Siemsen who finished first time. The Sky Blues continued to dictate terms and Natasha Prior headed inches over the top, before Siemsen shot was deflected inches wide, but at the break the hosts were well on top.
Glory, who brought on Lisa De Vanna at the break to replace Poppie Hooks, needed a good start to get back into the game but three minutes in Sydney added a fourth. Hawkesby’s corner was met by Rule, who headed home powerfully. Glory went close moments later, De Vanna finding Susan Phonsongkham, but she couldn’t keep her shot down. Newbon then stood tall to deny second half substitute Maria Rojas, and ten minutes from time the hosts won a penalty.
Rojas shot hit the arm of Elizabeth Anton, and referee Casey Reibelt pointed straight to the spot. Hawkesby’s resulting penalty was superbly saved by Newbon. Glory continued to work hard and went close to a consolation goal six minutes from time, Gemma Craine and De Vanna combining, the latter seeing her shot flash inches over the top. But it was the Sky Blues who ran out easy winners, and moving them seven points clear at the top of the table. The Glory are back in action next Sunday (16 January) when they take on Newcastle Jets at No.2 Sportsground
Sydney FC: GK Jada WHYMAN, 3 Charlotte MCLEAN, 5 Ally GREEN (7 Angelique HRISTODOULOU 81'), 6 Sarah HUNTER, 8 Rachel LOWE (2 Mary STANIC-FLOODY 83') 10 Remy SIEMSEN (9 Maria ROJAS 61'), 11 Cortnee VINE (14 Paige SATCHELL 60'), 13 Natasha PRIOR, 15 Mackenzie HAWKESBY, 19 Charlize RULE, 20 Princess IBINI-ISEI - Subs not used: RGK Katie OFFER
Peth Glory: GK Courtney NEWBON, 2 Sarah CARROLL (18 Sadie LAWRENCE 59'), 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 7 Elizabeth ANTON, 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 12 Sofia SAKALIS (5 Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE 59'), 13 Sarah CAIN, 19 Poppie HOOKS (11 Lisa DE VANNA 46'), 24 Gemma CRAINE, 26 Mie LETH JANS (23 Alana JANCEVSKI 70') – Subs not used: RGK Morgan AQUINO - Referee: Casey Reibelt
IREDALE CALLS ON FANS TO MAKE FA CUP A 'REALLY ENJOYABLE DAY OUT'
Cambridge United left-back Jack Iredale is relishing the prospect of playing in front of a full house in this weekend’s FA Cup third round tie. The League One club will be backed by around 5000 travelling supporters when they face Newcastle United at what is expected to be a 52,000 capacity crowd at St James’ Park.
The atmosphere will represent quite a contrast from last season, where Cambridge secured promotion predominantly in empty stadiums. With further restrictions introduced last month, Iredale stated his relief that curbs on football crowds have not been imposed, particularly in the context of Saturday’s game.
“We didn’t really know if we were going to be allowed to have fans or not in the stadium, so everyone’s absolutely buzzing that there has been no regulations around that, and it’s looking like a healthy crowd, so we’re really excited for it,” he said. “Obviously it’s an incredible stadium, but it’s going to be so much better to experience that stadium with the atmosphere instead of behind closed doors.”
“There’s nothing better than a full house when you’re playing football. You get goosebumps when the crowd’s making that much noise, and you have to take a second to try and soak it in, but then you’ve got to block it out, and try and really focus on the game. It’s absolutely incredible (the 5000 travelling support). I’m really excited to see them all up in the clouds in the away end at St James’. Hopefully we can give them a really enjoyable day out.”
Cambridge have had some packed crowds at the Abbey this season following their promotion to League One. Fixtures against Ipswich Town, Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland drew crowds of more than 7,000, with Monday’s 0-0 draw against Portsmouth played in front of 6,832. Whilst not in the same bracket as Saturday’s contest, Iredale feels his side can draw on those experiences that they’ve had so far this season.
“I think as a team we’re thriving off being in those kind of environments,” the left-back added. “I think the first sell-out we had at the Abbey, we were a little bit deer in the headlights for a couple of minutes, but we’ve now had those experiences with big crowds, whether they’re for or against us. Obviously it’s going to be nothing compared to the 52,000 up there, but it is experience you can draw on, and we’ve just got to go up there and do our best.”
Cambridge take on a side who are currently second from bottom in the Premier League, having won one of their 19 league matches this season. The hosts’ takeover has brought fresh optimism to the club, with plenty of intrigue as to who the Magpies might sign in the January transfer window, but Iredale knows how tough a game it will be regardless of the starting eleven they face at the weekend.
“I thought they might’ve had (Kylian) Mbappe through the door, but that doesn’t seem to have happened just yet,” he joked. “Obviously we’re expecting a high quality opponent. I’m not sure how strong they’ll go, but it doesn’t matter, because we’re not going to change anything in that sense. We’re obviously expecting a really tough game, and hopefully a really enjoyable one for everyone involved.”
GLORY FACE FURTHER DELAY AS MORE A-LEAGUE GAMES ARE POSTPONED
Perth Glory’s stop-start season has taken another battering with the COVID-19 ravaged A-League postponing more matches. Glory are due to re-start their season against Wellington Phoenix in Sydney on 15 January but a number of the New Zealand squad have tested COVID-19 positive, meaning the game has now been put on hold.
Glory are waiting to see if a new opponent can be found but it is more likely they will face another frustrating wait. They played the last of their four games in mid-December before being sent into two weeks isolation when winger Pacifique Niyongabire tested COVID-19 positive in Brisbane and all squad members and staff were deemed close contacts. They have been training for a week.
Under A-League rules games can be postponed if five players test positive, but at least seven Wellington players are understood to have contracted COVID-19. Four game have already been postponed this weekend, namely Western United v Sydney FC, Western Sydney Wanderers v Perth Glory, Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne City v Macarthur. The women's clash between Newcastle and Melbourne Victory has been called off.
BOLTON’S JONES SET TO RETURN
Bolton Wanderers right back Gethin Jones is poised to be back in training later this week following a lengthy lay-off through injury. The 26-year old defender has been out of action since early October owing to a fractured fibula with is return delayed owing to the COVID-19 situation surrounding the club, despite him being injury-free.
Bolton were forced into the three-week break from fixtures last month following an outbreak of COVID-19 within the player group and backroom staff which resulted in over 20 positive cases. Perth-born Jones has made close to 150 league and cup appearances for Barnsley, Carlisle United and Bolton, amongst others, since moving to England as a youngster.
RUKAVYTSYA KEEPS BEERSHEBA ON TOP
A brace of goals by Nikita Rukavytsya has steered Hapoel Beersheba to a 3-0 Isaraeli Premier League victory over Bnei Sakhnin. The win maintains Beersheba's unbeaten start to the season - they've won twelve and drawn four from sixteen games to date - and keeps them on top the ladder with a two point advantage over Maccabi Haifa.
Rukavytsya, 34, has now tallied up eight goals in his last ten outings for Beersheba as he chases a third consecutive Golden Boot award. The Socceroos finisher is currently third behind Omer Atzili (Maccabi Haifa) on 11 goals, Alon Turgeman (Haifa) and Dean David (Maccabi) on 9 goals each, with ten regular season games remaining.
BROKEN NOSE WON'T STOP RIGBY
Perth Glory captain Natasha Rigby will wear a specially made mask to protect her broken nose in tomorrow’s A-League clash with Canberra United. The defender was left bloodied after copping an elbow to the face during Saturday’s lost at Adelaide United but but coach Alex Epakis says it will not stop the 28-year old from playing.
"It was a significant break given the elbow had a bit of force behind it," Epakis said. "But for those who know Tash, she's unbelievably strong and she's very brave. I think she's going to wear a protective mask. It's very difficult to be telling her that she's not playing. She just doesn't take that, she's raring to go. So medically she is cleared to play and she wants to play, so she will play."
Meanwhile, Matildas legend Lisa De Vanna will go through a last minute fitness test after missing the Adelaide loss with a hamstring problem. The veteran striker hasn't played since early December but has returned to full training and if she doesn’t feature against Canberra she could return on Saturday against Sydney FC.
"She'll be close to being involved tomorrow, but we've just got to get through the final session to see where she's at," Epakis said. "It's a balancing act. We want to have her playing, but we also need to make sure that when she can play, it's with impact. So if she's still going to be nursing anything, we won't risk it."
Victory over Canberra can leap fifth-placed Glory into third, but they have a quick turnaround to rectify defensive lapses that were exposed against Adelaide. “We’ve got to iron out a few things,” Epakis said. “The four goals were from breaks in play, not them playing through us or having really effective possession.”
“They came on the back of the pressure we allowed them to build. That’s something that we’ve scrutinised. I’m confident we’ll tighten up in those areas… We need to focus on what’s in front of us because so many things can change so quickly. If we put any mental energy in looking past what’s in front of us we’re wasting our time a little bit.”
GLORY TO PLAY CATCH-UP AFTER EXITING ISOLATION
The challenge of isolation is over. Now, Perth Glory face the challenge of regaining their match fitness as they look to play catch-up with the rest of the A-League and a backlog of fixtures. Glory had played four games for a win, a draw and two losses before being sent into quarantine after winger Pacifique Niyongabire tested COVID-19 positive.
Glory are 10th on the ladder, four points out of the top six and with six other sides already having played two more games. That gap will open further before Glory play their next game, expected to be against Wellington Phoenix in Wollongong, in two weeks. They will then play at least another four matches in four weeks while based in Sydney but nothing is guaranteed as the A-League season continues to be ravaged by the pandemic.
Veteran striker Andy Keogh and midfielders Osama Malik and Mitch Oxborrow have returned from injury. But the team is without experienced goalkeepers Brad Jones (calf) and Liam Reddy (shoulder), leaving the door open for youngster Cameron Cook, who made his debut in the 3-0 win against Melbourne Victory.
“The break has not done us any good,” coach Richard Garcia said. “There’s only so much the boys could do on bikes and whatever in isolation. If we had more time we would have given them a real blow-out in the first week or so and then build into it but we are literally going to have to go straight into game mode. We’ll just have to prepare as well as we can.”
“It’s a matter of getting their football legs back. We have lost a little bit and the boys will have to run on a bit of adrenaline. Hopefully they will be ready, I think they will be, they’ve done well, worked hard. The likes of Andy, Osama, Mitch - three senior guys coming into the frame - is fantastic when you’re going away for such a big period.”
Garcia said they were negotiating with A-League owners APL to avoid a crush of matches squeezed into a short period and for families to be allowed to join them in Sydney. “It’s going to be a real challenge for everyone,” he said. “We will do everything we can to ensure we don’t have to cram games into a short time like we did last year... There are a few guys keen to get families across. There won’t be many, maybe four or five, the guys with smaller kids.”
OXFORD’S WILLIAMS AVOIDS PLAY-OFF TALK
Ryan Williams is not making the mistake he made during his previous spell with Oxford United by predicting a play-off place. Oxford are amongst a handful of clubs in the mix pushing for a League One promotion play-off place come the end of the campaign.
Williams was with Oxford in 2013/14 when, with the team holding a ten-point buffer over their nearest rivals, he claimed they would be involved in the play-offs. Instead, Oxford finished the regular season in eighth position after losing ten and drawing one of their final 13 games.
Speaking after the mid-week win over Wimbledon, Williams bit his tongue when asked about Oxford's current position in the play-offs. "I've been in this position quite a few times before – last time I was here I said I'd eat my own hat so I'm not going to speak on that," Williams commented.
"I just think we should carry on the way we're going, playing good football with a lot of energy, everyone trusts each other – we've just got to keep the momentum if we can... We keep cracking on, trying to get more points and getting higher and higher up the table."
Williams has proven his versatility this season, playing at right back, in midfield and most recently, on the left wing. It's the first time in the former ECU Joondalup juniors' career that he has played with some sort of regularity on the left flank.
"I just make sure when the ball's on the other side, I'm trying to get in the box and become a second striker. I've never really played on the left too much, bits and bobs out there, but this is the first time I've played there for a few games. I'm enjoying it, I just want to play to be honest."
Williams also thinks United's style could help them if postponements due to COVID-19 see an increase in teams playing twice a week. "The way we play, it might suit us playing two games in a week as we do tend to keep the ball more than the other team," said Williams. "We've got to focus on what we can control, keeping everyone confident and ticking along."
GLORY BEATEN LATE BY ADELAIDE
It’s been a season of many highs and lows with the covid restrictions, but we saw some fantastic football and with the year coming to an end we would like to wish all our readers a Happy New Year. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all coaches and players, from most clubs, for their help during the season with comments and information for previews, reviews and reports, without this we couldn’t bring you a comprehensive coverage of the local game, and we hope you will continue next season. Stay safe everyone!!
Perth Glory’s perfect start to the Womens A-League season came to an end after a 4-2 loss against Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The hosts hit the front on the half hour with Chelsie Dawber on target, but new signing Cyera Hintzen levelled ten minutes later. Dawber regained the lead for the Reds in first half stoppage time, only for Alan Jancevski to level from the spot early in the second half. Both sides had chances, but it was the hosts who won it with Matilda McNamara and Emily Condon scoring late.
Glory Head Coach Alex Epakis said his side looked rusty after three weeks without a game, and knows there is room for improvement from them. “We were good enough at times, but there were times when we weren’t,” he said post-match. “It was an inconsistent performance, and I believe that not playing competitively for three weeks meant we didn’t have the edge we needed to manage the game from start to finish. The times we did play well, I really liked what we did and we were effective in phases. We are going to focus on that and eradicate the pressure we put on ourselves with cheap, silly turnovers. We know we can better.”
It was a tight opening with clear cut chances few and far between, but it was Glory who had the first real chance on 20 minutes. The lively Susan Phonsongkham getting in on goal, but her shot crashed off the post and Hintzen was unable to turn the rebound home. But in their first chance on goal, it was the hosts who hit the front. Condon picking out the unmarked Dawber, who finished clinically past Morgan Aquino.
The goal lifted the hosts and Glory had to defend deep, as the Reds looked for a second, but 13 minutes later Glory hit back. A quick break from Phonsongkham saw her cross to Hintzen, and the American striker finished with aplomb for a debut goal. But in stoppage time Adelaide regained the lead, with Dawber adding another quality finish, to send the hosts to the break with the lead.
Dawber went close again after the break, the Young Matildas midfielder wasted two good chances, but somewhat against the run of play Glory levelled. Gemma Craine was brought down by Kayla Sharples, and referee Rebecca Mackie pointed straight to the spot. Jancevski stepped up to take the resulting penalty, and it was heart in mouth time, the ball trickling over the line after Annalee Grove got a hand to it.
Glory had another shout for a penalty moments later when Phonsongkham was pulled down in the box, but the referee waved away their claims. Phonsongkham was a real handful and her curling effort on the hour was well saved by Grove, before the woodwork came to Grove’s rescue five minutes later, Hintzen’s long-range effort crashing off the crossbar. It looked like Glory would go on and win it, but the home side had other ideas and Fiona Worts’ shot from the edge of the box fizzed inches over the top.
Then on 77 minutes it was Adelaide who hit the front again, Worts’ corner was headed home by McNamara. The result was put out of reach of Epakis’ side, four minutes later, Condon curling home a stunning free kick from the edge of the penalty area. Worts’ thought the Reds had a fifth moments later, the English striker racing into the box and finished well past Aquino, but the referee disallowed the goal for a foul in the lead up. The Glory are back in action on Wednesday, when they take on Canberra United at Blacktown Football Park – kick off 2.05pm WST.
Adelaide United: GK Annalee GROVE, 2 Emily HODGSON, 3 Matilda MACNAMARA, 4 Kayla SHARPLES, 8 Emily CONDON, 9 Paige HAYWARD, 10 Chelsie DAWBER (19 Leia VARLEY 88'), 12 Nanako SASAKI (6 Reona OMIYA 88'), 13 Ella TONKIN (22 Emilia MURRAY 75'), 16 Dylan HOLMES (5 Emma STANBURY 69'), 23 Fiona WORTS - Subs not used: RGK Miranda TEMPLEMAN
Perth Glory: GK Morgan AQUINO, 2 Sarah CARROLL (5 Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE 46'), 3 Kim CARROLL, 4.Natasha RIGBY, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY (13 Sarah CAIN 63'), 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM ( 19 Poppie HOOKS 83'), 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 23 Alana JANCEVSKI, 24 Gemma CRAINE (12 Sofia SAKALIS, 73'), 26 Mie LETH JANS - Subs not used: RGK Courtney NEWBON - Referee: Rebecca Mackie
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This page was last updated on the 12th January, 2022