Archived News : March-April 2009



Lining up and matching skills with the best footballers in Western Australia is the realisation of a long-held ambition for Paul Van Dongen. Only months after captaining Canning City to the First Division title, Van Dongen says he is now living what he had for so long only dreamed. “Playing in the Premier League has been my goal since I joined Canning, so to finally be mixing it with the State’s best players is a challenge yet rewarding experience,” he said. “The Premier League demands a lot more of you, not just physically but mentally as well. And it’s that extra mental preparation that goes into each match that adds a whole new dimension you don’t really get to experience playing First Division football.”

Van Dongen is enjoying the opportunity to further develop as a player. “I don’t think you can grow as a player until you’re challenged to play outside your comfort zone and I’m really enjoying the chance to develop my footballing ability,” he said. “The competition for spots is much more hard fought within the club therefore lifting the intensity of training and producing a marked improvement in individual skill levels. I’ve been playing in the backline so far this year, which is a little different from my usual centre midfield role, but I’m relishing the opportunity to play on some of the best forwards the State League has to offer.”

For the past seven years the First Division is all Van Dongen has known, so he’s well placed to comment on what differences exist between the two tiers of semi-professional football. “There is a clear distinction between the two divisions which is mainly to do with the standard of football. Premier League is more streamlined, the ball movement is crisper, each players touch is better and the general pace of the game is a lot quicker,” he explained. “The other major variation is fitness. In the First Division an average team with superior fitness always seems to prove supreme, but in the Premier League every team is as fit as the next so it really comes down to formation, strategy and skill.”

For their first ever Premier League campaign Canning have set themselves the modest - and totally achievable - target of a mid-table finish. “Obviously our number one goal is staying afloat in the Premier league and being a part of the top flight for many years to come. We’re hoping to finish around mid-table and anything higher than that will be a great bonus,” said the team captain. “Our main objective is to go into every game knowing that we are capable of taking three points and trusting our preparation and hard work on the training track will get us over the line. Given our start to the season, I see no signs as to why a mid-table finish can’t be on the cards for Canning in 2009.”

Canning were unfortunate not to record their second win of the season last time out, Gary Bunting scoring late to snatch Armadale a share of the points. “It’s always devastating when you give away a goal in the last minute of the game, especially because we had just taken the lead moments earlier for the first time … it felt like a loss really,” commented Van Dongen. “We were slow to find our rhythm in the first half but once we settled into the game I felt we played some good football in patches, especially in the second half. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed with our work rate in the final few minutes, it’s something we did really well last year, finishing games strongly that is. But we were too casual after taking the lead and we paid the price.”

Fresh from a week’s break, Canning venture into familiar territory this Saturday with a trip to Mandurah City. “We know Mandurah the best out of all the Premier League clubs. We had some good rivalries with them back in First Division a few years ago and we’ve already squared up against them three times this year,” said Van Dongen, whose team beat Mandurah 3-1 just four weeks ago in the Cup. “They’re likely to be more difficult to defeat at home. Given our previous encounters, it’s likely to be a gruelling match with neither midfield being able to keep the ball for too long. I’m confident that our backline can nullify their constant attacks on goal and that our strike force should be able to come up with goods to get us the three points.”



The future looks bright for the six West Australian teenagers invited to attend an upcoming national team training camp in Canberra. Strong performances at the recent National Junior Championships by Leo Athanasiou (Cockburn City), Benjamin Hombert (Inglewood United), Pasquale Gioffre, Matthew Ntoumenopoulos (ECU Joondalup), Thomas Beadling (Perth SC) and Daniel De Silva (Stirling Lions) have put themselves in the frame for national team honours at Under-13 level. >From the four-day camp, being held at the Australian Institute of Sport from 7th May, a squad of twenty-two players will be selected to represent Australia at the AFC Under-13 Festival of Football being staged in Malaysia from 24th May.

Andrew Bettell of Football West is pleased that so many players from Perth have been chosen. "This truly shows the depth of talent that we have in WA. On a national scale we have only 10% of all registered players, yet this result sees almost 20% of the squad coming from our state," said the education and development manager. "Many of the players chosen for the Joeys squad have been participating in Football West's many development programs from a young age. These development programs have made these players well rounded and experienced on field, and clearly this was shown to scouts at the National Junior Championships"

Those invited to attend the Australia Under-13 training camp in Canberra are Richard Blanco, Noah Chianese, Vincent Giannini, Adrian Lara, Brandon Lundy, Kevin Ly, Jordan Nadalin, Reece Papadimitrios, Dylan Vandenberg, Jaiden Walker (New South Wales), Aiden Naughton, Conor O'Neill, Jordan Thurtell (Queensland), Jerome Dunphy, Thomas Hector, Christopher Skull, Benjamin Warland (South Australia), Jordan Brown, Anthony Laus, Dimitar Mitkov, Milos Ridesic, Lewis Smirlis, Haralambos Stamboulidis, Okan Nabi Tuna (Victoria), Leo Athanasiou, Thomas Beadling, Daniel De Silva, Pasquale Gioffre, Benjamin Hombert and Matthew Ntoumenopoulos (West Australia).



Former State Schoolboys defender James Hesketh has every confidence this season will be a successful one for Armadale. 24-year old Hesketh is back at Alfred Skeet Oval after a two-year absence and has put his enjoyment of the game as his number one priority. “All I want is to enjoy my football this season and play to the best of my ability, and right now all those things are travelling well,” said Hesketh, who played semi-professionally in Wales and the Netherlands. “It’s only a matter of time before we strike some results with the teams ability and attitude I really believe we will surprise a few clubs this year.”

Although he’s been at Armadale only a few short weeks, Hesketh can’t help but be impressed by the quality of the squad coaches Brad Hassell and Steve Robinson have assembled. “Armadale has traditionally been a working class football club with a reputation for playing with heart and pride,” said Hesketh. “That still exists today, however, with the experience and tactical knowledge of Brad and Steve the club has shown signs of being transformed into a quality State League team of great ability and potential. And there are a lot of hard working people at Armadale who are helping the club move forward to develop and succeed and it’s great to be part of it.”

For the previous two campaigns Hesketh had been based at Mandurah, who he helped win the First Division title in 2007. “I’m a Mandurah boy so it was great to be local and help them gain promotion to the Premier League,” he said. “But I felt due to the size and strength of the Mandurah squad this year it was in my best interests to move on. I want to be competing at the highest level which means playing first team football, but after the Night Series it began looking like I’d be on the outer in regards to that at Mandurah. So after an approach from Brad Hassell I decided to go back to Armadale.”

Gary Bunting’s late strike earned Armadale a 1-1 draw with Canning City last time out and, with the team slowly gathering momentum, Hesketh is sure it’ll to be sooner rather than later that they pick up their first win of the season. “We’ve got a good mixture of youth and experience. Andy Bowyer, Cyril Sharrock, Jason Goodwin and Peter Lord provide us great stability with young lads like Ryan Pearson and Liam Harvey as well as Marlon Ramirez and Mo Atak giving us great pace and exposure,” he said. “After the team gels together - and that won’t be long - we will climb up the league. I can’t pick where we’ll finish, however, I always have the top four play-offs in mind - that would be great!”

Armadale head to Swan United on Saturday for an important bottom of the table encounter. With Swan struggling in front of goals and leaking them at the opposite end of the park, Armadale have good reason to be confident of claiming victory. “This week’s game will be a definite battle as both teams are in need of a win to progress in the league,” said Hesketh. “I believe we will come out on top, the lads are shaping up for a win and on a personal level it would be great to have a clean sheet. I’m confident we will get some deserved points but I also know it is not going to be three easy points.”



Stuart Montgomery is targeting next month's second round Soccer Pools Cup fixture with Stirling Lions to make his return to football. A minor knee procedure has prevented the veteran goal scorer from featuring in his clubs last two games, and it'll be at least another four weeks before he's ready to strap on the boots. "I started running this week and I just have to take it from there. The surgeon is saying it'll be about four weeks before I can think about playing again," said Montgomery. "I had a meniscal tear, the cartilage in my knee that is torn and needed to be trimmed and cleaned out. The operation went well. I'm not sure how the injury happened but I had the same thing happen a year and a half ago, it's probably just overuse and all the years of twisting and turning taking it's toll ... getting old as I like to call it!"

The Gulls injury list has grown steadily since the start of the regular season with Brodie Martin (ankle), Lewis Flatt (knee), James Morgan (knee), Daryl Platten (knee) and Stuart Banks (hip) joining Montgomery on the sidelines. "The feeling around the club is still upbeat despite all our injuries, we have enough quality players to make up for those missing and it gives some young guys a chance to make a name for themself," said Montgomery. "Reece Vittiglia is a prime example, he came into the side against the Lions and scored two, then against Floreat was used in a wide role and did really well, he's a very talented young player and has certainly taken his chance. In the next few weeks we'll have all our injured players back training and pushing for a place in the side and it's that competition for places and that brings the best out of players."

Armadale head to Swan United on Saturday for an important bottom of the table encounter. With Swan struggling in front of goals and leaking them at the opposite end of the park, Armadale have good reason to be confident of claiming victory. “This week’s game will be a definite battle as both teams are in need of a win to progress in the league,” said Hesketh. “I believe we will come out on top, the lads are shaping up for a win and on a personal level it would be great to have a clean sheet. I’m confident we will get some deserved points but I also know it is not going to be three easy points.”



The stars of yesteryear will straps on their playing boots one more time for Western Australia when they play Malaysia in the Bob McShane Cup at Dorrien Gardens on Thursday 7th May (6.30pm). Inaugural Perth Glory trio Bobby Despotovski, Craig Naven and Paul Strudwick, dual Gold Medallist Norrie Sutton and Golden Boot winner Peter Murphy will be amongst those taking to the park for the last outing for the squad prior to next months Seniors World Cup in Thailand.

Football Tennis Australia is the exciting new venture for former Perth Glory trio James Robinson, David Tarka and Mark Lee. Designed to improve touch and on ball dexterity, football tennis is played all over the world and will shortly be coming to Perth. Local junior, youth and senior players will get the opportunity to improve their overall skill and fitness levels by participating in upcoming 2v2 tournaments - stay tuned for further details or register your interest now at

Mandurah City has added Perth Glory utility Hayden Doyle to their playing roster. Raised in Bunbury, Doyle made four senior appearances for Glory last season and will be a valuable addition in Mandurah's push for silverware. Prior to joining Glory, the now 20-year old served a two-year apprenticeship with English club Stoke City which was followed by a spell with Niki Volou in Greece.

A serious knee injury is likely to keep James Morgan out until at least the middle of the season. The nuggetty midfielder has not trained or played since tearing knee ligaments during Sorrento's Charity Shield loss to Western Knights at the beginning of March. Morgan will recommence training within the fortnight, and is hopeful of returning to the playing arena for the second half of the Premier League season.

World Cup winner Denilson and Uruguay international Alvaro Recoba are the latest players linked with a move to Perth Glory. Media reports have suggested 31-year old Denilson, capped 61 times by Brazil, may join Glory for a short-term guest stint. Recoba, 33, is a free agent after leaving Italian giants Inter Milan at the end of last season and is reported to have expressed an interest in reviving his career in Australia.



Adelaide United will fight a hostile raid from Dutch champion AK Alkmaar to retain young goalkeeper Mark Birighitti. The A-League club is far from impressed by the "insulting offer" tabled by Alkmaar following Birighitti's ten-day trial with Alkmaar, who has qualified for next season's Champions League. "They have made an offer which wasn't adequate for the player Mark is," said Reds football director Michael Valkanis. "You don't really find an under-21 keeper capable of being a senior number one. We could look all over the league but we won't find an under-21 keeper as good as Mark - he's the future of Australian football. They are trying to take him away on the cheap from us and, at some stage, the A-League clubs have to make a stand. We deserve more respect."

Senior figures at Adelaide such as Aurelio Vidmar and Carl Veart, who both played professionally in Europe, have advised Birighitti not to be seduced by initial overtures. "At 18, you would be excited about going over to Europe but we can offer him advice from people who have played at highest level and that is not to rush. He has to make the right decision," Valkanis said. "What we have learnt is it's best to try to establish yourself in Australia before you go over. Mark has a big year coming up. He has to look at the bigger picture where he could be part of an A-League first team and should cement a national team spot to go to the under-20 World Cup."



A place in the bottom half of the Premier League table is not where Armadale belong according to defender Shannon Dally. The big New Zealander joins the club last season and has seen enough to know the Reds are capable of much more than the eleventh spot they currently occupy. "Obviously at the moment we're not were we would like to be on the table," he said. "We have a long season ahead of us and have high expectations - Armadale is not here just to make up the Premier League numbers anymore. The club have made great strides over the past twelve months and we need to continue on with it this season."

Armadale looked like collecting their first win of the season against Canning City a fortnight ago before the visitor's late surge produced a tense 2-2 draw. "We were all pretty disappointed with the draw at Canning; we should have walked away with three points there," he said. "It was a long hot day for everyone involved and the early sending off of Mo Atak in the second half didn't help our cause. But I'm very confident we will win against Swan by a convincing margin in round four."

The Reds lost only once in ten games at the end of 2008 and it's exactly that consistency they're looking to rediscover. "We were really happy with the second half of the season, and we managed to snare quite a few points towards the end and off some of the glossier teams," commented Dally. "We have kept some of the quality players from last year and, like most clubs, have had few players down trialling. We have signed a few experienced and influential players and, personally, I'm enjoying playing alongside and learning from players like Peter Lord and assistant coach Robbo (Steve Robinson."

Dally missed a few games last season due to injury but is focusing on the successes of 2008 and establish himself as one of the State League's premier defenders. "I'm still having a few troubles with my injuries at the moment, but I've worked really hard over the off season to remedy these," he explained. "I need to stay injury free this year because I have worked hard to raise my level of football ... I'd like to be seen as a threat to other teams in the league and be a recognised defender in the State League."



Scott Neville believes Perth Glory’s mouth-watering pre-season clashes against English Premiership opposition will be an invaluable learning experience for him and his new team mates ahead of the new A-League season. The former Sorrento defender, one of several local youngsters recruited by Glory, is jumping out of his skin at the prospect of playing two teams from England’s elite. Newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers have been confirmed for a July date with Glory, who are working towards bringing Fulham to Perth around the same time.

Friendlies with Wolves and Fulham will be ideal preparation for Glory’s 2009/10 campaign. “It should be entertaining and exciting,” Neville said. “The striker for Wolves, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, he’s scored 25 goals this year, it should be interesting to see how good he really is, see his movement off the ball and how fast he is. That’s what you strive for, to play against those types of players and just try to learn as much as you can. I want to soak in as much information from them because they’re obviously pros at the highest level and that’s what you’re aiming to achieve.”

A restful off-season has allowed Neville to shake off a troublesome groin problem. “It was just overuse,” admitted Neville. “I’d played two or three seasons straight and there was just some moderate impact on the groin around the bone. I played a lot of games and was training twice a day last year and I’m still growing so it affected the groin a bit and it basically just needed a rest. Luckily it happened right at the end of the season so I could just rest it and make sure I do everything right so now that it’s time to come back to training it’s good again.”

It has been an impressive rise through the ranks for Neville who, this time last year, was starring in the local stage for Sorrento. The youngster, who won Glory Youth’s player of the year award and made a handful of first team appearances last term, hopes his experiences can be a beacon for the many other talented players in the state who are chasing their football dream. “It’s just awesome, anything can happen in football,” he said. “You can have a couple of good games and get spotted and the Youth League is just such a good chance for everyone that plays in it to shine and get their chance in the first team. It’s just a great opportunity for everyone.”



Turkey has won the inaugural ANZAC Day Australia-Turkey friendly series. While the Australian Under-17 team lost both matches in Canakkale, Turkey, the series was well supported and played in a spirit reflecting the ANZAC tradition. Around 1,000 fans watched each of the matches, with Friday's opening match attended by Australian and Turkish government officials. The only goal arrived midway through the second half with Ilker Sayan earning the host nation victory. Two days later, Kerem Bulut put Australia ahead shortly after half-time only for Artun Akcakin's two-goal brace to secure Turkey a 2-1 win. Discussions have begun in relation to dates, venues and which age groups will line up in next year's series in Australia.



Having finally emerged from the shadow of Mark Schwarzer at club level, goalkeeper Brad Jones now intends to unseat his friend and role model in the national team. Jones joined Middlesbrough in 1998 - a year after Schwarzer - but had to be content with playing second fiddle to the Socceroos number one until his transfer to Fulham last June. That move opened the door for 27-year old Jones to finally establish himself between the posts with Middlesbrough, and he’s not about to stop there. “If you don’t look as far forward as you can to get to the top then it’s not worth being here,” Jones told Stephen Brown of the ‘Sunday Sun’. “I’ve had a run of games now, I feel I’ve done OK, and the next step I’ve got to look forward to is the national team.”

With just a single full cap to Schwarzer’s 65, Jones has one eye on next year’s World Cup in South Africa. “First of all I’ve got to get in there on a regular basis, the national team manager (Pim Verbeek) has been good and told me I’ve got to be playing if I want to get in the squad,” added Jones, whose played 16 of Middlesbrough’s 19 games this year. “He says he’s not going to pick me if I’m not playing and that’s absolutely fine, you know where you stand. The next step’s to get in the squad and after that you obviously want to push to get a game. I’ve been patient behind Mark before and I might just have to do that a little bit longer with the national team.”

Jones has no regrets about the new deal he signed with Middlesbrough in December that keeps him at the club until 2012. “It was a difficult one because when you’re not playing you look at things and think ‘Am I going to get a chance? Should I move on?’. But the manager’s always been honest and I’ve got coaches here, like Stephen Pears, who I’ve got a lot of time for,” he said. “It got to a point where I was happy here, and moving doesn’t always guarantee getting what you want. It gets frustrating when you’re sat on the bench. Sometimes you feel like you can’t contribute, but at the moment I’m happy to be playing. The club have always looked after me so I was happy to stay, and I’ve no regrets.”



Team manager Ante Kovacevic is pondering how best to tackle the daunting prospect of Perth Glory playing three times in just six days early next year. A staggered Round 19 means Glory venture to Melbourne Victory on Saturday 16th January, play at Adelaide United three days later before hosting Wellington Phoenix on Friday 22nd January. "It's a tough one, there's no ideal scenario, but that's the way it is now and we're going to have to live with it and try to do our best in terms of recovery and preparation for the next game," Kovacevic said.

Kovacevic, a veteran of over 300 national league games, has gone so far as to suggest some players will miss playing in Adelaide in order to head home and prepare for the Friday night clash with Phoenix. "That's where a squad comes into it," he commented. "At that stage of the season the boys are generally carrying niggling injuries - there's not many players running around 100 per cent fit and firing. If we need to wrap a player or two up in cotton wool and need them for the game three days later, we might have to send them back to Perth ASAP."



The West Australian football community could be served a rare treat with Perth Glory making preparations for two English Premier League teams along with former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler to visit Perth in July. A game with Wolverhampton Wanderers, who recently won promotion to the Premier League, is already secured while Glory are believed to be close to finalising a friendly against Fulham around the same time. Owner Tony Sage also revealed the club had approached A-League newcomer North Queensland Fury, who recently signed Fowler, to take part in the feast of football.

Perth has not hosted two top-flight English teams in the same year since Nottingham Forest and West Ham United were beaten by the State team in the space of eight days at the WACA Ground in May 1995. "If everything comes together as planned, the real soccer fans of this State will be in for a treat and I don't think we'll look back from that moment on," Sage said. "We are going to have two Premier League teams playing in Perth in the middle of the AFL season and you can't get any bigger than that."

If Sage's ambition plan comes to fruition and the concept is successful, Glory will try to entice one of the United Kindgom's big-four clubs - Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal - to Perth next year. "It would cost a lot more but I want to make this an annual event for Perth," said Sage, who has stumped up around $1 million to underwrite the current project. "Once we are at that level, the fans will realise that I'm serious about this and they'll buy their memberships and we'll be very successful."

But Sage warned that he would heed the message if fans failed to turn out. "I need to know there's that much support in Western Australia for this type of game and that there's the support for football," he said. "If we only get 10,000 to Members Equity Stadium it will prove to me that football won't work in this State. But we've already had a lot of interest in the Wolves match - we've had about 200 emails from England and around 700 from within Australia - and I believe the fans will turn out."



Hull City midfielder Richard Garcia is desperate to avoid revisiting the relegation nightmare he endured at West Ham United six year ago. The Tigers chances of surviving in England’s top tier are lengthening with games against Liverpool, Aston Villa, Stoke City, Bolton Wanderers and Manchester United in the final weeks of the English Premier League season. But Garcia is using the pain of sliding down a division with the Hammers as motivation to play his part in avoiding another tumble through the trapdoor. “It was crushing for the players and the clubs … we didn’t even begin to get over it until the next pre-season and it took us two seasons to get back into the Premiership,” he said. “It’s hard to describe how bad you feel and I don’t want to feel like that again - and I don’t think I will because I’m confident we can claw our way out of the situation we’re in.”

After winning six of their first nine games, the now toothless Tigers have won just one of their last seventeen league fixtures and are just three points ahead of third-bottom Middlesbrough. “It’s tough for sure when you get both Liverpool, Villa and Manchester United in the run-in but whether you are going for the title or trying to stay up, it’s always really testing,” he added. “But we believe we belong now at this level and our confidence hasn’t been affected too much by the lack of wins. There are a few nerves here and there for sure but the boys are still buoyant and the belief is still there. I think 38 or 39 points could be enough to stay up (Hull currently have 34). We have players who are prepared to go into war and we’ll need that attitude if we're going to stay up. I think it’s looking good and it's still all in our hands.”



AZ Alkmaar have confirmed they are looking to reinforce their team for next season by bringing in former Perth SC goalkeeper Mark Birighitti. The 18-year old is currently under contract to A-League outfit Adelaide United but impressed in recent trials with the newly-crowned Dutch champions. Birighitti, who also has an Italian passport, is likely to initially join Alkmaar on a loan deal with a view to him starting in the youth ranks. "Mark was on trial here, and we would like to give him a chance for a season," Alkmaar technical director Marcel Brands told "We have told his club that we are willing to pay them a fee for that, but they talk about numbers which we will always reject. He is a young guy and because of his double nationality, he can start in Europe without a problem." Aklmaar is already home to Australians Brett Holman, Joey Didulica and youngster James Holland.



Michael Di Fulvio is back in the swing of things at Bayswater City. The first team coach took a month's leave to celebrate the birth of his first child and, now back at the helm, he's striving to find the happy medium between family, work and football. "To be honest, it's been quite tough - most nights I go from work straight to training and by the time I get home Natasha is asleep but I try and make the most of the time I have with her and my wife, Bianca, who is thankfully very understanding and supportive of whatever I do," said the Bayswater coach.

Di Fulvio's dream of guiding Bayswater back into the top flight has gathered momentum of late with the arrival of Ian Griffiths, Bobsom Koroma and brothers Anthony and Tommy Jones. "We've acquired four players who all bring something different to our team, and each fills a hole left by players who've left our setup since January," said Di Fulvio. "They are quality players, but more importantly they are quality people who you want around your club. They all are experienced at Premier League level and bring more leadership to our team, all with very different styles and backgrounds."

And the coach’s job is set to become that little more difficult as players come off the injury list. "We've had a horror run, but that's football. So far this year we haven't got any game time out of club captain Jason Lawton, Damir Kudozovic, Morgan Dendle or Michael Filipou. Ahmed Hafez is yet to return to full fitness as well as Ryan Frisina and Daniel Vangeloski," said Di Fulvio. "We have lost a lot of leadership and stability in the match day squad, especially our defence which was a big feature of our game last season."

On the flip side, Di Fulvio has had to content with the retirement of veterans Adrian Sutton and Tony Cumace along with long-term injuries that have claimed Daniel Cagorski and goalkeeper Papalia. "These are all massive losses, in the space of a few weeks we've lost hundreds of games worth of experience," said Di Fulvio. "Each player added a different dimension to the team, they are the types of player who has the ability to control games and change results with flashes of brilliance. We don't pretend that these guys are not gone, but it does give other players a chance to grow into leaders at our club."

Di Fulvio says the back-to-back losses which opened Bayswater's season provided his players a timely wake-up call. "Since the Night Series we have been very flat, I was very disappointed with the results against Gosnells and Forrestfield," said Di Fulvio. "There's perception that our team should do this and should do that but it's taken these losses to realise that hard work and attitude are the most important ingredients to success. We are all learning each week but the challenge for all of us to improve in some way each time we go on the track."

Bayswater finally got the monkey off their back by thrashing Queens Park 8-1 last Saturday. "It was a big relief. History has shown that we take so called 'easy' games very lightly and a key focus was for us to make sure we applied ourselves for the full 90 minutes," said Di Fulvio. "I was very happy more so for the boys who have worked hard and deserved the result. We certainly needed that result and the eight goals showed that the boys finally got back to enjoying their football after a difficult fortnight."



Pulling on the black and gold of Western Australia is an experience Jason Colli will never forget. The Inglewood United midfielder was rewarded for a stellar pre-season with his State team debut in last month’s 4-2 home defeat of South Australia. “To be asked to represent your State at senior level is always an honour, especially if it’s your first,” he said. “The game was a great experience, the team played the way we worked on and performed brilliantly. Robbie is a good coach who has a very good knowledge about football, and when he brought me on with fifteen minutes to go it was a real buzz and it’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.”

You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone at Inglewood that’s happy with how the new Premier League season has started. And while Colli is amongst them, the 25-year old believes the pieces are now beginning to fall into place. “This season has not started as well as we would have liked but we as team belief if we play to the best of our ability we can beat anyone on the day,” he said. “It’s never easy coming up against the defending champions (Sorrento) and one of the in-form teams in the competition (Western Knights). Yes, we were disappointed that we didn’t come away with at least three points from those two games, but it was good to see the boys bounce back against ECU on the weekend.”

That win over Joondalup, which came about through Alex Cocking and Rory Grant goals, can be the turning point in Inglewood’s season - if the players want it bad enough. “We had a hard week on the track knowing that we had to win and it was terrific to see the team get the result,” Colli said. “Now we must put that behind us and concentrate on the next match as in this league every game is no walkover. We have a few tough opponents coming in the next several weeks and we are all positive that we can win every game, and the win last weekend will hopefully be the beginning of a very good season for us.”

Colli missed the win over Joondalup through suspension and is hoping to reclaim his spot in time for next week’s visit to Perth SC. “It was disappointing, as whenever you get sent off you not only let yourself down but the team as well,” he said. “Although missing the win against ECU, it has made me even hungrier to get back into the team. I’m available for next week’s game against Perth as I only received a one-match ban. Perth are always a tough game as they have a lot of quality players and play very good brand of football so to beat them we will have to be at our very best.”

The future of Inglewood looks bright with a number of young players, including Jamie Mitsopolous, Alex Stamitiadis and Alex Cocking, grabbing their first team opportunities with both hands this season. “The young boys that have been coming in to the team have been doing a great job,” said Colli. “It’s a credit to Lee (Bamber) that he is giving them a chance and also to the boys as they have been working very hard in pre-season to get the opportunity. They still have a lot to learn but the pleasing thing is that they are all willing to listen to the coaching staff and senior players to help them become better players.”



Perth Glory has abandoned the second incarnation of its logo in favour of a more contemporary, yet traditional design under which owner Tony Sage hopes the club will return to its glory days. WA’s national league representative has adopted a solid shield design for the first time in its 13-year history, a style used by football clubs around the world, presenting a stronger look than that of either of its previous logos. While the addition of silver has given the logo a contemporary feel, the traditional purple and orange colours remain and the famous sunburst - a key feature of the original 1996 design - has made a comeback.

The club’s home town of Perth is also featured in its most prominent position ever, a feature the club was keen to include as it attempts a push into Asia via friendly fixtures, pre-season tournaments and the lucrative AFC Champions League. “We’re very pleased with the final outcome,” said Sage. “You can instantly recognise it as Perth Glory through the colours and key elements such as the sun rays and it definitely has a strong football feel about it. The logo is more contemporary and has a lively look which is particularly relevant in our business. Combining this logo with a squad of high quality players and revamped strip gives a fresh feel across the club on and off the field.”



Australia has missed out on securing the international career of Perth-born Rhys Williams. The 20-year old defender - currently on loan to Burnley from Middlesbrough - has emerged from Brian Flynn’s successful Under-21 set-up to knock on the door of the senior Welsh team. There had been speculation Australia would make a late play and snatch the defender from under Welsh noses, however, that now seems unlikely. “Obviously I’m Australian, but I enjoy playing for Wales. That’s where I am at the minute and that’s where I intend to stay - I don’t think I could switch now,” he told the ‘Western Mail’. “Wales have been good to me and I’ve made my decision to play here.”

FIFA regulations allow Williams to switch countries before he turns 21 in July, however, that seems highly unlikely. “Obviously I’m Australian, but I enjoy playing for Wales. That’s where I am at the minute and that’s where I intend to stay - I don’t think I could switch now,” he told the ‘Western Mail’. “Wales have been good to me and I’ve made my decision to play here, but it’s down to Wales to play me now. I thought I’d get a shout in one of the last two qualifiers, but it wasn’t to be. Hopefully I’ll get to play next time.”

Williams, who qualifies for Wales through a Welsh grandparent, is hopeful of winning his first senior cap against Kazakhstan at the end of May. “My family haven’t said anything to me, it’s my decision at the end of the day,” he said. “Like I’ve said, Wales have been there for me. I was a bit upset that I didn’t play last time in one of the matches because I’ve been doing well at Burnley. But it’s not me who picks the team so you’ve just got to wait and see. Wales have been good to me, I just want to keep progressing and hopefully I’ll get in eventually and play games.”

It was soon after signing a new two-year deal with Middlesbrough that Williams went on loan to Burnley to gain some first-team experience. Since that January move he’s played 14 times for the Clarets and is determined to add to the tally over the closing weeks of the English season. “I’m playing every week now and I feel that I’ve come on here,” said Williams. “I’m here until the last game of the league season. As it stands, I can’t play in the play-offs because it wasn’t part of the deal. I’d be gutted if that’s the case, but we’ll see what happens.”

Having lost 3-1 at Cardiff City on Easter Monday, Burnley are now locked into a battle for the last play-off spot with Lancashire neighbours Preston North End and Swansea City. Burnley holds a four-point lead over their rivals with three games remaining. “I do think we’ll get into the play-offs - if we keep playing the way we have, then we’ve got no problems,” he said. “The reason I came here was to get first-team experience and it’s worked out well. Hopefully when I do go back to Middlesbrough we’re still in the Premier League and I can get in the squad next season.”



Football West has re-scheduled the 2009 Cup Finals in order to avoid a conflict with Perth Glory's home game with North Queensland Fury. The State League Cup Final has been pushed back 24 hours to the afternoon of Sunday 4th October to accommodate the A-League fixture. The Amateur League Cup Final and the Women's Cup Final have also been switched, to Sunday 11th October.

ECU Joondalup are hopeful of having new signing Jamie Watt available when they Premier League season recommences next week. Watt, 30, has considerable experience from many seasons in Scotland’s Highland Football League where he is the all-time leading goal scorer for Deveronvale. He arrives at Joondalup fresh from topping the scorer charts at Cove Rangers last season.

Rockingham City are poised to sign former Premier League defender Marko Aleksic, who wishes to return to the club where he played football as a junior. Aleksic, a State Schoolboys representative, will strengthen and bring some much-needed experience to Rockingham backline. In related news, the club is trialling two brothers from Ireland who, if signed, could prove to be a couple of very strong attacking options.

Bayswater City has been dealt a blow to their title dreams with experienced defender Tony Cumace announcing his retirement from the game. Cumace, who savoured championship glory with Sorrento, cited injury and work commitments as his reasons for hanging up the boots. His retirement comes just two months after team mate Adrian Sutton brought the final curtain down on his career.



Ella Mastrantonio, Marianna Tabain and Samantha Kerr are in the running for further international honours following their invitation to attend this weekend’s Young Matilda’s training camp in Sydney. The Perth Glory Women trio are amongst 27 players coach Alan Stajcic has asked into camp as Australia prepares for the Under-19 Women’s Championships. “The camps are an invaluable part of our preparations for the Championships in August,” he says. “Not only is it important to give the players as much opportunity as possible to play together, but it also forms part of our selection process for the final squad that will head to China.” The Championships will also double as the qualification process for the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup being held in Germany next year.



Sending a stoppage time penalty past Chris Ramsey on Saturday put the icing on the cake of a memorable day out for Perth SC captain Todd Howarth. The late goal maintained Perth's winning start to the new season, but of perhaps greater importance to Howarth was it completed his first ever three-goal Premier League haul. "It's nice to score a few goals, in fact it's my first-hat trick in the Premier League, thanks to Greg Sharland for letting me take the last minute penalty to achieve it,” Howarth added. "It's always tough down at Swan but the lads played well and the ball was zipping around and we were pleased to come away with the points."

Successive league wins against Canning City, ECU Joondalup and Swan United carried on Perth's superb pre-season form which returned the Night Series trophy to Dorrien Gardens for the fourth year in a row. "I think it's the best start to the season we've had for a couple of years," commented Howarth. "It's always good to win the Night Series, and I really enjoy playing in the competition. The games are always exciting and it pulls a decent crowd. As for the league so far, obviously we can't complain about three wins from three and hopefully we can continue that trend."

It's been three years since Perth captured the regular season trophy and in attempting to end that barren spell the club have added quality in depth through a process of youth promotion and recruitment. "We lost a few players from last year so the coaching staff strengthened the squad with some quality local and overseas players, and we've also introduced some of our talented juniors too," said Howarth. "Michael Black has been a revelation in midfield so far this year coming up through the reserves, and Genaveo Human is another who has come up through the ranks and has been performing well."

On the recruitment side, Dom De Felice, Phil Arnold and Craig Simpson moved to Dorrien Gardens early in the off-season and were followed by Andy Bourakis, signed from Sydney Olympic, and Scottish imports Marco Pelosi and Gary Greenhill. "The competition for spots has increased and that can only be a good thing. The atmosphere amongst the current playing group is probably the best I've experienced in recent years at Perth so that should help us have a successful year," Howarth said.

The season may be only three games old but Howarth feels a number of teams have singled themselves out as potential Premier League champions. "I think there are a few teams who could win the league, seeing as though it will be decided by a top five play-off system," he said. "Western Knights looked very good in the Night Series and are always difficult to play against, their midfield is very strong. Floreat Athena is also another side to look out for; they're always up there and have made some good signings. They have some talented players and always play a good brand of football."



Perth Glory is reported to be on the verge of signing Derby County defender Andy Todd. Coach David Mitchell has made no secret of his interest in 34-year old Todd and views the former Blackburn Rovers captain a perfect candidate to fill one of the central defensive roles vacated by the departure of Hayden Foxe, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Dino Djulbic. “The boy Andy Todd, whose playing at Derby, we’ve been interested in him,” said Mitchell, who is currently in Europe on a scouting mission.

Todd enjoyed stints at Middlesbrough, Bolton Wanderers and Charlton Athletic before moving to Blackburn in 2002, winning the Player of the Year award twice and installed as club captain in 2004/05. He transferred to Derby for the disastrous 2007/08 Premiership campaign, which saw the Rams relegated back to the Championship and was subsequently loaned to League One outfit Northampton Town until January this year. Todd has since returned to Derby but is being linked with a move to Perth.



The State Under-13 Boys team are back from Canberra where they claimed fifth place at last weeks National Junior Championships. The young West Australian side competed strongly with their eastern states counterparts, winning three and drawing one of their seven starts, with several players putting themselves in the frame for national selection. "The boys performed fantastically in this high level tournament, and have proved their place among the top players in their age group in Australia," said coach Warren Grieve.

Grieve was glowing in praise for the team, who attracted the attention of national youth coach Ante Juric and Han Berger, technical director at Football Federation Australia. "All indications are that WA will have at least five players selected for the upcoming Australian camp from which the team will be selected for the Asian Festival of Football with perhaps as many as eight in the reckoning," commented Grieve. The tournament was taken out by New South Wales, who won all seven games by scoring 25 times without conceding once.

Ben Hombert, Anton De Francesch and C.MacKay were on target as the State side opened with a classy 3-0 defeat of the Australian Capital Territory last Sunday, 12th April. The following days 2-0 win against Northern New South Wales came courtesy of goals either side of the break from Matthew Ntoumenopoulos and Jack Iredale. Losses to New South Wales (5-0), Victoria (2-0) and Queensland (1-0) were arrested by a 1-1 draw with South Australia, where Tom Beadling was the scorer. Pearse McKee (2), Hombert, Daniel De Silva and Gareth Crawley netted in the comprehensive 5-0 final day win over Tasmania.



Perth Glory will undertake several extended trips to the east coast during their 2009/10 A-League season in a bid to alleviate the heavy burden of travel experienced in previous seasons. Club officials have worked closely with Football Federation Australia to ensure the welfare of Perth’s players was given the highest priority in the 27-match season. “The impact of travel can’t be underestimated and we are pleased that the FFA has acknowledged it as a significant issue faced by Perth Glory and accommodated a minimum six day break where possible,” said chief executive Scott Gooch.

The club will face a challenging opening to the season with trips to Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix prior to hosting Newcastle Jets in round three. “We’re disappointed that our members and supporters don’t get to see us play at home until round three,” said Gooch. “Getting off to a strong start will be paramount for the club and we are confident that the pre-season program we have in place, which includes matches against quality international opponents, and additional resources in the football department will serve us well for the upcoming season.”



Football Federation Australia and Football West have responded to growing concern about unacceptable behaviour in the modern game by launching the Respect campaign. Aimed at creating an enjoyable playing environment, Respect is a continuous campaign that allows people to play, officiate and watch football without being abused, mocked, insulted, jeered, physically assaulted and unnecessarily criticised. Respect is modelled on the English FA's campaign, which was implemented at the start of the 2008/09 season, and has been adapted to meet local needs. Further information on the Respect campaign is available from the Football West website.



The State Under-14 Girls team learned a lot about the trials and rewards of interstate football during last weeks National Junior Championships in Canberra. Although the side was unable to chalk up a victory during the seven-day tournament, coach Ann Gourley feels it was a valuable and positive learning experience for all involved. "With more experience in these sorts of tournaments, the girls will be able to show their skills against these higher level teams," said Gourley. "The girls performed well in the tournament, and we will be working on these skills to build more confident and experienced players for the future."

A scoreless draw with the Australian Capital Territory on match day one provided the team from the west a positive start to the tournament. A narrow loss to South Australia (1-0) was followed by the same outcome against New South Wales (2-0), Victoria (2-0) and Northern New South Wales (3-0). WA's solitary goal came from K.Stanbridge 46 minutes into the final day's 3-1 loss to Queensland. The tournament was won by New South Wales, who pipped State mates Northern New South Wales by two points. The squad will continue to develop and evolve by training together in a year round high performance environment.



Honours were shared in the derby at Willetton Sports Club where Canning City and Armadale played out a tight 2-2 draw in front of a healthy crowd. The game only really came to life in the closing stages when Canning scored twice only before Gary Bunting grabbed the visitors a last minute point. The opening period was one of very few chances with neither side giving the other so much as an inch. The hosts created a couple of chances but Michael Roger placed wide from 20-metres and Floyd Duffy was off target from even further out. It wasn’t until the 28th minute that the deadlock was broken when an incisive switch of play to the right found Mo Atak in acres of space, the attacker accelerated goal ward before driving high into the roof of Devon Spence’s net. The game quickly returned to stalemate and it took until the closing minutes of the half for the next decent chance to arrive through a Rory Mouttet kick-cross from the right but Duffy failed to connect.

A more purposeful Canning emerged after the break and on 53 minutes Simon Versaico crashed a header into the frame of Cyril Sharrock’s goal, and in the ensuing scramble the visitors managed to clear the danger. Armadale were delivered a serious body blow just after the hour when referee Ken Taylor issued Atak a red card for an incident involving Roberto Lujan. Canning kept piling on the pressure before drawing level with eight minutes to go, Duffy netting at close-range in a crowded goal area following a Mouttet corner. The game was now up for grabs and a sweeping move by the hosts found Duffy, he swept the ball on to Roger who turned one opponent to drive low past Sharrock and inside the far post. But celebrations had hardly subsided when the ball was put with Gary Bunting who evaded a couple of defenders, swivelled and blasted in a final minute equaliser from a narrow angle.



Floreat Athena made it three wins on the trot by seeing off reining Premier League champions Sorrento 2-1 in this evening’s fixture at Litis Stadium. A goal in each half from Branimir Mikulic secured the three points for Floreat, who remain locked with inner city rival Perth SC as the competitions only unbeaten teams after a trio of games. “Nine points from three games, you couldn’t ask for a better start going into the one week break,” said Floreat coach Michael Roki. “Bran came out with a real intent on playing well tonight and he’s come up with two good goals and he deserved them.”

It didn’t take long for Floreat to flex their muscle with Ante Kovacevic, John Migas and David Foster combining to set up Daniel Neiderberger who was let down by a poor first touch as he streamed into the 18-yard box. A Sorrento counter attack almost produced the goods on 14 minutes when Lewis Flatt’s delivery was met by Danny Hill’s downward header that Vas Vujacic parried, then kicked out for a corner as Hill approached for the rebound. Four minutes later Jason Barrera floated a free-kick in from the left which evaded Neil Young as Mikulic chested into the net to put Floreat one-up.

A few minutes later Miki Vujacic swung in a corner from the right which was headed from under the bar by Flatt to prevent the Gulls going further behind. A delightful exchange of passes created an opening for Sorrento but Reece Vittiglia was dispossessed as he entered the 18-yard box by Migas’ perfectly executed tackle. Floreat were in the ascendancy and should have doubled their lead when Barrera played the ball into the Foster but luckily for Sorrento his low centred came off Danny Cain and into the grateful arms of Young.

Sorrento came out from the break looking to equalise and it was only good defending by Jared Smith that prevented Steve McDonald from getting on the end of Michael Ord’s long ball. So it came as no surprise when Hill levelled the game with a downward header which bounced over the ‘keeper from Glen Thomas’ 50th minute corner. Floreat continued to push into their attacking half and weren’t without their chances with Barrera and Neiderberger sending long-range efforts past the target as they attempted to crack the game open.

The hosts reward on 69 minutes when Young rushed to the near post to collect a corner which Neiderberger flicked on and Mikulic steered his header into an empty net from all of a metre. There was still plenty of time for Sorrento to conjure an equaliser and with eleven minutes left Vittiglia’s pass deflected off Kovacevic to Hill but his low blast was well saved by Vas Vujacic. To rub salt into the wound, Sorrento defender Steve McDonald was issued his second yellow card for in the 89th minute for unnecessarily disputing a linesman’s call. Mikulic had a chance to secure what would have been a deserved hat-trick in stoppage time but his free-kick slammed into the defensive wall.



Ain inspirational Todd Howarth hat-trick has propelled Perth SC to was the inspiration behind Perth SC’s 4-1 demolition of Swan United at the Swan Italian Club. Howarth’s first ever Premier League hat-trick catapulted Perth to the top of the Premier league table where they sit alongside Floreat Athena as the competition’s only undefeated teams. “It’s always tough down here at Swan but the lads played well and the ball was zipping around and we’re pleased to come away with the points,” said Howarth. “It’s nice to score a few goals as well, in fact it’s my first hat trick in the WA Premier League, thanks to Greg Sharland for letting me take the last minute penalty to achieve it.”

The afternoon’s first opening came courtesy of a 4th minute Costa Socratous pass to Brendan Knox who was thwarted by Simon Madaschi’s courageous smothering save. Perth quickly settled to create a chance of their own but David Paone’s well-timed tackle prevented David Onoforo from getting away a shot after being played through by Antonio Naglieri. The visitors were seeing plenty of the ball and on the quarter hour should have taken the lead as Naglieri found an overlapping Phil Arnold, whose shot from 7-metres flashed over the crossbar. The Swan defence was working overtime as Onoforo fired wide and Howarth’s long-range effort was deflected away by Aaron Cole.

A moments hesitation cost Damien Scali a good chance when found unmarked by Brendan Craig on 23 minutes. The full cost of the lost opportunity came inside a minute as Marko Pelosi’s shot struck Robert Monterosso and ricocheted into the far corner of Chris Ramsey’s net. Greg Sharland and Arnold both sent long-range efforts wide as Perth continued their dominance and searched for further goals. Swan were by no means down and on 37 minutes equalised through Scali who netted at close-range after Socratous’ first time shot beat Madaschi but came back off the post. It took Perth less than a minute to respond through a Naglieri corner from the left which was headed in at the near post by Howarth.

Arnold flashed a shot just wide as Perth announced their second half intentions. Swan was unlucky not to level when Cole headed past Madaschi only to have Pelosi clear off the line. Although the game was very much in the balance, Perth were by now turning the screws and Sharland’s goal bound strike was deflected wide by Dom Ando, then at the resulting corner Ramsey kept out an Onoforo header. Their persistence was rewarded on 69 minutes when Howarth gave the ‘keeper no chance by firing in after receiving Arnold’s ball to the back post. There was barely time for Swan to catch their breath when referee Michael Tolme waved away penalty claims after Onoforo fell under a Cole tackle. And a minute later Ramsey had to be quick off his line to save at the feet of Onoforo.

However, it wasn’t completely one-way and John Monterosso volleyed just wide after Craig, who had a brilliant game, won possession from Trent Kay and got deep down the right. Perth upped the tempo as the game entered its closing stages and Cole had to be alert in clearing the danger after Ramsey parried a low attempt by Arnold. Onoforo also had a shot blocked by the Swan custodian, who recovered in time to keep out the striker’s follow-up out of his net. But there was to be no denying Howarth who, with the game in stoppage time, completed his three-goal haul by tucking in a penalty awarded for Cole’s infringement on Arnold.


MANDURAH DEMOLISH COCKBURN (by James Wragg, Football West)

A dominant Mandurah City has cruised past Cockburn City 4-1 with a second half goal blitz at Dalmantiac Park. With the game lock at one-all after 45 minutes, Mandurah changed gear for the second half with Phil O'Callaghan, Ryan Townsend and team captain Andy Brown finding the net to inflict Cockburn's first loss of the new season. Pleased with his teams second half performance, Mandurah boss Stuart Currie tipped his hat to young Cockburn goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic. "If it wasn't for their goalkeeper today it could have been over a lot earlier than it was," he said. "I gave the boys some harsh words at half-time which got them into gear and I thought we deserved our victory today."

Both teams started brightly with Mandurah the first to score on 15 minutes, Michael Currie sending a corner on to the head of Brown who glanced in unchallenged at the near post. However, the lead was short-lived as five minutes later Aaron Dos Santos won possession and unleashed a 25-metre thunderbolt which gave 'keeper Phil Straker no chance. The visiting team could have gone into the break with a comfortable lead if not for some inspired goalkeeping by Aleksic, while a terrific tackle by Jonathon Davite robbed O'Callaghan a clear shot on goal after he had streamed past the defence.

A stern talking to from coach Currie had the desired effect on Mandurah who were ahead inside a minute of the restart, O'Callaghan reacting quickest to a poor defended corner. Michael Currie was proving a handful on the left wing and soon after he picked out O'Callaghan who was denied a second goal by the acrobatics of Aleksic. The margin was increased on 57 minutes when a free-kick lofted into the 18-yard box found an unmarked Townsend, he headed down to O'Callaghan who was forced wide but managed to squeeze the ball back across the face of goal for Townsend to tap into an empty net.

Aleksic was all that prevented the scoreline from blowing out even further, the 'keeper making another fine save to deny O'Callaghan on the hour. But there was nothing he could do in the 74th minutes when Brown tucked in his second of the afternoon after receiving a square pass from O'Callaghan. Jamie D'Abrue came off the bench for Cockburn and immediately tormented the visiting team with his dazzling bag of tricks and lightning pace. But a consolation goal wasn't on the cards for the hosts with referee Jeremy Oliphant signalling full-time amid cheers from the travelling contingent of supporters.



Marc Anthony scored a dramatic late equaliser to snatch Stirling Lions a 2-2 draw with Western Knights under cloudy skies at Macedonia Park. A double from Mario Marcinko looked to have the Knights home when Anthony salvaged a point by adding to Jordan Rhodes early opener. The first shot in anger came via a swift Stirling counterattack in which Jamie Brooks threaded a delightful pass through for Rhodes who rifled just wide. But the home supporters were soon celebrating as Jason Mirco’s swinging cross was flicked on at the near post by Rick Brewer into the path for Rhodes to scramble over the line after 9 minutes. The pressure continued to build on the visitors with Rhodes again finding himself in space but this time his effort was comfortably held by goalkeeper Frazer Siddall.

However, the game was soon turned on its head. David Price’s long ball found Mario Marcinko who out-foxed Michael Pugliese before lobbing over Mark Bentley to bring the teams level. And on the quarter hour a similar move orchestrated by Daniel Micevski put Marcinko up against Igor Ilijk, whose indecision allowed the Knights striker to steel possession and clip his second goal over the advancing ‘keeper. The rest of the half was dominated by a titanic arm wrestle in midfield where Anthony, Brooks, Mirco and Rhodes matched it with David Micevski, Daniel Micevski, Price and Barry Devlin. The only other opening of note came when David Micevski got in behind the defence only for his to his centring cross to be cleared by Dean Evans.

A quick equaliser was what Stirling wanted upon the resumption of play and with 52 minutes gone Rhodes’ speculative shot flashed narrowly wide. Play swung quickly to the opposite end where Bentley was forced into a good save by Price. Stirling stepped up the intensity with Evans surging run taking him deep down the right before delivering an inch-perfect cross for Brooks, whose shot was disappointingly into the safe hands of Siddall. The home fans rose off their chairs in anticipation when Rhodes centred a cross that Brewer glanced wide of the mark with an open goal beckoning. The Knights were in no mood to sit back and a neat one-two between Seb Trim and Marcinko ended with the latter spraying wide.

It looked as though the game was beyond Stirling when Anthony’s rising shot cleared the bar following a free-kick outside the 18-yard box awarded for Marco Warmt-Murray’s foul on Ludovic Boi. But the home team are made of strong stuff and another free-kick struck into the area by Ilijk was headed on by Brewer to Anthony who blasted into the net under pressure from Stuart Ferguson with only three minutes remaining. This sparked a late flurry of activity from both teams as they sought to grab a late winner. It was the Knights that came closest to snaring a deciding goal through substitute Stanford Hepburn, who rifled agonisingly wide in stoppage time.



Inglewood United kick-started their season with Rory Grant’s last gasp goal snatching a 2-1 victory from a plucky ECU Joondalup at Clipsal Stadoum. The game was in stoppage time when Grant headed in the decider and finally put some space between Inglewood and the foot of the Premier League table. The outcome could have been much different had Tommy Ampheltt not screwed his shot wide after robbing team mate Martin Ashworth of possession. Amphlett did amends eleven minutes later, looping a cross to the back post where Ian McMurray nodded over goalkeeper Oliver Taseski to give the visitors a deserved lead. Inglewood took a while to regain their composure and it was only really towards the end of the half that they again began to spark. Alex Cocking was found unmarked but his header lacked the power required to beat Dafyyd Jones, who was stretched soon after by a fine Grant shot from 15-metres. Then right on the stroke of half-time Jamie Mitsopolous’ cross in from the left was powerfully met by Grant, whose header cannoned off the crossbar and Dannie Richman hit the follow-up high and wide.

The half had been under way five minutes when Taseski’s booming clearance was misjudged by the visiting defence, the ball falling invitingly for Cocking who angled a terrific shot across Jones to bring the teams level. Danny Kovacevic kept the teams level on 73 minutes by deflecting wide a close-range shot by Amphlett, who’d been found unmarked by a back post corner. Mladen Kovacevic should have done better than spray high across the face of goal after racing clear down the left. Joondalup were reduced to ten men in the 87th minute when Steve Porter was issued his second yellow card. Baczynski was fortunate to remain on the pitch after clattering into Jones while contesting a high ball, and Scott Bushby’s cynical tackle soon after was lucky not to earn the midfielder an early shower. The resulting free-kick was swung by Pryce to the far post where Grant stooped to head into the net and snatch Inglewood all three points with only seconds left on the clock.



Morley Windmills reasserted their championship credentials with a 6-0 whipping of Rockingham City at Wotton Reserve. The win moves Morley to outright first place on the table as the only team with a perfect win record after three games. Morley attacked from the outset and it was on 16 minutes that their thirst for goals was quenched, Mitch Brydon turning the ball in at close-range from Simon El Chami’s low centre. El Chami was provider again five minutes later, his corner evaded all except for Mark Walsh who stooped to nod back across goalkeeper Craig Olejnik. Half-time was approaching when El Chami’s delicate chip over the oncoming ‘keeper was rammed into the net by David Gordon. The closest Rockingham came all day was a swerving Matthew Leckenby free-kick that clipped the top of the crossbar in first half stoppage time.

Farrell Hedges signalled Morley’s second half intentions by stretching Olejnik with a powerful low drive a minutes after the restart. Olejnik’s failure to hold Hedges glancing header in the 56th minute proved costly as Brydon pounced to net goal number four. Although now seeing more of the ball, Rockingham was limited to long-range attempts as they struggled to break down a home defence under the command of Martin Sherwin and Alan Nanini. A dreadful error by defender Darren Lawler let in El Chami who lobbed over the advancing ‘keeper in the 67th minute. Mitch Castrilli added himself to the scoresheet nine minutes later by driving down the right and firing over Olejnik, who didn’t get enough of a glove on the ball to tip it over the bar. With the job done Morley eased off and allowed their opponent a few late shots on goal, but neither David Clark nor substitute Michael Vaz could benefit.



South West Phoenix moved into second place on the First Division table after grinding out a 3-0 win against Gosnells City on a hot afternoon in Bunbury. The points were secured by a blistering second half spell that started with a David Rodgers goal and culminated in two more from Steve Suttie. An early clash of heads forced Andy Cowley and Adam Bremner out of the game, leading coaches Mickie Cairns and Tony Maguire to reshuffle their decks. Chances on goal were scarce with a deflected shot by Dylan Stevens that went wide being the closest either team came to scoring. The only other incident of note came midway through the half when Scott Devine was dismissed for a sloppy last man challenge on Lee Stewart, leaving Gosnells with ten men.

The game was effectively over within fifteen minutes of the second half as Phoenix piled on three quick goals. The opener came through a Suttie corner that Rodgers fired into the net at close-range. Only a few minutes more had passed when Suttie doubled the lead by finishing off a good move involving Patrick Quinn, David Murphy and Jarrad Mort. Suttie grabbed his second by unleashing a powerful shot from the top of the 18-yard box which goalkeeper Alan Dunlop should have keep out. Phoenix continued to dominate possession but with the job done, and a warm conditions taking their toll there were few further other highlights before the referee brought proceedings to a close.



Balcatta propelled themselves up the First Division standings by smashing Fremantle Spirit 5-1 at Wahuop Park. Quick movement of the ball highlighted Fremantle's purposeful start which had the visiting defence under pressure. However, Balcatta gained the ascendency on 7 minutes when Alan Rosendale combined terrifically with Damien Todorovic, who masterfully beat a couple of opponents before firing into the net. There was more than a hint of controversy in Fremantle's 13th minute equaliser, a blatant foul on Todorovic going unnoticed by match officials before Ravi Kuppusamy raced clear to angle the ball in with the outside of his boot.

This sparked Balcatta to exert increasing pressure on their hosts with the end result being a couple of quick goals from Peter Huckett and Bobby Klenkoski. The game was effectively ended as a contest shortly before the interval when Rosendale bagged another to leave Fremantle trailing four-one. Todorovic continued to wreak havoc after the turnaround and on 55 minutes iced the cake by unleashing an unstoppable shot inside the left upright. Substitute Tom Gaca thought he'd added Baclatta's sixth with only a few minutes remaining but after out-pacing the defence he guided the ball under the advancing goalkeeper only to have the post come to Fremantle's aid.



Dianella White Eagles overcame going a man down and a goal behind to defeat Ashfield 2-1 at Dianella Reserve. Early highlights were scare in a fairly tame opening spell with the first attempt on goal being a Gareth Healy shot that Matthew Battigelli palmed away. Dragan Njegic out-foxed his marker in the 28th minute to square for strike partner Wes Ryder whose powerful shot was held by Matt Darling. Two minutes the hosts went down a man with Goran Radinovic red carded for his elbow to the face of Martin Kelly, who was also forced out of the game. Ashfield capitalised in the 40th minute when Jason Van Rooy headed in from 5-metres after Battigelli failured to punch clear a cross. But the sides were soon level with Rodrigo Aguirre converting a penalty awarded for Darling's foul on Ryder.

Dianella continued to rally after the break and if not for Darling the visitors could have been a couple of goals down. Ryder was denied twice in quick succession by the 'keeper, who also pushed away Pavle Kuvekalovic's 70th minute strike. Namapobi Salvatore fired wide twice in the space of a few minutes as Ashfield attempted to regain the lead. A powerfully struck effort by Ryder was into the arms of Darling, and with only minutes later Aguirre was thwarted by Darling following a fine lead-up that featured substitutes Kris Spaseski and Stefan Smiljanic. The game looked destined to end level when Spaseski and Aguirre exchanged passes to set-up Stefan Drca, and while his initial attempt was blocked there was no mistake as he blasted in the rebound.



An 8-1 mauling of Queens Park has given Bayswater City their first points of the First Division season. Bayswater were on the scoreboard after just 9 minutes, Tommy Jones nodding in from 7-metres after a long throw-in skimmed the head of a defender. Anthony McStea went close with a free-kick and Paul Hickey rained shots down on goalkeeper Brad Parfitt as Bayswater went looking for goal number two. It arrived five minutes out from the interval when Tommy Jones' long-range free-kick struck a defender, wrong-footing Parfitt who could only watch as the ball ricocheted into his net.

The second half had been under way only a few minutes when Steve Worthy's cross was headed in by Ryan Jeans at 5-metres. The floodgates were flung open by Frank Madaferri's lung-bursting run that took him past several challenges before chipping the advancing 'keeper from 18-metres. Soon after Anthony Jones slipped the ball to Ryan Jeans whose parried shot was opportunistically blasted into the net by Tommy Jones. Worthy was provider again in the 81st minute with a deep cross which allowed Jeans to turn his marker before applying a neat finish.

In the 85th minute Hickey combined with substitute Ahmed Hafez whose back post cross was headed in by Anthony Jones from 9-metres. There was a brief respite when Queens Park pegged a goal back on the counter attack, Mauro Capitani angling his shot past 'keeper Bobson Koroma and in off the post. But Bayswater would have the final say and in stoppage time great lead-up play between Hickey and Tommy Jones put McStea in space, his clever back-heel to Ryan Frisina was returned for the midfielder to fire into the top corner.



The highlight of Round Three takes place at Dalmatinac Park where Cockburn City locks horns with Mandurah City. Mirko Jelicic’s side have been playing a quick tempo game in which Aaron Dos Santos and Johnny Mirco are banging in the goals as young goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic stars down the other end. “It’s pleasing to have kept two clean sheets so far this season, especially after changing personal in the back line,” said the Cockburn coach. Mandurah boss Stuart Currie is no doubt hoping for a repeat of last seasons trip to Cockburn that produced a five-nil score line in the Dolphins favour.

It’s the ‘Spring in the Valley Cup’ time Swan United taking on Perth SC at the Swan Italian Club. The hosts have made a poor start to 2009, and even with captain Aaron Cole back from suspension they’re going to have to be in tip-top form to get so much as a single point from the afternoon. Everything has been going according to plan for Graham Normanton with Perth winning their past nine outings thanks to an ever-creative midfield that includes Gold Medal winner Antonio Naglieri.

Western Knights venture to Macedonia Park where Stirling Lions have home ground advantage. A stunning first half display saw Paul Price’s team blow away Inglewood United last week and with Daniel Micevski in fine touch it’s going to take something special to stop the visitors. Stirling took a point from last weeks Jekyll and Hyde performance at Sorrento and with Steven Hesketh and goalkeeper Dino Pacella both suspended it’s difficult to see them getting from this game.

Inglewood United has looked far from championship material during the opening fortnight of competition and next face ECU Joondalup at Clipsal Stadium. The return from injury of James Duncan and Jamie Mitsopolous has been somewhat offset for Inglewood by suspension to State midfielder Jason Coli and veteran Kevin Griffiths. Joondalup will be without Garin Collins but welcome back to the line-up Scott Bushby while youngster Ryan Williams is expected to play despite limping out of last week’s game at Perth.

An injury-ravaged Sorrento makes the trip to Litis Stadium on Saturday evening (6.00pm) to play Floreat Athena. But even through the visitors will be without eight regulars, including Stuart Montgomery, Brodie Martin and Shaun Kilkelly, Floreat boss Michael Roki is taking nothing for granted. “Depleted or not, Sorrento have the nucleus of a champion team and will be tough,” said Roki. “The past three seasons has seen two premierships go to the Gulls, and yet we have only lost once to them in the six league encounters over that time.” The game will be broadcast live on 107.3 Heritage FM.

The round comes to a close on Sunday when Canning City welcomes Armadale to the Willetton Sports Club. Canning collected a historic first ever Premier League win last time out and are pulling out all the stops to back it up with another three points. But they’ll need to do it without star duo Paul Oliver and Daniel Trevisiol, who are injured and suspended respectively. Late fitness tests will determine whether Jason Goodwin, Nao Oishi and Gary Faria play any part for Armadale, who parted company with striker John Thornley in mid-week.



The top of the table showdown between Morley Windmills and Rockingham City takes centre stage tomorrow. First Division Night Series winners Rockingham go into the game as favourites, having hit the net eight times in their opening couple of games, however, the fact Morley have not yet conceded a goal augers well for the hosts. “You’re always confident going into a game but, ultimately, it’s all down to the players on the day,” said Morley coach Tom Kilkelly, who was unimpressed by last week’s two-goal win at Queens Park. “A number of our players will have to lift their levels if we’re going to trouble Rockingham on Saturday.”

The injury list has been growing by the week at Bayswater City where coach Michael Di Fulvio could be without as many as eleven players - including captain Jason Lawton, experienced defender Tony Cumace and star striker Ryan Jeans - for the home game with Queens Park. “We’ve had a horror run but all teams will go through this at some stage,” said Di Fulvio. “Three points are crucial for us this week - we need to get our season started and hopefully we’ll then start getting some players back to full fitness.”

Fremantle Spirit will attempt to make it three from three when Balcatta venture to Wauhop Park. Five goals in eight days has Lee Stewart as the player to watch when South West Phoenix host Gosnells City. Wanneroo City and Forrestfield United are each looking to assert themselves as more than just a mid-table proposition when they meet at Kingsway Sporting Complex. Ashfield took a battering last week but are hopeful of capitalising on a leaky Dianella White Eagles defence on their visit to Dianella Reserve.



Josip Magdic is back on the training track with plans to reignite his career at Floreat Athena. The goal scoring midfielder would be a Perth Glory player had a foot injury not robbed him of the opportunity during the recently completed A-League season. Magdic returns to the club at which he played senior football as a 16-year old, and where he played a pivotal role in Floreat's capture of the Premier League championship in 2007.

Coach Michael Roki is relishing the chance of unleashing a fully-fit Magdic on Floreat's top flight rivals. "If Josip performs to his full potential then he'll be an invaluable member of our squad," said the coach. "But first priority is to ensure he is totally injury-free after some recurring knee inflammation recently. The nagging injury seems to be settling and it shouldn't be long before he's taunting defenders again in the Premier League."

Magdic made only four appearances during two seasons at Glory but is determined to add to his tally. "A lack of opportunities under Ron Smith and then injury requiring surgery has kept Josip unfortunately sidelined for a lengthy period but he's keen to make a few points and hopefully get another crack at a higher level. But for the time being it's all about playing some solid football at Floreat and seeing where that can take him," added Roki.



Some good early season performances have done ECU Joondalup the world of good according to team captain Ian McMurray. With overall confidence up, competition for places intensifying by the week and the team playing attractive attacking football, Joondalup are very much on the right track at make amends for a flat second half to 2008. "It's very early and we know we will have to be much more consistent than last year," said McMurray. "We are quietly confident but know that there is a lot more hard work to be done in training in order for us to succeed."

Joondalup put their pre-season upheavals behind them by defeating Cockburn City in the Cup then Western Knights seven days later in the League. "We have made a reasonable start to the season," McMurray said. "Many people have been talking of us struggling this year and even of relegation, which I suppose after everything which has gone on with the manager change and releasing of players could have seemed on the cards from an outsider. But being at the club and knowing the quality within the club tells another story."

Last week they recovered from being two-down to go into the break level with Perth SC, only to then loose their way in the second half. "Perth is the benchmark, everybody knows they are a very strong side with loads of ability throughout the team, and they are probably favourites for the league," said McMurray. "We were delighted with our first half, although we went 2-0 down we were playing well and once we scored the confidence grew and we probably could have been ahead at half-time. In the second half we never got started and Perth ran over the top of us, which was disappointing."

McMurray backs the club's pre-season decision to hand the coaching reins to Syd Amphlett, who has breathed new new life in the team. "Syd has been great. His enthusiasm and passion for the game and his love for ECU is second to none, and add to that his professionalism and desire to win every match is great and rubs off throughout the team," said 32-year old McMurray. "He came in and changed a lot of things, which was very brave of him, but everything he has done and continues to do is to better ECU."

Joondalup's future looks to be in good hands following the arrival of several teenagers fresh from the Perth Glory Youth and National Training Centre set-ups. "The youngsters added to the club by Syd are a great addition to our squad, Josh Risdon, Lewis Hall and Ryan Williams are just a few," said McMurray. "These guys bring a freshness to the training and they are always prepared to listen to what is being asked of them and work so hard in training to better their own game. They have been exceptional in the matches so far, and will only get better with experience ... I know without doubt that they all have a big future in the game."

The next assignment for Joondalup is a trip on Saturday to Inglewood United, who are still searching for their first point of the campaign following back-to-back loss to Sorrento and Western Knights. "They were beaten 4-0 (by the Knights last week) and will want to bounce back, so we will have to be at our best to get a result," McMurray commented. "But saying that, both teams will be looking to bounce back from the previous defeats and I'm sure it will be a cracking game. Inglewood are a good team who finished fourth last year and Syd will have us organised and ready to go all out for the win."



Few would argue that Perth SC will be one of the big players in season 2009, and Graham Normanton is pulling out all the stops to make sure he has the depth to go the distance. Phil Arnold, Dom De Felice, Marco Pelosi and Craig Simpson have made their mark since relocating to Dorrien Gardens while the impending return of club captain Robbie Puca along with the arrival of Gary Greenhill and Andrew Bourakis has given the coach a plethora of midfield options. "The last two seasons have been horrendous from an injury perspective so it was important that we had some strength in depth if we are to mount a serious challenge for honours," explained the Perth coach.

2008 Gold Medal winner Antonio Naglieri, club legend Todd Howarth, exciting teenager Michael Black and De Felice have been utilised in the centre during Perth's opening two games of the season as Matt Danskin, Greg Sharland and Pelosi provide width. And with Puca, Greenhill and Bourakis also knocking on the selection door the coach, Normanton says it's up to each played to fight for his place. "I have always played players on their merits and nothing will change this year," he said. "They have to work at their game and produce the necessary performance that will get them in the team, and once they've earned a spot they then have to keep it."

Normanton will be taking no risks with Puca as he slowly makes his way back to full fitness after a lengthy injury lay-off. "Robbie has played three Reserves games and has come through without any repercussions," said Normanton. "I want to be sure that when he pulls the boots on for the first team he's going to be a long term proposition, we've done everything in our power to allow him to play for the next five or six seasons. When he's fit and playing well there wouldn't be any better player in the league than Robert. I for one can't wait to see him back in full flight!"

Former Berwick Rangers and Dunfermline Athletic midfielder Greenhill, 23, moved to Perth at the same time as Pelosi. "Gary and Marco were brought here through an agent in Scotland, both had played for their country as under-23's and were looking for a fresh outlook on life," said Normanton. "Gary is a very good passer of the ball, is confident and comfortable in possession and also has a good work ethic. I know he'll be good for us and I also know that our set-up will be good for him. He adds stability and quality to our midfield where not every player can be the creative one."

Bourakis was signed from Victorian club South Melbourne where he played along side Andreas Oliviera, Antonio Naglieri and Dino Djulbic in 2006. "Andrew was sourced through a contact in Melbourne, it's a global game these days and Perth SC has a lot to offer players both in football and life in general," commented Normanton. "I met with Andrew in January, liked what I heard so offered him terms. He has a great engine, bags of energy and a good range in his passing game ... he'll certainly be another quality addition to the team."

Normanton, now in his eleventh season at Dorrien Gardens, has won a lot of trophies in his time and considers the current squad to be one of the best. "It is always very difficult to compare different squads of players from different seasons, however, this squad compares very favourably with those that won the League in 2002, 2003 and 2005," he said. "The key thing this season is I have players who are very versatile and can perform at a high level in a number of positions, so the tactical structure of the team can be adjusted according to the players available or how we want to line up against any opponent."



Tickets to the fundraising auction in honour of Reg Davies are selling like hotcakes. Amongst the items going under the hammer at Dorrien Gardens on 22nd May are shirts signed by legends of the English game Bobby Charlton and Tom Finney along with current Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson. With all proceeds going to Davies widow, contact event organiser John Sydenham (9300 5370 or 0438 005 370) for further information.

ECU Joondalup will again be without attack-focused Garin Collins for this weekend’s trip to Inglewood United. Collins, who returned the Joondalup on the eve of the home and away series after playing the pre-season at Sorrento, made an emergency flight to Scotland last week upon news his grandmother was seriously ill. The State representative was absent when Joondalup went down to Perth SC on Saturday.

Injured midfielder Adam Galvin has been installed as the new Reserve team coach at Dianella White Eagles. Signed during the summer from Armadale, Galvin replaces former Socceroo Jimmy Pearson following his decision to accept the first team assistant role at Queens Park. Galvin, holder of a UEFA B coaching licence, has his season ended prematurely by a knee injury which required surgery.

Andreas Oliviera is hopeful of making a June return to State League football. The livewire Perth SC striker is well on the way to making a full recovery from a knee ligament injury suffered in last July’s home game with Swan United. Chile-raised Oliviera is widely regarded one of the local scene’s most lethal finishers, scoring close to 150 League and Cup goals since debuting for Perth in 2001.

Floreat Athena’s defensive stocks will be bolstered next month by Jovo Pavlovic’s return from Europe. The 19-year old has picked up some valuable experience training in Serbia and his no-nonsense approach will increase competition for spots in Michael Roki’s match day line-up. Pavlovic, who has make no secret of his desire to play football professionally, is understood to have attracted the interest of a German second tier club.



Striker Tom Jones has put a difficult few weeks behind him by joining Bayswater City’s quest for the First Division championship. Released by ECU Joondalup last month, 22-year old Jones is happy to be playing football again at a club that wants him. “The move to Bayswater is good for me personally, I want to play and enjoy my football,” commented Jones, whose older brother Anthony has also joined the club. “The set up is a lot better than most Premier League teams and this club wants to be playing at that level. We’re many people’s favourites to win the league and with the team we have we should be able to do that.”

Soon after being released by Joondalup last month Jones had received offers from two Premier League clubs, both which he turned down to play at Frank Drago Reserve. “I don’t want to mention the clubs but both were keen to sign me. But after the disappointment of what happened at Joondalup I want to enjoy my football and I think both clubs will struggle this season,” he explained. “I believe Bayswater are a Premier League club and if I can help them achieve this it will be great.”

Michael Di Fulvio has assembled a squad brimming with top-flight experience at Bayswater and could not be happier that Jones will be one of his players this winter. “He adds a great deal to our attacking options and we’re happy to have him on board,” Di Fulvio said. “He will give our squad some Premier League experience as we push through the season.” By any hopes Jones may have had of walking into Bayswater’s first eleven would have been extinguished on his first night of training when it was revealed he’d be competing with Ryan Jeans, Damien Catalano, Ryan Frisina and Ian Griffiths for a place on the front line.

Jones admits to be disillusioned with football after the treatment he received at Joondalup, the club he played for as a junior. “I was very disappointed with the way I was treated, but that’s football,” he said. “I was honest with the new coach about certain things and he disagreed with me, and before talking with him I was told I was in his plans and starting in a friendly against Morley. So to then get a call to say I was no longer in his plans and to not to come back the club was disappointing, but I’ve moved on and I’m looking forward to my time at Bayswater.”



Socceroos defender Chris Coyne says he is desperately sad to see his former club Luton Town drop out of the English Football League after 89 years. Luton, who started their League Two campaign with minus 30 points after being penalised for financial infringements, were relegated to the Conference on Monday following a scoreless draw at Chesterfield Town. Coyne played over 250 games for the Hatters in a seven-year spell before moving to Colchester last year. “It is really sad to see,” Coyne said. “When I first went there the club was heading in the right direction and everyone was pulling in the right way but unfortunately due to things in the boardroom and dodgy dealings with agents it has damaged the club.

Coyne captained Luton to promotion to the Championship in 2004/05, where they finished just outside the playoffs. However, the sale of the club’s best players saw the team struggle and triggered their dramatic slide down the divisions. “They are a really, really good club, they have great support and it is hard to believe they will be playing Conference football next year, considering we were playing and almost beating Liverpool in the FA Cup less than three years ago,” he said. “It’s not good to see such a good football club go downhill but I think the worst is behind them now and they can rebuild and get back into the league.”



Danish youth international Jonas Piechnik could make his State league debut for Floreat Athena in the not too distant future. Floreat Athena coach Michael Roki has his fingers crossed Piechnik’s international clearance comes through sooner rather than later from Danish Superliga club FC Midtjylland. “We originally had Simon Madaschi recruited for the season but his return to Perth SC has thrown a spanner in the works,” explained Roki. “Alex Dunn is on leave overseas and Vas Vujacic has a way to go to regaining full fitness so we needed to cover the gap.”

Roki has been impressed of what he has so far seen of 22-year old Piechnik, who was capped 19 times at Under-19 level by Denmark. “Jonas has looked solid in training but the true test obviously will come when he can actually take the field for us,” said the coach. “He’s played over 150 games in the Danish second division and certainly commands the box. Only time will tell but we’re confident he will make an impression after his international clearance is processed. A semi-fit Vas has been playing of late but we’ll start seeing some serious competition as to who wears the gloves very soon I’m sure.”



Eli Babalj, Scott Mellish and Trent Sainsbury travel to Europe this week to represent Australia in a two-game youth friendly series with Turkey. Jan Versleijen has selected a 25-player Under-17 squad for the inaugural Australia-Turkey Friendly Football matches being played in Gallipoli either side of ANZAC Day. The entirely Australian Institute of Sport based squad will warm-up for the series with games against the AC Milan and Inter Milan youth teams.

The Australian Under-17 squad for the two-game series with Turkey later this month is Mustafa Amini, Eli Babalj, Kerem Bulut, Christophe Bush, Kevin Davison, Patrick Dixon, Stephen Domenici, Samuel Gallaway, Jason Geria, Curtis Good, Brendan Hamill, Ersin Kaya, Damir Lokvancic, Robert Kolak, Aaron Lennox, Jared Lum, John Martinoski, Alexander Meibusch, Scott Mellish, Aaron Peterson, Daniel Petkovski, Trent Sainsbury, Nikola Stanojevic, Lawrence Thomas and Marc Warren.



The second round draw of the 2009 Soccer Pools Cup has produced some mouth-watering games. The choice pick of the three all-Premier League ties is Sorrento’s home meeting with distant neighbours Stirling Lions. Just down the road ECU Joondalup will take on Perth SC, and Armadale welcome Canning City to Alfred Skeet Oval. The meeting of South West Phoenix and Fremantle Spirit in Bunbury promises to be one of the round highlights. Shamrock Rovers coach Glynn Shaw comes up against his former club Morley Windmills, while Balcatta have a very difficult home assignment against Cup holder Western Knights. Amateur club Spearwood Dalmatinac will be hoping to upset Floreat Athena, Inglewood United are home to Gosnells City. All games will be played across the weekend of 30th/31st May.



Locally based teenagers Jessie Makarounas and Sahr Musa announced themselves on the international stage by finding the net for the Australian Under-15 side in today's 2-2 draw with Japan. The result enabled Australia to win the two-game series following a 3-2 victory on Friday. A third West Australian, Alex Grant, also featured against Japan while Riley Woodcock and Byron Hudson were part of the squad but did not see match time.

Jason Da Silva's powerful low strike after 2 minutes gave the Joeys a dream start to the opening game of the series. An error by goalkeeper Lachlan Tibbles put Japan back on level terms soon after with Fumiya Hayakawa finding the net. The Joeys retook the lead on the half hour through Anthony Proia, and seven minutes later Yumemi Kanda beat Tibbles to again even the score. The only goal of an entertaining second half came on 62 minutes when Da Silva slid the ball in from a near post Sam Chapple cross.

The first half of Sunday's game saw both teams continue on with the challenge they'd begun two days earlier, but it wasn't until the 49th minute that Japan's Fumiya Hayakawa broke the deadlock. The equaliser came in the 66th minute, Jessie Makarounas cutting inside a defender to slam into the net via the underside of the crossbar. Makarounas' header allowed Sahr Musa to beat the 'keeper in a one-on-one, putting Australia in the lead with 75 minutes played. But four minutes later Japan equalised that an unmarked Syunsuke Hirasawa.



Cockburn City maintained their flying start to the season with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval. Aaron Dos Santos gave the visitors the ideal start with Johnny Mirco’s second-half brace making it two out of two for Mirko Jelcic’s side. “I think a lot of teams will find it hard to get points here - Armadale are a good honest team,” said the Cockburn coach. “We just had a more consistent performance here today than we have had in the last couple of weeks. Not quite 90 minutes but closer to it. I thought we controlled it well for the first 20-25 (minutes), they probably had the better of the second 20, then they didn’t present a lot in the second half.”

Michael Mirco had the afternoon’s first chance but after being set up by Johnny Mirco the veteran blazed high from the edge of the 18-yard box. But the Cockerels didn’t have long to wait, a neat interchange of passes ended with Dos Santos coolly driving the ball low past goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock and inside the far post. Dos Santos might have had his second moments later but Sharrock did well to save his first-time effort. The home side suffered a further setback when striker Nao Oishi hobbled off injured on 20 minutes to be replaced by James Hesketh. However, Armadale slowly got back into the contest and Gary Bunting twice forced good saves from Dejan Aleskic.

Cockburn could have been a few goals the better had Johnny Mirco and Anthony Periera not wasted good chances. Johnny Mirco was a constant threat and on 73 minutes found enough space inside the area to double the margin with a low drive that was just past Sharrock’s gloves. At the other end, Marlon Ramirez couldn’t keep his snap shot down after Ryan Pearson had headed Bunting’s free-kick back across goal. The result was put beyond doubt with seven minutes remaining when Dos Santos and Cameron Edwards combined brilliantly for Johnny Mirco to power an angled shot in from 10-metres. Michael Mirco could have added a stunning fourth but his bullet-like drive crashed into the junction of post and crossbar.



A dominant second half performance has seen Perth SC run out 4-2 victors from their game with ECU Joondalup at Dorrien Gardens. The crowd was still settling into their seats when Davvyd Jones thwarted Phil Arnold on a one-on-one, play immediately swinging to the other end where Ryan Williams was denied by the late intervention of Gianfranco Circati. The first goal came after 8 minutes, Antonio Naglieri threading a tidy pass to David Onoforo who delicately lobbed over the advancing goalkeeper. Naglieri was starting to assert his authority in midfield and soon after flashed a shot over the crossbar. The hosts added a deserved second in the 24th minute via Naglieri who, spotting Jones off his line, delightfully chipped into the net courtesy of good work in the lead-up by Arnold.

It looked as though Perth were going to run away with the game when Todd Howarth speared a shot just wide of the far post after leaving Scott Blackmore chasing shadows. However, Joondalup were not working to that script and on 28 minutes Tommy Amphlett intercepted a poor defensive pass which strode forward to slip past ‘keeper Simon Madaschi. The sides were level two minutes later when Steve Porter’s lovely pass in behind the home defence allowed Amphlett to again stroke into the net. A vicious Matt Danskin shot was deflected wide by Jones as Perth sought to quickly reclaim the lead, while four minutes from half-time Amphlett struck the base of the post with a tremendous strike from 16-metres.

Joondalup picked up after the break where they’d left off but Amphlett’s powerful angled drive was a little too close to Madaschi. The pace of Amphlett and second half substitute Simon Woodward pace was causing a few a few problems for the opposing defence as the visitors went looking for the lead. However, it wasn’t long before Perth started to flicker back to life and in quick succession Naglieri drove wide and Onoforo slammed high. A scorching half-volley by Craig Simpson forced a fine reflex save from Jones just after the hour. Joondalup had played all afternoon with a very square defence and if not for this strategy both Onoforo and Arnold would have been through with only the ‘keeper to beat.

As the game entered the closing stage the pace dropped off but Perth’s dominance continued. Trent Kay was unfortunate not to add his name to the scoresheet with a crass-cutter that cannoned back off the base of the post, with Jones instinctively pushing wide Arnold’s explosive follow-up. Perth got the goal they craved on 75 minutes when Danskin drove down the right and although his shot was blocked by Charlie Comyn-Platt there was no way to stop Arnold from arrowing the ball across the ‘keeper and inside the far corner. A moment of pure brilliance put the icing on Perth’s cake, Onoforo flicking the ball over the head of his marker who he then rounded to drill into the net from an acute angle at 7-metres.



Floreat Athena scored twice in the final few minutes to see off Mandurah City 2-0 under lights at Hyundai Stadium. Dean Apelgren and James Sammut both came off the bench to earn the visitors all three points and maintain their perfect start to the season. “We travelled to Mandurah knowing that the record needed to be set straight after we got it all wrong last year,” said coach Michael Roki, referencing Floreat’s opening day loss twelve months ago. “Both sides had a few guilt-edged chances in the first half but with us the more wasteful, hitting a number of shots wide or high when we should have made the ‘keeper work. The second half opened up a little and either side could have jagged it. Fortunately, we got the breakthrough from a defensive error that Dean made the most of, then James ran onto a long ball to tuck away a clincher in the last minute.”

Neat interplay down the left created the games first opportunity for Branimir Mikulic, whose close-range effort went past Phil Straker but was cleared off the line by Chris Wylie. Mikulic then turned provided by flicking the ball on for an unmarked Daniel Neiderberger to fired disappointingly high. By far the better football came from Floreat and a delightful Mikulic pass sent Brad Scott through with only the ‘keeper to beat but the strikers shot was turned wide by Straker. Mandurah’s first chance arrived courtesy of a deep Steve Payne cross that captain Andy Brown failed to connect with. The hosts were let off the hook sides after poor defending allowed Scott to blast in from 5-metres only for this effort to be ruled offside. Brown pushed forward down the left just before the break, playing a good one-two with Phil O’Callaghan but as he entered the 18-yard box Ante Kovacevic came across to cut out the cross.

The first serious attack of the second half came from the home team, Wylie playing down the left where Brown went past his marker and laid the ball off to Craig Young but his shot from 16-metres was comfortably held by Vas Vujacic. Floreat were becoming frustrated by their inability to penetrate the opposing defence, forcing Daniel Neiderberger to shoot from distance. An intelligent header back across the box by O’Callaghan was just out of Jason Godfrey’s reach as Mandurah continued their hunt for the all-important first goal. The tension was finally broken in the 87th minute, Jason Barerra playing a partially cleared corner back into the area where an unmarked Apelgren had the time to pick his spot with a neat header. To compound Mandurah’s woes, defender Chris Currie touched an innocuous long ball down to Sammut who confidently stroked under the advancing ‘keeper to seal an away victory.



Honours were even at Percy Doyle Reserve where Sorrento and Stirling Lions shared six goals and a trio of red cards. Reece Vittiglia’s double and another from captain Todd Harnwell had Sorrento seemingly in control before second half goals from Jason Mirco, Dean Evans and Ludovic Boi snatched a dramatic 3-3 draw. Gulls coach Steve Neville said the contest should have been over at the break and lamented his side’s sluggish start to the second half. “They’ve come out in the second half, we’ve given them the initiative and never really got going, kept giving away,” he said. “You know they are going to come out, they are 3-0 down and you know the coach will get into them at half-time and get a reaction out of them.”

The game opened at breakneck pace with Boi finding himself in space only to fire into the side-netting inside a minute. There was no such wastefulness from Harnwell, who capitalised on poor defending following a corner to fire the Gulls into a 4th minute lead. Glen Thomas could have added their second when found in space on the edge of the 18-yard box and while the midfielder’s lob cleared goalkeeper Dino Pacella it was also high of the crossbar. Steve McDonald threatened by heading a free-kick just over, then Thomas again failed to find the net as the home side struggled to make their dominance count.

Although chances were scare for Stirling, Rory Feely did find himself through only for Neil Young to come quickly off his line to keep the hosts ahead. It was only as the half came to a close that Sorrento began converting chances into goals, Vittiglia rounding Dino Pacella in the 37 minute to make it two-nil after being played in by Harnwell. And just four minutes out from half-time the same two players again combine with Vittiglia this time afforded far too much time to angle in from the left and calmly tuck wide of the ‘keeper.

The introduction of Jordan Rhodes and a half-time spray from Mike Lyons had the desired effect on Stirling. A free-kick by Steven Hesketh just evaded the top corner, penalty appeals for a foul on Hesketh were dismissed, then Young was forced into a smart save by Boi. Their persistence was rewarded on 55 minutes when Rick Brewer delivered a cross which Jason Mirco headed in from 5-metres. The gap was reduced even further only two minutes later courtesy of Dean Evans’ jinxing run that took him past a couple of opponents before placing the ball beyond a diving ‘keeper.

Pacella was issued his marching orders with fifteen minutes to go for protesting a little too long and loudly with the referee after Harnwell had robbed him of possession. Thomas’ corner provided a chance to seal an away win by Danny Hill whose looping header was desperately cleared from on the line by Evans. The sides were brought level with seven minutes remaining, Boi slammed the ball into the net after Evans penalty kick was superbly saved by Young. Three minutes later Hesketh was dismissed for his second bookable offence, a foul on Shaun Kilkelly who was also red carded for complaining about the challenge.



The sun was shining when Western Knights opened their account for season 2009 with a 4-0 thrashing of Inglewood United at Nash Field. Daniel Micevski scored twice with one apiece from Mario Marcinko and Barry Devlin completing a memorable afternoon for the home team. Marcinko got the show on the road after 5 minutes when he was in the right place at the right time to poke the ball over the line, giving the hosts a dream start. On 19 minutes Daniel Micevski extended the Knights lead with a clinical finish after being set-up by Marcinko. Inglewood’s day took a turn for the worse on 38 minutes when referee David Costello showed Jason Colli a straight card for his last man challenge on Daniel Micevski, who stepping up to slot in the resulting penalty. The game was ended as a contest soon after when David Micevski linked up with Devlin whose bullet-like shot was into the bottom corner.

The second half was more of a training session for the Knights with Daniel Micevski, David Micevski and Devlin asserting control as the hosts retained possession for lengthy periods. A fine move created an opening for David Micevski whose thunderbolt was punched away from goal by Oliver Taseski. Anthony Campbell looked certain to add a fifth for the Knights but also didn’t factor in Taseski, whose cat-like reflexes kept out his close-range effort. Playing a man down and with Rory Grant as the sole target in the final third, Inglewood struggled to create anything of great substance throughout the second period. The visitors would see out the game with only nine men on the park following the 82nd minute dismissal of Kevin Griffiths for a second bookable offence.



Canning City have registered their first ever Premier League win by downing Swan United 2-1 in a tightly-contest encounter at the Swan Italian Club. Simon Versaico’s second goal in as many weeks was complimented by Roberto Lujan’s second half strike that ultimately saw off the challenge of a strong-finishing Swan outfit. “The boy’s did very well today. It was a tough hard fought game, but we are delighted for our first ever Premier League win,” said team manager Gordon Mathers. “We dominated the first 25 minutes but we lost our way and allowed them the equaliser just before half time. The second half was a battle, but we always thought we could nick one and we did … We believed we could come here and win, and the result is very pleasing for us.”

A big crowd was on hand to see Canning take a 3rd minute lead, a superb through ball by Paul Oliver was expertly controlled by Versaico who outpaced the defence before hammering an unstoppable shot past goalkeeper Chris Ramsey from 6-metres. The margin could have been widened two minutes later when Rory Mouttet sent Daniel Trevisiol clear only to have Robert Monterosso block his shot. The home team were slow to find their rhythm and Stephen Guest created their first chance with a far post cross that evaded an unmarked Thomas Shepheard by the narrowest of margins. Even so, Canning continued to play the better football and good lead-up work by Roberto Lujan put the ball with Charles Partridge, who fired disappointingly wide at close-range.

Swan’s failure to clear their lines on the half hour led to Michael Roger flashing the ball just high of the crossbar. It was only shortly before half time that the hosts awoke from their slumbers and started to out some serious pressure the opposing defence. A 40th minute cross by Guest struck the arm of Mouttet with referee Dave Scragg hesitating not a moment before pointing to the spot from where Damien Scali sent Devon Spence the wrong way to bring the teams level. This spurred Swan on and a through ball by Scali released Matthew Xerri whose angled strike whistled past the far post. Costa Socratous’ picked out an unmarked Xerri who blazed well wide. Xerri turned provider in stoppage time, cutting in from the left to set up Shepheard, whose shot was blocked by Duncan Hind.

A dull start to the second half saw nothing in the way of attractive, flowing football or opportunities created on goal by either side. Canning thought they’d re-taken the lead through Trevisiol fired, however, his effort was ruled out for offside. The travelling supporters were given reason to celebrate in earnest thirteen minutes later, Duaane Hepburn’s effort was halted on the line and Lujan followed up with a header that hit one post then the other before being deemed to have cross the line as Ramsey frantically scrambled to take possession. With fifteen minutes to go Canning suffered a significant blow with influential midfielder Paul Oliver forced from the field with a broken collar bone.

The game boiled over in the 83 minute when Spence captured a Scali back post header and amid legitimate claims that the ball crossed the line referee Scragg waved play to continue. It was when the ball next went out play that things got completely out of hand, a home team spectator struck entering the field of play to spark an ugly melee that is sure to be closely scrutinised by the local authorities. Trevisiol’s second bookable offence earned him an early shower and left Canning to see out the final minutes a man down. Shane Webb and David Paone each shot wide as Swan sought to capitalise and with last roll of the dice - after 97 minutes - Scali headed just past the post before the referee brought an end to proceedings.



Fremantle Spirit maintained their wining start to the new First Division season by downing Dianella White Eagles 3-1 on a warm afternoon at Dianella Reserve. The large home crowd rose as one on the half hour when Wes Ryder's powerful strike from 16-metres found the net following good work in the lead-up by Stefan Smiljanic. Fremantle equalised soon after through a good interchange of passes which was finished off by Ravi Kuppisimy. Referee Stephen Knight issued several yellow cards in response to a spate of sloppy tackles, and with 31 minutes gone Lee Hallam's reckless challenge on Ryder earned him a second booking and an early shower.

Down to ten men, Fremantle shifted up a gear for the second half but could open up few holes in a home defence under the command of former national league player Peter Vukmirovic. The port side finally broke through on 64 minutes, Alex Caniglia's clever lob releasing Jason Pottier who neatly flicked the ball over the advancing goalkeeper. Smiljanic was unable to restore parity when the opportunity presented with ten minutes remaining. It would be a costly miss as soon after Fremantle broke on the counter attack through Kuppisimy who cut in after driving down the right to drill an explosive shot into the top corner of Matt Battigelli's net.



Jordan Hart marked his return from injury with a late double to help Forrestfield United to a 3-0 victory over Bayswater City at Hartfield Park. The win opened Forrestfield's account for the season with coach John Hunter crediting the victory to his side's much-improved work rate. "I was much happier with today's performance. The last few weeks we haven't been playing too well but today we went out there and worked hard and eventually the goals came," he said.

The closest either side came to scoring in an even first half was when Martin Barnes floated a long free-kick over goalkeeper Bobson Koroma, who managed to recover with a spectacular flying save. Bayswater began to stamp their authority on the game after the break, Damien Catalano having an effort cleared off the line before Ian Griffiths was unlucky to see his header hit the crossbar. Two minutes later Catalano's curling strike was wonderfully saved by Brad Eiffe as it started to look like a matter of when, not if, Bayswater would score.

However, the goal didn't come and Bayswater's poor finishing would come back to haunt them. In the 73rd minute substitute Kailo Karpeh stole in at the back post to power a header past Karoma and put Forrestfield one-up. As Bayswater pushed for an equaliser holes began to appear in their defence and in the 83rd minute Jason Feather latched onto a booming goal kick and got to the right touchline before crossing for Hart to tap in. Four minutes later Hart put the points beyond doubt with a delicate half volley which flew into the top corner of Karoma's net.


PHOENIX NOTCH IMPRESSIVE WIN (courtesy South West Phoenix)

South West Phoenix collected their first win of the new league season by coming from behind to defeat Balcatta 3-1 at WesTrac Stadium. Lee Stewart scored twice and Steve Suttie once to catapult Phoenix into fourth position behind unbeaten trio Rockingham City, Fremantle Spirit and Morley Windmills. It took Balcatta only 7 minutes to capitalise on a strong start when Peter Huckett headed in at close-range from a well-worked corner. However, their lead lasted all of five minutes before Suttie converted a penalty awarded for handball against Tom Gaca. Phoenix now upped their work rate and on 35 minutes went ahead through Stewart who jinxed past a trio of opponents before poking the ball into the bottom corner.

Some positional and tactical changes at the break brought Balcatta into the game for the second half, but despite the attempts of Huckett, Ashley Rosendale and Julian Piromalli they struggled in the final third. The fact Balcatta rarely threatened was testament to the non-stop efforts of Dylan Stevens, Chase Parker and Andy Cowley who made an art form of frustrating the visiting side. The points were made safe in the 68th minute when Suttie swung a corner to the back post where Stewart headed powerfully into the net. Phoenix could have added a few more but Ryan Risdon blasted wide while Stewart had a shot saved by goalkeeper Kenny Ftynogiannis. Balcatta did enjoy some late pressure with but, like earlier, failed to manufacture anything resembling a genuine goal scoring opportunity.



Wanneroo City translated their dominance into three valuable points by out-playing Gosnells City 2-0 at Walter Padbury Reserve. Pre-match predictions of a home win looked to be on the money as visiting goalkeeper Daniel Holgate was forced into a fine save after only 5 minutes. However, this was to be Gosnells best chance of the day, the visitors stepping up the pace soon after to control the remainder of the game. The breakthough came on 31 minutes when Rowdy Yates corner was acrobatically dispatched into the net by Jay McDonald. A controversial call by the linesman disallowed what appeared to be a legitimate goal for Brian Cairney, while Matt Donlevy was denied by the crossbar. Wanneroo continued their onslaught into the second half which had been underway nine minutes when Guy McDonald joined his brother on the scoresheet. Cairney then had another goal chalked off, this time for offside, and would have added a couple more to Wanneroo's tally had he been able to capitalise when opportunities arose.



Highlighting the second round of the new Premier League season are a couple of absolute blockbusters. The pick of the action takes place at Dorrien Gardens where Perth SC takes on ECU Joondalup, whose coach is looking forward to the occasion. “Perth is always the benchmark for your season, it’s another tough game but we have to play them sometime so why not now when we are winning,” said Syd Amphlett. Joondalup midfielder Scott Bushby will miss the game through injury, while a late fitness test will determine whether Scottish import Marco Pelosi has a role to play for the hosts.

The other big game features Mandurah City and Floreat Athena at Hyundai Stadium (aka Peelwood Parade). Both are considered serious title contenders and, having opened their season with a home win against Armadale, Floreat are confident of taking all three points away from Mandurah. “We have managed to get the result in four of our five official meetings since Mandurah gained promotion to the Premier League,” said coach Michael Roki. “We are intent on not dropping points at Hyundai Stadium, which is where we lost to them last year in the season opener. We expect a tough encounter, as it always is there but we hope to head back down the freeway with the points.”

Cockburn City journey to Alfred Skeet Oval where they meet an Armadale side bolstered by this weeks recruitment of James Hesketh and Japanese import Nao Oishi. Sorrento will look to captain Todd Harnwell and midfield maestro Glen Thomas when they welcome a focused Stirling Lions line-up controlled from the centre by Marc Anthony and Jordan Rhodes to Percy Doyle Reserve. Canning City will fancy their chances of recording a historic first ever Premier League win when they visit Swan IC. Big losses last week has both determined to kick-start their campaign by taking all three points from this game.

The final game has Western Knights at home to Inglewood United, whose coach is expecting a very close contest. “The Knights have improved immensely under Paul Price and have shown to be very dangerous going forward,” Lee Bamber said. “I think it will be a close even game, just have to make sure we stay disciplined and organised for the full 90 minutes.” Jason Colli and Rory Grant impressed last week against Sorrento and Bamber will be hoping for similar efforts this time out. But it’s the Knights who are the pre-game favourites courtesy of the non-stop efforts of David Price, David Micevski and summer recruit Anthony Campbell.



Balcatta coach Salv Todaro has some unwanted selection headaches leading into Saturday’s home fixture with South West Phoenix. Even though Andy O’Neill, Ashley Rosendale, Julian Piromalli, Adrian Caloeiro and Luke O’Neill could miss the game through injury, Balcatta remain positive and will in no way be underestimating their opponent. “Training has been up-beat this week and the players are fully focused on playing this weekend,” said Todaro. “Phoenix are everyone’s pick to win promotion this year and we realise that we need to keep working hard to be competitive.”

Rockingham City’s good start to the year should continue when they venture to Ashfield. Fremantle Spirit’s dream of a quick top flight return continues with a visit to Dianella White Eagles, who have lost only four home games in the past two seasons. A first up win has boosted confidence at Gosnells City who’ll attempt to upset Wanneroo City and make it two from two. Morley Windmills are tipped to take the points against home team Queens Park. Forrestfield United and Bayswater City will be looking to cast off opening round losses when they meet at Hartfield Park.



Promotion and relegation between the Premier League and First Division remains one-up, one-down as per last year. Bayswater City and South West Phoenix have been singled out as early favourites for promotion, however, lining up behind them and waiting to pounce are a host of other contenders. Indications suggest the battle to avoid the drop will be fiercely contested with Ashfield and Queens Park again in the mix, but a slow start could see any one of a number of clubs sucked into the relegation quagmire. This week Brett Klucznik takes an in-depth look at each of the twelve clubs, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each before the team make a few predictions as to how the 2009 First Division season will pan out …



Premier League champions Sorrento have every intention of becoming the first team to win back-to-back titles since Perth SC achieved it in 2002 and 2003. A come-from-behind defeat of Inglewood United gave the Gulls a flying start to their campaign and midfielder Glen Thomas says three more points against Stirling Lions will help meet their season objectives. “We have a squad capable of challenging for honours again this season and that’s what we hope to do,” said Thomas. “We’re concentrating on getting off to a good start and hopefully that will position us strongly for the rest of the season.”

The Gulls chances of retaining the trophy won last September have been bolstered by the off-season recruitment of defender Daryl Platten, Perth Glory Youth midfielder Reece Vittiglia, striker Ciaran Hughes, and Chilean import Daniel Darras. “The current squad is just as strong as last season, and it’s nice to finally get a settled squad which we can move forward with,” said Thomas. “A key element to winning the League is keeping your key players fit, and we do have a few fitness worries at the moment. Hopefully, that doesn’t get any worse and we can give the League another crack.”

Off the field Sorrento have added considerable experience to the coaching set-up by bringing in former Socceroo Shaun Murphy to assist Steve Neville. “Shaun has obviously played at the highest level so it was a great appointment by the club,” said Thomas. “I’ve been at the club a long time and have always been under attack minded coaches who were themselves attacking players, so it’s been interesting to get Shaun’s perspective on your game. He has spent a lot of time working with the defenders and they are really benefiting from his great tactical and positional knowledge.”

Second half strikes by Danny Hill and Todd Harnwell earned the Gulls a 2-1 win against Inglewood on match day one. “They surprised us by playing quite defensively for a home team, they left one man up front and flooded the midfield which can be frustrating to play against,” said Thomas, who laid on both goals. “At the break our coaches said not to force things, we’d given possession up too cheaply in the first half and hadn’t played with our usual high tempo. We knew if we managed to get an equaliser they would probably open up a bit and that would suit us - which is did.”

The season may be only a week old but already this year’s Premier League is shaping up to be the tightest in years. “I was looking over the fixtures for round one and I couldn’t pick one result with any confidence. There aren’t going to be any easy games this year, and that’s a great advert for football,” said Thomas before taking a punt on this year’s top five. “If I didn’t think we’d be one of them I may as well hang the boots up. Perth have a quality squad and play good football, Floreat have made some good signings, Mandurah will be there if they can be a little bit more consistent and Western Knights are looking revitalised under Paul Price.”

Stirling are the first visitors of the new season to Percy Doyle Reserve when they face Sorrento on Saturday. “Stirling are usually a tough side, they are ambitious and have a good manager in Micky Lyons so this is going to be a tough test,” commented Thomas. “The last few times we’ve played Stirling Ludovic Boi has been outstanding, he’s skillfull and quick so we’ll need to keep an eye on him. They also have Marc Anthony back from Perth Glory, he’s a quality player who can pull the strings in midfield for them if he’s given too much time and space.” Sorrento verses Stirling gets under way at 3.00pm.



Midfielder Mark Lee is considering his playing options after being released by Perth Glory. Although not surprise that a contract wasn’t forthcoming from the A-League club, Lee says he was disappointed by his lack of game time during the summer of 2008/09. “I’d spoken with (coach) Dave Mitchell at the end of the season and it was pretty clear then that I wasn’t part of his future plans,” said Lee, who featured in only two games last season. “I’ve been involved in the game for a long time and I know how it works. Unfortunately, I was not given any opportunities after the second round so it’s been a very frustrating time for me.”

Although circumstances restricted him to just 10 first team appearances, Lee says he thoroughly enjoyed every minute of his time in the A-League. “I have no regrets - none at all,” said Lee, who signed short-term deals with the club in 2006 and 2007 before landing a full-time contract last season. “I gave everything I had when I was training and playing and enjoyed every moment of been a professional player. I only worried about the things I could control and have no regrets as I know I could not give any more. Being selected in squads, getting another contract and playing in my preferred position was not under my control.”

Lee starred on the local stage, most notably by winning the 2005 Gold Medal while at Bayswater City, before stepping into the national arena in late 2006. “I played my first A-League game when I was 27 and always felt very comfortable playing at that standard. The pitches are fantastic, the atmosphere is great and it’s a nice environment to play in,” he explained. “Making my home debut against Adelaide with my wife and parents in the crowd as a definite highlight, as was playing in front of the children I’ve had the pleasure of coaching here in Perth.”

Playing for Glory Youth last season was an enjoyable experience for Lee, who by day is a youth development officer at Football West. “It was great to play for the Youth team as it was a chance to play. No matter what game I play in I love to play. I have coached some of the boys and it was nice to be able to give some advice to them on the pitch,” he commented. “The quality of players in the Youth program is very good, they all have a good attitudes and will hopefully have very bright futures in the game. As long as they work hard and take any opportunity that comes there way all the players have A-League potential.”

The past few months have been hectic as Lee combined his Glory commitments with those at Football West. “It was an ideal situation as I didn’t feel any pressure or worry about a bad training session as I had another focus as soon as training was over,” he commented. “A typical day started at 7am in the office and then off to training for 9am. After training, when the other lads were going to the golf course or the beach, I was back in the office and then coaching in the afternoons, sometimes getting home as late at 10pm - so the days were long.”

At 29, Lee still has a lot to offer the game as a player and is planning a State League return once recovered a foot injury. “I had an operation which stopped me playing for Glory at the start of this year and have been training by myself for the last three weeks. I feel really fit but have not put the boots on so will have to see how it feels when I do this,” he said. “I want to play for a coach who has a similar philosophy on the game - one that encourages his team to play in the correct way and makes training specific to how the game is played. But most of all I want to enjoy playing the game again.”



Matt Danskin can think of no way better to forget an injury-ravaged winter of 2008 by winning the Premier League with Perth SC. The right-sided midfielder has so far has made good on his promise with some good early season form which will go a long way to erasing the bitter memory of last season. “It was very frustrating for me,” said Danskin of last year. “Having done a good pre-season I thought I was as fit as I had been for a while and played some good games in the Night Series. To then only play a handful of games all season was disappointed.”

Last season was a write-off for Danskin who battle on-going hamstring problems. “It seemed to be one thing after another but the main issue was my hamstring, I managed to strain it four times, each time waiting longer than previous to come back but we just couldn’t get it right,” he explained. “And in between I managed to dislocate my shoulder against Stirling Lions, that certainly didn’t help too much in getting fit again and it probably had a hand in me breaking down again.”

With injury behind him, Danskin hopes to play a big part in Perth’s push toward their first regular season title since 2005. “The squad is looking pretty good, it’s the strongest in the five years I have been at the club with everyone player from 1 to 20 able to replace anyone,” he said. “The key is to keep everybody on their toes, knowing if they don’t perform they’ll lose their place, which probably hasn’t been the case in previous years. The squad is what’s going to win us the League so it’s vital that we have the players able to contribute when needed.”

A former Australian youth international, Danskin harbours a desire to play in the A-League but believes the opportunity has now passed him by. “I’m now 24 and I don’t think I warrant being contacted by A-League clubs to be honest,” said Danskin, who played two seasons with German club Werder Bremen as a teenager. “The last few years have been a disaster with injury so my goal is to play 90% of the games this season. And if I play to the best of my ability and contribute to Perth then what ever happens after that is a bonus.”

The Danskin family has deep roots in England football, spanning all the wayback to the formation of London club Arsenal. “We have a huge history in English football. My dad, Andrew, and Bob played for Leeds United and my great uncle was the founder of Arsenal believe it or not … there’s a lot of pride that comes with that,” said the Perth midfielder. “I’d love to replicate their achievements but to be honest I think I have missed the boat with playing at that level. My chance was when I was at Werder Bremen or just after and I didn’t take it so I’ve got to live with that. Now I’m just happy to play and enjoy my football.”



Armadale are hopeful former Perth Glory player Gary Faria will straps on his playing boots in the not too distant future. The creative midfielder has not made an appearance so far this year following the recurrence of a niggling back problem. Faria was a key figure in Armadale pulling clear of the relegation zone last season and his impending return provides the club a massive boost for the new campaign.

Robbie Dunn and Willie McNally will not be part of Perth Glory's set-up in 2009/2010. Dunn, part-time assistant coach to David Mitchell, and goalkeeping coach Willie McNally were recently informed their contracts would not be extended. Kenny Lowe is likely to increase his assistant coach workload to cover for Dunn's departure, while it's understood discussions have already been held with a very well credentialled goalkeeping coach.

The rumour mill has been sent into overdrive by a weekend report in the 'Sunday Times' newspaper saying Perth Glory have signed an unspecified Australian international for next season. Glory has previously indicated interest in luring home Mile Sterjovski or Chris Coyne, and added to the list this week were veteran midfielder Josip Skoko, Romania-based Jacob Burns and 21-year old James Wesolowski, currently at Dundee United.

Swan United has been eliminated from the Reserves Cup by an administrative bungle. Floreat Athena will line-up in the second round of the knock-out competition after it was revealed new Swan striker Matthew Xerri took to part in the game, which the blacks and whites won 7-3, but did not appear on the match card provided to match officials. The draw for Round Two of the Soccer Pools Cup takes place this Friday evening on Heritage FM.

Sorrento, Ashfield and Kingsway Olympic are the big winners from the Community Sporting and Recreation Facilities Fund. Administered by the Department of Sport and Recreation, the program provides financial assistance to local government and sports groups to develop their infrastructure. Sorrento will use the money to install floodlights, Ashfield to construct new change rooms while at Kingsway Olympic there'll be a refurbish of the playing fields courtesy of the City of Wanneroo.



Football West has put themselves amongst some of the leading sporting associations in the world with the recent launch of two new websites. Their traditional home,, has a fresh look for 2009 which makes it more accessible, easier to use and much faster than its predecessor. In addition to the main website, the association has developed, a multimedia website featuring all of the latest match highlights, photo galleries, locker room interviews and audio grabs from the local scene.

Both websites makes it easier for members of the football community to connect with one another. “The two new websites reflects over six months of hard work by Football West, Bam Creative and Fuel Creative to ensure that we can deliver an online presence that is the envy of other associations and codes throughout Australia and the world,” said Ben Fitzpatrick of Football West. “Everyone at Football West is very happy with the final results, and we hope that the football community enjoys using them to get their football fix.”



The State Under-13 Boys team is training hard in preparation for next week’s National Youth Championships in Canberra. Warren Grieve, coach of the team, is looking forward to pitting his talented group of players against the nation’s best. “The boys have been training hard, and it will be good for them to be matched up against the best that Australia has to offer in their age group,” he said. “I believe that the team has what it takes to hold their own in the national competition”

The 2009 West Australian Under-13 squad features Leo Athanasiou, Tom Beadling, Gareth Crawley, Anton De Francesch, Daniel DeSilva, Pasquale Gioffre, Harrison Hawkins, Ben Hombert, Jack Iredale, Ben Johns, Billy Jones, Pearse McKee, Matthew Ntoumenopoulos, Daniel Passarelli, Rocco Pizzata and Dejan Spaseski. The National Youth Championships serves as a talent identification tournament, where national coaches from all levels identify players for national representation, who will hopefully go on to wear the green and gold of Australia.



Nikita Rukavytsya might be only a blip on the Socceroos radar, but the former Perth Gory striker is convinced he can make a late run for Australia’s World Cup squad. The Ukraine born 21-year old netted 16 goals in 42 appearances for Glory and since his move to Dutch outfit FC Twente in January he’s twice tasted first team action. And with his confidence growing by the day, Rukavytsya is focusing on playing in South Africa in just over a years time. “That’s definitely my aim,” he says. “I feel I am in the frame and if I keep doing well and get into Twente the team on a regular basis next season then I’ll have a good chance of going to the World Cup, which would be incredible.”

Rukavytsya left behind family and friends in Perth to pursue his dreams of playing in Europe, and is thrilled with what he’s so far experienced in Holland. “Twente is a great club, they have made me welcome and it has been quite easy to settle in. At training I feel comfortable, and not out of place at all,” he said, before commenting on the contract between the A-League and the Dutch Eredivisie. “The gap is pretty obvious … it’s not massive but there’s a big difference. You see it in training and you see it in matches, with the sheer quality of players and the intensity you need to survive here.”

The Netherlands has long held in high regard for its youth development programs, of which Rukavytsya is now benefiting. “Holland is one of the best places in the world for the development of young players,” he said. “We have seven coaches at training, you work on individual things. It’s unbelievable here. There probably isn’t any other country you will get that level of attention to detail. Plus they push young players on fast here - which means you get a chance to show what you can do quite early in your career, if they think you are up to it.”



Five West Australian teenagers will step on to the international arena this week following selection in the Australian Under-17’s to play Japan. Alex Grant, Byron Hudson, Jessie Marakounis, Sahr Musa, Riley Woodcock, all of the National Training Centre, have been included in Jean-Paul de Marigny’s 26 player squad for the two game series against the Japan Under-15 side. Football West official Warren Grieve is thrilled WA has a high representation in the squad. “This just goes to show the incredible football talent that we have here in WA,” he said. “Football West has a full pathway from grassroots to state and national teams, and are working hard to create more possibilities like this one for our talented players.”

The Australian Under-17 squad to play Japan consists of Jacob Williams (Australian Capital Territory Academy of Sport), Alex Grant, Byron Hudson, Jessie Makarounas, Sahr Musa, Riley Woodcock (Football West), Anthony Proia (Marconi Stallions), Jacob Bandur, Alex Cerruto, Connor Chapman, Samuel Chapple, Joshua Dasilva, Milos Degenek, James Eccles, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Hayden Morton, Yainni Perkatis, Luke Remington, Lachlan Tibbles, Abe Wheelhouse (New South Wales Institute of Sport), Corey Brown (Queensland Academy of Sport), Shaun Harvey, George Hatzipanagiotis, Jake Monaco, Paul Radice (South Australia Sports Institute), and Daniel Sadaka (Sutherland Sharks).



Central Coast Mariners must take three points from Wednesday’s game with against Kawasaki Frontale if they are to take the next step on their Asian Champions League adventure according to midfielder Adrian Caceres. Lawrie McKinna’s side are yet to experience defeat in the competition but need to build on two opening draws if the knockout stage is to be a realistic goal. Caceres, who has previous ACL experience with Melbourne Victory, is relishing the task ahead. “We’re happy with the results so far, but we’re looking forward to the next game and hopefully getting the three points that we need to have a chance of qualifying for the next round,” he told the Mariners official website. “It’s very important to win our home games and we’re yet to win a game, but it’s very important to win on Wednesday if we want to go the next level.”

Caceres, scorer of the Mariners first ever Champions League goal, looms as a telling contributor for his team on Wednesday evening. He made an appearance in five of Victory’s six Champions League group fixtures in early 2008 before linking with the Mariners for their A-League Premiership defence. “Last year we played against Gamba Osaka with the Melbourne Victory and they were brilliant, they were very difficult to play against and they were all very good players, very technical and very fast,” said Caceres of his experiences against the then Champions League holders. “I’m hoping that Kawasaki won’t be as good as Gamba, but it’s going to be an exciting game and one that I’m sure the club will learn a lot from.”



Michael Petkovic is used to standing in the shadow of Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, but at his Turkish club the shot-stopper is the number one man. Petkovic, who was on the bench when the Socceroos defeated Uzbekistan on Wednesday, has become used to getting only the occasional look in with the national team. Regardless of how much playing time he gets, Petkovic said he would always answer the call to fly halfway around the world in the hope of getting his chance. “As a reserve goalkeeper I do my part to improve the team and hopefully put some pressure on Schwarzer,’ he told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’.

Petkovic is content with his place in the Socceroos pecking order. “Not everyone has a guaranteed position and a lot of players come into camp not knowing whether they’re going to play,” said the former Spearwood Dalmatinac player. “But Schwarzer has been the number one ‘keeper for ten years and he’s done a brilliant job for the country. I’m grateful just to be called up and be associated with this bunch of lads. I love coming into camp and training with the coaches and staff and everyone associated with the nation team ... I still want to play for my country and when I get the opportunity I’ll take my chance.”

While he’s made just six national team appearances since debuting in 2001, Petkovic’s workload at club level is somewhat more intense. After playing in excess of 150 games for South Melbourne, he joined Trabzonspor in 2002 and after three seasons switched to Sivasspor. Against the odds, Sivasspor have had a stunning season, climbing to the top of the Super League and leaving in their wake bigger clubs such as Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, Besiktas and Tranzonspor. Petkovic could find himself playing in next year’s European Champion League should his team continue their exceptional run.



A sensational goal by captain Andy Brown inspired Mandurah City to 3-1 win against Stirling Lions in today’s encounter at Macedonia Park. Mandurah coach Stuart Currie rated Brown’s goal, which arrived mid-way through the first half and was complemented by subsequent strikes from Craig Young and Phil O’Callaghan, as one of the best he has ever seen. “Andy’s goal is as good as any I have seen in all my years of football, the ball was chest high when he connected with a scissor kick that hit the top corner before anyone could react,” enthused the coach. “The win was a great morale booster for us, we’re not quite hitting our straps yet and there was a little bit doubt amongst some players. However, it’s given us a lot of confidence for our next game against Floreat.”

The opening exchanges were end to end with Jason Godfrey just failing to connect with a Steve Payne cross, then the home supporters were given encouragement as Alan Muir had a shot blocked on the edge of the 18-yard box. Craig Young was next to threaten with a free-kick that flash past the upright, and on the quarter hour Dean Evans’ stinging shot was well held by Mandurah goalkeeper Phil Straker. Payne evaded a couple of challenge to go through but his clipped attempt cleared the crossbar by the narrowest of margins. The games all-important first goal arrived after 19 minutes, Phil O’Callaghan sending a cross which Brown acrobatically crashed into the net with a perfectly executed bicycle kick.

Mandurah added to their tally six minutes later as O’Callaghan again combined superbly with Brown to send through Young whose stylish finish gave Pacella no chance. The pace continued to be quick as Stirling worked overtime to get back in the game. And that is exactly what they did on 34 minutes when Ludovic Boi eluded two tackles before playing a terrific cross into the path of Keith Clevenger who, after taking a touch, placed his shot wide of Straker. However, Stirling was lucky not to concede again after Payne broke free to go one-on-one with Pacella, who came out trumps in the challenge. There was still time for Mandurah to carve out one more opening, Payne delivering a free-kick on to the head of O’Callaghan who nodded just wide.

There was no let up after the break with the teams trading attacks at breakneck pace. Payne’s brilliantly struck free-kick looked destined to hit the net before the intervention of Pacella, whose save was every bit as impressive as the shot. The game could have been ended as a contest on 63 minutes when O’Callaghan created space for himself by going past a couple of defenders but the striker’s effort was push wide by the outstretched foot of Pacella. Stirling encountered strong resistance from the visiting defence as they strove to get back on level terms, and on the hour coach Mike Lyons added fresh legs by introducing experienced midfielder Jordan Rhodes and young striker Jake Geddes.

Stirling were soon to be denied a goal, Boi pulling the ball back from the touchline to Marc Anthony whose effort flashed past Straker but was cleared off the line by a fortunately placed Chris Wylie. Dean Evans’ goalbound shot cannoned off a team mate inside the 6-yeard box as the home side upped the tempo. However, disaster struck on 83 minutes when Muir was earned an early shower for his cynical foul on Payne. Within two minutes Mandurah had their second as O’Callaghan stole possession from Steven Hesketh and zeroed on in goal before confidently stroking beyond the reach of Pacella. Straker made sure Stirling wouldn’t get any closer than two goals, the ‘keeper saving well a free-kick from Anthony and in stoppage time keeping out Boi’s effort.



Chris Coyne has a point to make to Socceroos coach Pim Vereek after missing out on a starting spot in the Australian team that defeated Uzbekistan 2-0 last week. The Colchester United captain was bitterly disappointed by his omission, especially in light of his outstanding performance in the 1-0 victory over the central Asian side in Tashkent last year. And during the opening moments of Wednesday’s game when Michael Bauchamp, who was given the nod to partner Lucas Neill in defender, Coyne must have been cursing the coach’s decision - but not that he would say as much. “The biggest thing with Pim is that his man management skills are very good. He treats everyone equally and gets the best out of people,” Coyne told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper.

Having rejected interest from the Republic Of Ireland, Coyne waited a long time before making his Australia debut against Iraq last July. After so long in the international wilderness, Coyne considers any place in the squad better than none at all, even though he wants to play every part of every game. “My initial goal was to make sure I was there or thereabouts,” said Coyne, who is determined to prove he has a major role to play in South Africa next year. “Now those goalposts have moved and I want to push on and look forward to something bigger and better.”

In the end, Verbeek’s decisions were justified as Neill and Beauchamp held firm with Josh Kennedy and Harry Kewell getting the goals that decided the game. Coyne, although well rested and prepared for action, could hardly complain. “It makes no difference whether you’re starting or not. You’ve still got to get your head down and do things right,” Coyne said. “If you get the nod, you’re ready to play and of you don’t you can shake your mates hand and wish him luck.” There’s still plenty of time for Coyne to impress Verbeek during Australia’s three remaining qualifiers against Qatar, Bahrain and Japan and October’s friendly with the Netherlands.



A second half goal blitz by Cockburn City resulted in a 6-0 thrashing of Swan United in their opening round fixture at Dalmatinac Park. The home team piled on five goals in just over half an hour to blow Swan away and spear them to the top of the Premier League table. Although thrilled with his team’s massive victory, Cockburn coach Mirko Jelicic still saw plenty of room for improvement, especially from their first 45 minutes. “We weren’t happy with the first half. I thought we were very complacent and we had a heart to heart at half time and we came out better,” he said. “We’ve still got areas of our game to improve on, and today Swan weren’t at their best. When we play the teams at the top of the table we can’t play like we did in the first half.”

It took the home team only 5 minutes to go ahead when Renato Jelen picked out Adam Surjan whose initial shot was blocked, but as Swan appealed for handball the youngster had time to fire into the net via the far post. With the early goal the Cockerels went looking for more, Paul Natale heading just over from a Johnny Mirco corner and soon after debutant Cameron Edwards played in Aaron Dos Santos who was thwarted by Aaron Cole’s well-timed tackle. Swan slowly began getting more involved and should have equalised on 19 minutes through Dom Ando’s ball over top of the defence which found Tom Shepheard unmarked, but with only the goalkeeper to beat the striker wasted his header and the chance was lost. Stephen Guest then cut in from the left and pulled the ball back to Damian Scali, who blazed over from 9-metres.

Although now playing on the counter attack, Cockburn still looked dangerous and Devon Gibson’s pass sent clear Dos Santos but before he could rattle off a shot Chris Ramsey made a courageous smothering save at his feet. Swan were enjoying their best period of the game with Guest featuring in the vast majority of the attacking raids. On the half hour Guest closed in on goal after beating the offside trap only for Dejan Aleksic to block his low strike, and with Tom Shepheard moving in for the rebound the ‘keeper had to move quickly to snuff out the opportunity. As the half ended it was the home side that had the best chances. Jelen again broke down the right and played through to Dos Santos who blazed disappointingly high, and shortly after the striker got his shot on target from 15-metres but could only watch as Ramsey made the save.

An goal early soon after the re-start was what the visitors needed but an unmarked Scali headed just wide from Brendan Knox’s free-kick five minutes in. It would be a costly miss inside a minute Jelen fired in at the back post from Edwards as the visitors were waiting on an offside flag that never arrived. The game could have been ended as a contest a few minutes later when Edwards’ precision pass sent clear Johnny Mirco but the usually reliable striker fired wide on this occasion. However, Cockburn’s supporters were soon celebrating again after Michael Mirco started a great move by threading the ball wide to the left where brother Johnny Mirco played in an inch-perfect pass which Edwards neatly despatched past Ramsey in the 57th minute. To their credit Swan refused to give up hope with Guest volleying wide, Cole’s header was blocked on the line while Knox’s free-kick was held by Aleksic.

This lack of finishing was punished on 73 minutes Johnny Mirco was allowed to waltz through the defence and beat Ramsey from 7-metres. New recruit Brendan Craig tested Aleksic with a low strike as Swan sought a goal of their own. A minute later James Bongiovanni’s long-range effort was tipped over by Aleksic, who superbly kept out David Paone’s curling shot from the resulting corner. However, the day went from bad to worse for Swan who had Cole issued a straight red carded on 79 minutes. Ramsey moved swiftly to deny Dos Santos as the home team attempted to make the extra man count. But there was nothing the Swan ‘keeper could do on 84 minutes when Johnny Mirco crossed for Dos Santos to blast in their teams fifth at the back post. Three minutes later Natale’s pass from the left found substitute Jamie de Abreu who tucked the ball low into Ramsey’s net.



Canning City was given a harsh lesson in the realities of top light football when spanked 5-1 by Perth SC on a warm afternoon at Willetton Sports Club. A Greg Sharland hat-trick laid the foundations for Perth to open the new season with a resounding victory in front of a good size crowd. It was evident from early that Canning would have their hands full dealing with the visitor’s swift movement and fluent passing game. Goalkeeper Devon Spence was called upon twice inside the first few minutes, keeping out shots from David Onoforo and Antonio Naglieri. The hosts first opening came after 9 minutes when Simon Versaico placed just wide after Perth coughed the ball up in their defensive zone. Duaanne Hepburn then struck the upright after receiving a perfectly weighted pass from Michael Roger as Canning began to fire.

The game was swung back in Perth’s favour after 20 minute when Sharland converted a penalty awarded for Spence’s foul on Phil Arnold. Canning was beginning to feel the full effects of a warm day with the hosts showing some clear signs of tiring late in the half. Perth capitalised soon after, Matt Danskin’s cross from the right finding David Onoforo who wrong-footed his marker before slamming into the back of the net from 8-metres. Only a few more minuted passed before Todd Howarth make the most of hesitant defending by running through unchallenged to tuck in his teams’ third goal. The gap widened even further on the stroke of half time when Sharland found the ball at his feet and from the edge of the 18-yard box he fired past Spence to make it four-nil.

Although four goals down, Canning came out for the second half determined to stem the flow and take the game up to their opponent. Even so, Perth continued to threaten but Onoforo shot straight a Devon after a good lead-up involving Arnold, while Genaveo Human almost scored with his first touch but also placed too close to the ‘keeper. The hosts pulled one back in the 75th minute through a Rory Mouttet free-kick to Roger, who had Simon Madaschi stranded with a looping header that crept under the bar. But the day belonged to Perth and five minutes later a series of crisp passes sliced open the hosts before Sharland’s low drive from 10-metres completed his hat-trick. With the result well and truly beyond doubt, both sides were content to play out the final minutes by knocking the ball about without ever seriously threatening to add to their respective tallies.



Sorrento captain Todd Harnwell scored late to snatch his team a 2-1 win from their encounter with Inglewood United at Clipsal Stadium. There were only a dozen minutes remaining when Harwell trickled the ball into the net for a deserved victory, and in the process break the hearts of the Inglewood faithful. “The first half was hard-fought with not much between the two teams, and I was pretty confident at the break that we would get back into the game as Inglewood seemed content to defend their one-goal lead,” said Harnwell. “We applied consistent pressure which paid off with Danny Hill getting the equaliser and then me pinching the winner. It was a great first up result away to a tough opposition.”

Perhaps inspired by the glorious sunshine, Sorrento started confidently and displaying their attacking instincts to the fullest. Brodie Martin laid on the first chance with an in-swinging corner that Hill glanced wide. A few more minutes passed before Harnwell latched on to long ball down the right and released a powerful low shot that Oliver Taseski somehow kept out of his net. So it was against the run of play that Inglewood went ahead with 13 minutes gone, Andy Doyle’s attempt to clear the ball across the face of goal cannoned into Mladen Kovacevic, who hardly knew what had happened as the ball ricocheted off his head and into the net.

It was only now that Inglewood started to assert their authority on the game, Michael Baczynski working tirelessly in the centre and linking well with Danny Richman and Jason Colli down the right side of the park. Colli created a good opening for himself by playing a neat one-two with Rory Grant but before he could get his shot away Danny Cain had come across and conceded a corner. But other than that the hosts had little show for some enterprising play and as half-time neared Sorrento slowly regained control with Glen Thomas in terrific touch. Taseski pushed Stuart Montgomery’s shot on to the crossbar , Martin drilled over from just outside the penalty area, while Hill rose well but nodded high from a corner.

Fired up by the half-time address of Steve Neville, Sorrento came out from the break looking every bit the current champions. Montgomery played a delightful pass to Harnwell but his lobbed effort came back off the bar with Taseski well beaten. A partial clearance was seized on by Thomas whose curling attempt from 18-metres was narrowly high, and soon after Montgomery attempted to squeeze the ball in from an angle only for it to flash past the far post. The Gulls persistence was rewarded on 67 minutes when Montgomery slide the ball through a static defence for Hill to poke under the oncoming ‘keeper, albeit with a suspicion of offside.

A dipping long-range drive by Martin was brilliantly tipped over by Taseski as Sorrento sought to capitalise on their position. Inglewood was by this stage struggling to make inroads and a rare attack ended with Grant scuffing wide from 15-metres. Jamie Mitsopolous showed some exquisite skill just outside the area but his shot curled straight into the arms of ‘keeper Neil Young. Thomas laid on the deciding goal with a clever flick over the defence that put Harnwell in the clear, and with Taseski slow off his line the Gulls captain got enough of a touch to roll the ball into the net. Inglewood tried to snatch a late equaliser but the closer they came was when Grant slid the ball across the face of goal just before the final whistle.


GALLANT REDS DOWN BY FLOREAT (with Tim Lefort, Football West)

Floreat Athena made a winning start to the new season with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Armadale at Litis Stadium. Brad Scott gave the home team a dream start by netting early, and when Daniel Neiderberger added a second with eight minutes remaining it looked like game, set and match. However, Armadale were not to rest on their laurels and substitute Kevin Bissett’s stoppage time effort gave Floreat a few anxious final minutes. “It was important that we started the campaign with three points as we have a tough start - our first five outings including Mandurah City, Sorrento, Western Knights and ECU Joondalup,” said Floreat coach Michael Roki. “Armadale conceded an early goal and we dominated the first half but they showed plenty of character to stay in the game for the entire 90 minutes. The game was played at a reasonably high intensity and Armadale will no doubt take points from anyone who shows any complacency with them this season.”

Neiderberger had a chance to put Floreat ahead after just 2 minutes but goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock was out bravely to smother at the striker’s feet. However, the home side didn’t have wait long before going in front as Scott converted a penalty awarded for Ryan Pearson’s foul on Branimir Mikulic. Only an acrobatic save from Sharrock denied Scott his second with a hooked effort, while at the other end Peter Lord sprayed well wide when trying his luck from distance. Scott was causing the Armadale defence plenty of problems and on the half hour flashed a first time effort just beyond the far post. Mikulic wasted a golden opportunity to increase his side’s lead by heading a near-post corner over the bar, while John Migas twice had shots blocked by a defence under pressure.

The second half opened with chances at both ends on which neither Scott not Gary Bunting could capitalise. Armadale slowly increased their share of possession but should have been two down as David Foster drove across the face of goal, while Scott shot wide rather than pass to one of several better positioned team mates. Floreat Athena finally got their reward when Migas’ surged to the edge of the 18-yard box and cleverly played through Neiderberger who clincally drilled across the ‘keeper and into the bottom corner. To their credit, the visitors continued to attack with Ben Kelly denied by a last-ditch block and Marlon Ramirez volleyed high following a corner. But their efforts paid dividends in the 91st minute when Bissett was left with a simple tap-in at close-range after Bunting had done well down the left to create the chance.



ECU Joondalup started their season in the best possible fashion, a 1-0 win over Western Knights at the Edith Cowan University campus ground. An opportunistic goal from Scott Bushby just before the interval was enough to give Joondalup all three points from a tightly contested but ill-tempered affair that saw one players from each team red carded. The game started at a brisk pace and Okwy Diamondstar should have put the Knights ahead after 4 minutes but failed to keep his powerful header down at a corner. Next to go close was David Micevski whose free-kick from distance caught goalkeeper Dafydd Jones by surprise as the ball whistled just past the post.

It was all pretty much one-way traffic as David Price played through to Mario Marcinko, who was denied a shot by the quick thinking of the Joondalup custodian. Ryan McDarby created the hosts first opening with a terrific cross-field pass to which Tommy Amphlett’s goal bound strike was well saved by Frazer Siddall. The Knights custodian was in top form, keeping out a couple of efforts from Amphlett and one from Ryan Williams to ensure the teams remained locked together. But just as it looked as though the half would end without either team scoring, Garin Collins swung a free-kick into the defensive wall, the ball ricocheting to Bushby who acrobatically poked his shot past Siddall from 10-metres, giving Joondalup the advantage.

The Knights came out from the break full of running and focused on equalising. And it looked as though they’d found it after 51 minutes when Seb Trim found the back of the net, however, it wouldn’t count as referee Troy Miller whistled for an infringement in the lead-up. The dismissal of David Annall for using foul language towards the referee seriously dented the visitors hopes of getting back on level terms. The result could have been secured but Collins shot was superbly saved by Siddall following knock-down by captain Ian McMurray. A rash stoppage time challenge by David Micevski on Bushby had the Joondalup player literally seeing red, Miller sending him off for an over-reaction to what was admittedly a rash tackle.



A brilliant late save by Alan Dunlop allowed Gosnells City to record a deserved 3-2 win against Bayswater City in this afternoon’s game at Frank Drago Reserve. It was one of many saves the Gosnells custodian was forced to make during a pulsating second half in which Dunlop showed he’d lost none of the sharpness that earned him State team selection six years ago. “The intensity, the tackling, the passes the finishing, everything was good,” said Gosnells coach Tony Maguire, who rated Gosnells’ first half as the best he’d seen since jointly taking the reins with Dunlop earlier this year. “We put so much energy into the first half to go three-nil up and I think we wasted a lot of real good energy. In the second half, definitely in the last twenty minutes, we were starting to tire but full credit to Bayswater, they kept at it and took it right to the wire.”

Gosnells took the lead after 10 minutes through midfielder Fraser Glennie, with Allan Claxton and Stuart Aitken adding to the tally before the break. The sending off of Ryan Jeans in the 59th minute, for a second yellow card, did not deter Bayswater, who then proceeded to throw everything at the visitors. The threat Bayswater posed intensified as the half wore on but they could fond no way past Dunlop and his well-organised defence. Their relentless attack was rewarded when Damien Catalano finally got a shot past Dunlop. And it was only a matter of time before Bayswater scored again, this time via Anthony McStea who squeezed in the ball during a goalmouth scramble with just six minutes of regulation time left. With time running out, the ball fell to Ian Griffiths who fierce strike was brilliantly saved by an airborne Dunlop.


ROCKINGHAM START WITH A BANG! (by Adam Stewart, Rockingham City)

A strong attacking instinct has paid dividends for Rockingham City who won 3-1 against Queens Park in front of more than 300 fans this evening at Rockingham Sportsplex. A positive start from Queens Park had Mark Humphries miss a early chance and Simon Baah send a free-kick just over the crossbar. It was then the hosts sparked into life through good movement of the ball and the pace of Craig Howard and David Clark. They were nearly rewarded through Richard Lacey’s free-kick which beat the goalkeeper but sailed untouched through the 18-yard box. Luka Ivancic was everywhere and produced an early shot that also cleared the bar. The endless pressure took it’s toll on Queens Park on the half hour when a clumsy challenge on Ivancic resulted in a penalty which captain Jon McCreery slotted in. As expected, the visitors responded strongly only to be held out by a strong defence who ensured their team lead at the break.

The second half resumed with Rockingham continuing to mount pressure on their opponent as Ivancic forced a good save from the ‘keeper. Andrew Keary cast off a quiet first half by drifting into the box unchecked only to slam his shot just wide of the far post. With 65 minutes gone Keary made amends by bating the ‘keeper to hammer in Rockingham’s second goal. The introduction of Cam Maguire soon after had almost immediate effect with the midfielder denied a goal with his first touch only by some desperate defending. With Queens Park showing little resistance, Rockingham dominated the remainder of the game which, was almost at an end when man of the match Ivancic powerfully headed in a Maguire cross to wrap up the game. The only disappointing aspect of the night for Rockingham was a late goal from Baah to salvage the visitors a modicum of pride.


PHOENIX LEAVE IT LATE TO GRAB A SHARE (courtesy South West Phoenix)

South West Phoenix scored three late goals to salvage a 5-5 draw with Dianella White Eagles in a dramatic game at the Westrac Stadium in Bunbury. The game looked to be well and truly over after goals by Rodrigo Aguirre (2), Dragan Njegic, Stefan Smiljanic and Wes Ryder had Dianella 5-2 up with only a few ten minutes to go. However, the hosts had other ideas and Lee Stewart gave them a glimmer of hope by completing his hat-trick before Chase Parker and David Murphy chirped up to split the points. “We showed a lot of fight and spirit and refused to give in when , frankly, the game looked lost,” said Phoenix veteran Steve Suttie. “Being 5-2 down was not acceptable and we know we have a lot of improving to do.”

Aguirre gave Dianella a dream by converting a 5th minute penalty awarded for a soft foul on Smiljanic. The margin was widened ten minutes later by Smiljanic, who glided past three opponents to fire in from 15-metres. Phoenix’s response came via a Rory Binnie cross that the goalkeeper tipped away from Steve Suttie only to see Lee Stewart hit the loose ball into the net. Parity was restored when Stewart finished well a one-on-one with the ‘keeper. Phoenix looked the better side at this stage but it was the visitors who scored in the 40th minute through a terrific long-range strike by Njegic. Then, right on the stroke of half-time, Dianella were awarded another penalty with which Aguirre again made no mistake.

Phoenix started the second half positively but soon found themselves even further behind when Ryder sent the ball past Ryan Montgomery for a fifth time. Thinking they had the game in the bag, Dianella then took their foot off the pedal, content to sit on top of their then own 18-yard box. But this tactic backfired on 84 minutes when Suttie provided a cross to substitute Parker, who slid the ball through for Stewart to net from 7-metres. The deficit was further reduced by Parker’s fine glancing header which found the bottom corner. The momentum was well and truly with the hosts and in the final minute they grabbed a dramatic equaliser when Parker headed on to Murphy, who placed his header over the ‘keeper and under the bar to snatch a point.



Scott Gooch has resigned as chief executive of Perth Glory to take up a role with AFL team Fremantle Dockers. During his two-year tenure Gooch was instrumental in securing a new major sponsorship deal with QBE Insurance and conducted a major restructure of the club’s administration and football departments. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Perth Glory and it was an incredibly tough decision to leave during an exciting period for the club and the sport,” he said. “I’ll continue to be a strong supporter of Perth Glory and look forward to seeing the plans we have set in place come to fruition and have full confidence in the team to steer the club to the success we’ve all worked hard to achieve.”

Glory owner and chairman Tony Sage thanked Gooch for the contribution to the club. “Scott came to the club during a time of transition from the Football Federation to new owners and he diligently set about achieving our ambitious plans to reshape the club on and off the field,” said owner and chairman Tony Sage. “He has set a solid foundation from which Perth Glory can continue to grow and prosper and I thank him for his hard work over the past few years.” Deputy chairman Lui Giuliani, who has been working closely with Gooch and the administration team over the past two months, will be acting chief executive until a permanent replacement is found.



The time for talk is over as the 2009 Premier League season kicks into life with a full round of entertainment over the weekend. It’s a big day at Canning City whose first ever Premier League game is at home to perennial powerhouse Perth SC. Frank Longstaff is quietly optimistic that his side can match it with the recently crowned Night Series winners. “The game against Perth is a massive test for us, but one we will certainly be up for and giving it a red hot go,” he said. “We hope there is a good crowd on hand to watch.”

Inglewood United has a tough opening fixture, at home to reining champions Sorrento. “Saturday’s game doesn’t get any bigger for us, the reigning champions in the first round. It will be a difficult game but one that we are looking forward too,” said Inglewood boss Lee Bamber, who has been watching closely Louis Parkinson’s recovery from long-term injury. “Louis did well on Saturday and took his goal well (against University of WA), but his injury is still being monitored by the club physios.”

Western Knights head into the game at ECU Joondalup are red-hot favourite. The Knights have lost only once in their past nine outings and, coming off a 10-0 Cup thrashing of Rockingham City in which Anthony Campbell and David Micevski starred, they’ll be gunning big for victory. Syd Amphlett is pleased with the way his squad has been coming together of late and this week welcomed the arrival of English defender Charlie Comyn-Platt, who should make his State League debut on Saturday.

Swan United’s first appearance under their new moniker is against Cockburn City at Dalmatinac Park. Already written off by some, Cockburn will look to strong performances on the day from Paul Natale, Aaron Dos Santos and captain Johnny Mirco to approve their detractors wrong. The absence of Matthew Xerri (suspended) from the black and whites line-up is offset with Tom Shepheard’s return for what many view as a must-win game for Swan.

Saturday evening’s clash between Floreat Athena and Armadale at Litis Stadium will be broadcast live on Heritage FM, 107.3FM. David Foster has had no trouble finding the net of late thanks to the supply of Jason Barrera and Branimir Mikulic, leading many to question just how many goals will Floreat score this weekend. But Armadale are themselves no slouches and with Gary Bunting, Peter Lord and Marlon Ramirez firing in midfield they fancy their chances of causing the opening day upset.

The Sunday game takes place at a refurbished Macedonia Park where Stirling Lions have hosting rights against Mandurah City. The absence of Jay Bonser (thigh), Andy Brown (foot) and Jeff Bright (knee) is going to make it tough for the visitors but coach Stuart Currie remains confident nonetheless. “Obviously we would love to come home with the three points, however, Stirling are a very good side and I’m sure if we come away with a draw we will not be disappointed.”



The highlight of the opening round of the 2009 First Division is the Wanneroo City-Balcatta clash at Kingsway Sporting Complex. “The league will be very close with about eight or nine teams having the potential to challenge for the championship,” said Wanneroo boss Gerry McEwan. “Three points on Saturday would be most welcome as Balcatta will be one of those who’ll be up there this season.” There are injury concerns in both camps with McEwan likely to be without Chris Pugh and Sam Cornwell. Luke O’Neill (hamstring), Tom Gaca (work) are definite non-starters for Salv Todaro, who will await last fitness tests on Andy O’Neill (hamstring) and Julian Piromalli (groin) before giving either the nod.

Bayswater City are one of the frontrunners for the First Division title and get their campaign under way on Saturday with a home date against Gosnells City. Another of the favourites, South West Phoenix, will be hoping for a repeat of last years visit by Dianella White Eagles when the Bunbury-based club ran out victorious by 9-2. Fremantle Spirit’s return to the second tier begins with a home game against a much-changed and somewhat revitalised Ashfield. Forrestfield United’s good pre-season will have all been for nothing should they go down to Morley Windmills at Wotton Reserve. Rockingham City are expected to account for Queens Park when they swing by Rockingham Sportsplex.



2009 marks the fiftieth season of semi-professional football in Western Australia and the race for the Premier League championship is shaping up to be one of the most compelling in memory. Front-runners Sorrento, Perth SC and Floreat Athena will face strong challenges from the rapidly improving Western Knights, a much underrated Inglewood United and the emerging power that is Mandurah City. The relegation battle is also difficult to predict with newcomers Canning City achieving respectable pre-season results and no glaring weaknesses amongst the existing teams. Tom Della Vedova takes a close look at each of the twelve clubs, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each before the team make a few predictions as to how the 2009 Premier League season will pan out …



When goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski left Perth in pursuit of the greener pastures of Macedonia eighteen months ago he had no idea what the next chapter his career would hold. The move to FK Pobeda could not have turned out better for the talented shot-stopper who has drawn rave reviews from the Macedonian press, a national youth team call-up and a key role in his team finishing last term in sixth position. But the new season has thrown up an unexpected hurdle for Pobeda, who are knee-deep in a match fixing scandal. “This season hasn’t been going the greatest,” he commented. “The club has been caught in some match fixing allegations and things are a bit fragile at the moment with money, and our results have been poor on the park.”

UEFA announced last month that Pobeda had been charged with manipulating the outcome of the Champions League qualifying game with Armenian outfit Pyunik in mid-2004 - well before Vrteski joined the club. Despite the unwanted distractions this has caused, Vrteski is enjoying life both on the park and away from the playing arena. “Life is pretty steady at the moment. I’ve been here long enough to say that you could consider me a local,” Vrteski joked. “I know the language and the people, so I have no real problems with being away from home. I also had my girlfriend over for six months until the end of November last year, so it was good to have someone from back home with me.”

Since moving to Europe Vrteski has heard nothing from Football Federation Australia and could become the latest in a long line of Australian’s to commit to another nation following his call-up to the Macedonian Under-21’s. “Until I play a full senior international for Macedonia I still have the right to play for Australia but since I left Perth Glory I haven’t heard anything from FFA, which is a little disappointing,” commented Vrteski, who was on the bench for the recent game with Greece. “I’m hoping to just bide my time for now. I’ve worked really hard over the last year and a half and earned myself a place in the squad, now I intend to continue to work hard and hopefully get my chance in the starting eleven.”



Stirling Lions will be looking to cast aside a flat start to the year when they host Mandurah City in the opening round of the new Premier League season on Sunday. A difficult pre-season yielded mixed results for Stirling whose president, Don Evans, is tipping a big year for the club. “We’ll be a dramatically different team when the season starts,” he said. “Dean Evans, Ludo Boi, Steven Hesketh and Marc Anthony are back with us having played for Perth Glory during the off-season, and with experienced players such as Darko Ilomanoski, Danny Stoitis, Dino Pacella and Jordan Rhodes all available for selection the team starts looking more formidable.”

Senior coach Mike Lyons used the Night Series, in which Stirling won two of their five games, to get a good look at his young chargers in a competitive match environment. “We were satisfied with the performance of what was probably the youngest squad we have entered in the tournament,” said Evans. “We matched the big guns of Perth, Sorrento and the Knights for good periods in those games and comfortably won against Swan and ECU Joondalup, so it was good experience overall for our debutants - I think we had around eight players who had not tasted senior football before.”

It was inevitable that with a largely inexperienced group of players there would be mistakes made and lessons learned the hard way. “There were some good lessons learnt, particularly against the Knights when our youngsters thought they had the game in the bag when two-nil up at the break. But they weren’t switched on from the get go in the second half and we ended up getting spanked by a more experienced outfit,” said Evans. “We were very happy with the way the youngsters acquitted themselves during the Night Series, they played as a unit and proved to the coaching staff they have what it takes to be regular first team players in years to come.”

Stirling made only a few choice recruits during the summer, amongst them goalkeeper Dino Pacella and experienced defender Daniel Stoitis. “Dino and Daniel have been top shelf pick ups with both adopting leadership roles in the defensive quarter and finally adding some voice to what was a fairly mute defence. Their experience is invaluable and the young lads are learning plenty from them since the boys arrived,” said Evans. “Dino is commanding voice in the box and is a solid and proven performer respected by all the lads at the club. And Daniel is no different, he has adopted the fatherly role with the youngsters like Tom Senior, Chris Harlond and Tom Kennedy.”

Igor Ilijic, a former Red Star Belgrade junior, and Murtaza Sadiqi are Stirling’s two off-season imports. “Igor is not yet 100% fit but is slotting in slowly. He’s commanding in the air, plays the sweeper role in a very cool manner and has shown he’ll be a handy player in our back four,” commented Evans. “Murtaza is a towering striker who played in the Iranian league last season. He’s only 21 but stands at over 2 metres, it’s going to take him a bit of time to acclimatise but we’re hopeful he’ll add to our options in the forward line.

Stirling is a club renowned for their strong focus on youth development and that will be the case again in 2009 with a number of teenagers expected to sample senior football in the coming campaign. “The coaching staff have been very impressed by Keith Clevenger’s ability to work hard and score goals. Rory Feely has impressed with his heading ability and power running at defenders,” said Evans. “Jake Geddes has a Phil Arnold-style to his game but has the composure Phil may have been lacking. Matthew Italiano is the quiet achiever, he’s also back to full fitness and his best form.”

The only problem Stirling now face is that they are able to have just eleven players on the park at the same time. “The defence is stronger than ever with selection headaches for the coaches as Darko Ilmanoski, Igor Ilijic, Danny Stotits, Steven Hesketh, Michael Pugliese, Chris Harlond, Chris Rutherford vy for four places,” said Evans. “Midfield is just as competitive with Alan Muir, Marc Anthony, Ludo Boi, Dean Evans, Jordan Rhodes, Matt Italiano, Jake Geddes all looking for a role to play, while the attack is bolstered by Murtaza Sadiqi with Rory Feely, Keith Clevenger and Jake Geddes all capable strikers.”

With the season only days from starting, Evans has seen and heard enough to know Stirling are capable of keeping pace with the leaders. “There will be no easy games this year with a very even competition expected. The perennial power-houses of Sorrento, Floreat Athena and Perth SC will be favoured while Mandurah City, Inglewood United and ourselves should be in the mixer,” he said. “A top four finish is our goal and Cup success is something we now have a good taste for, with our new look playing field and the Macedonia Park facility upgrade we are hoping for big crowds to come and Roar for our Mighty Lions!”



Richard Garcia was a teenager when he left Perth to pursue a dream with English Premier League club West Ham United - and now at the age of 27 he’s dreaming even bigger. The former Perth SC player is on the cusp of featuring at next year’s World Cup in South Africa after making his first Socceroos start in last night’s win over Ubzekistan. Australia struggled to get to grips with the visitors before turning up the heat in the second half when a couple of rapid fire goals by Josh Kennedy and Harry Kewell secured them victory.

The Hull City midfielder admits that not so long ago he thought his opportunity to play for the Socceroos had passed him by. “There was a long stage when I didn’t get a shout from the Australia team at all and in the back of your mind you wonder whether it will ever come,” he told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “You are resigned to the fact that it might not come. And it makes me so happy that it has come, and I hope I get more of it.”

Garcia made a nervous start on the right side of midfield but came into his own after the break, earning the penalty that was converted by Kewell to seal the victory. He admitted that after just three previous appearances off the bench and only making his debut last August against South Africa, he suffered from some early nerves last night. “I think it was mostly confidence,” he said. “I was just a little bit nervy at the start. Once the pace stepped up it suited me better.”

Garcia’s mum, grandmother and other family members flew into Sydney to witness his first full 90 minutes and, given coach Pim Verbeek’s high praise, there might be plenty more opportunities to cheer him on. “I thought I had a solid week of training and the manager was impressed with me, so he said I deserved a chance,” Garcia said. “Hopefully it does all come together at the right time. I’m still improving and I want to keep playing regularly for the Socceroos. Hopefully I hit my peak at the World Cup.”

Verbeek said Garcia was the ideal replacement for injured Blackburn Rovers winger Brett Emerton, who is recovering from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament. “He’s playing a lot of games at the moment,” Verbeek said. “He was very good in training this week. He started nervous in the first half, it was definitely not good. But in the second half he did what he had to do. He brings a lot of power in the team, he’s fast and he’s bringing what we missed in losing Brett Emerton. That was the type of player we needed on the right side to bring that speed and power.”



ECU Joondalup’s plans to wash away the disappointments of last season have gathered momentum following the arrival of former Swindon Town player Charlie Comyn-Platt. The 23-year old central English non-League club Weston-Super-Mare to take up an offer from Joondalup, a move coach Syd Amphlett could not be happier about. “We’re delighted to sign Charlie,” he said. “He trained on Wednesday with the players and he seems to be a great guy and has fitted in really well. Charlie will bring a vast amount of experience to our defence and give us some stability back there. I’m looking for someone to take control of the back line and bring the young kids along and I believe he will be that player.”

The opportunity to play in Perth, which came about through former Joondalup player Jamie Gibb, who Comyn-Platt played alongside at Bolton, was simply too good to pass up. “It is a fresh start for me. It will be good for me and a good experience and opportunities like this don’t come around very often,” said Comyn-Platt, who can’t wait to make his debut for Joondalup. “The club have made me welcome and I’m looking forward to Saturday’s opening league game against Western Knights.”

Comyn-Platt began his career with Bolton Wanderers, making his senior debut against Walsall in late 2003 and playing a further three games for the club. After a loan spell at Wycombe Wanderers, he joined for Swindon in mid-2005 and went on to make 30 League and Cup appearances under a succession of managers during his two seasons with the Robins. Another loan, this time to Grays Athletic, preceded an unsuccessful move to Rochdale. He signed for Weston-Super-Mare in November 2007 and played 31 times, the majority of them as team captain.



Australia have moved to the brink of qualification for the 2010 World Cup with this evening’s hard-fought 2-0 win over Uzbekistan. The Socceroos now need only a single point from their last three qualifiers to secure their place in South Africa thanks to second half goals by Josh Kennedy and Harry Kewell. “There was a lot of pressure on tonight’s game because we knew had to win the game and we did and now we could be the first team to qualify for the World Cup,” said Socceroos captain Lucas Neill. “The second half, the boys put a lot of pressure on and we got what we deserved.”

There were few chances in a lacklustre first half but both sides would have felt they could have gone into the break in front. Scott MacDonald shot low but straight at goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov with only a few minutes gone, then a terrific through ball created an opening for Farhod Tadjivev whose angled effort flashed across Mark Schwarzer and wide of the far post. Australia’s best chance came after 16 minutes when Scott MacDonald’s cross was tamed by Marco Bresciano but the midfielder drove too close to Nesterov.

Schwarzer was relieved to see Tadjivev’s cracking shot from edge of 18-yard box go wide nine minutes after the break. Australia sprang to life after Jason Culina forced a top-class save from Nesterov with a terrific curling shot from 25-metres. Kennedy had been on the park only six minutes when he rose to steer in a precision cross by Bresciano. And worries of an Uzbek comeback were killed off seven minutes later when Richard Garcia was brought down in the box by Hayrulla Karimov, and Kewell coolly converted the penalty.



The past few months have been a nightmare for Swan United goalkeeper Daniel Agudelo as injury forces him to watch the game he loves from the sidelines. Persistent back problems hampered 21-year old Agudelo, an Australian Schoolboys international, a couple of years back but it’s a serious knee injury that’s keeping him out of the game at the moment. “It’s very hard mentally and physically knowing you are capable of doing things but unable to produce because you are limited,” he said. “I was struggling with a re-aggravated back injury that kept me out in 2005 then needed a knee reconstruction after playing against Armadale.”

Agudelo’s frustration has been compounded by the fact he would have been Swan’s first choice ‘keeper this season as regular number one Cory Hugo works to overcome an ankle ligament injury. “Disappointing is an understatement - it would have been great to be playing first team but right now I’ll be happy to just be playing. I try not to think about what I could have been doing, just what I need to do to get back,” said Agudelo, who hopes to start training in four months and is targeting 2010 for this playing return. “It’s a very long rest for me. Basically all I can do is keep working hard on rehab to strengthen and stabilise my knee and leg.”



The State Under-14 Girls team is hard at work preparing for next months National Youth Championships. The week-long tournament, being held in Canberra from 11th April, provides national coaches at all levels an opportunity to assess the Australia’s best young talent and identify future Matildas. Played who are identified at the upcoming Championships will have the chance to represent Australia at an upcoming international tournament in Asia during May.

The West Australian Under-14 Girls squad consists of Beth Wimbush (Albany), Lauren Blackledge (Beelair), Amy Smeding, Korien Stainbridge (East Fremantle), Monique Saunders, Toni Walden (Geraldton), Thia Eastman (Gosnells City), Giorgia Alford, Hope Compton, Alia Kamiya (Heathridge), Alexandra Lovelock (Kingsley), Emily Burton, Zoe Covell, Evie Gooch, Rebecca Moore, Rachel Oliver, Esther Richie (Melville), Emily Henderson (Perth Hills), Sarah Carrol (Subiaco) and Caitlin Doeglas (Wanneroo City).



Socceroos defender Chris Coyne could celebrate his first national cap on home soil by playing in front of the biggest crowd of his life in the World Cup qualifying showdown with Uzbekistan. Coyne is favoured to replace veteran Craig Moore and partner captain Lucas Neill in the heart of Australia’s defence on Wednesday, however, he knows there’s no guarantee he’ll be given a spot in Pim Verbeek’s starting eleven. “I’d love to play on home soil if I get the opportunity,” he said. “The manager’s very good at keeping his cards pretty close to his chest. It’s good because it keeps everyone on their toes and it means that everyone’s got to fight for their position.”

Weighing heavily in Coyne’s favour are five solid performances since being plucked from the obscurity of England’s third tier by Verbeek to make his Socceroos debut at 29 against Iraq last year. “There were a few boys that came in from the wilderness under Pim and I think he just said ‘I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done, you earn a spot in my side’ and I was fortunate enough to get that opportunity,” he said. “I thought the opportunity had passed me by, and I wasn’t getting any younger. I’ve managed to realise a life-long goal and I’m not going to let that go easily now. I’ve enjoyed every minute and I hope to enjoy many more hours of it.”

After being overlooked for so long, Coyne knows he can’t afford to ever look further than the next game. Even so, with Australia on the verge of qualifying for a second straight World Cup, the 30-year old knows the greatest chapter of his career could be about to be written. “Any young kid that starts playing football would want the opportunity (to go to the World Cup), but it’s 18 months away and it’s something that would only cross your mind as it gets closer and closer,” he said. “I had confidence in my ability all along ... but you can never rest on your laurels in this game because it sort of comes back to kick you.”

Coyne, whose younger brother, Jamie, is captain of Perth Glory, said an A-League career was not too far away. “I’ve always wanted to come back and play in the A-League because I left home at such a young age,” said Coyne, who played locally for Sorrento, Kingsway Olympic and Perth SC before taking up an apprenticeship with London club West Ham United in 1996. “Obviously being a Perth boy I’d love to come home and play for Perth. It could be six weeks, or six months or six years, but I’ve got a box to tick and it’s something I’d like to do sooner rather than later.”

Coyne is joined in the Socceroos squad by Richard Garcia (Hull City) and Michael Petkovic (Sivasspor) as the drought for international recognition for West Australian’s begins to break. “There is three of us now which is nice,” Coyne said. “We’ve all had a pretty much had a very similar upbringing in the game in WA so it’s definitely good for West Australian football to show that if you do the right things and work hard that the progression’s there. I suppose we are flying the flag for Perth and WA and it’s something that does make us proud, but we need more WA boys to push on and keep the flag flying.”



The opportunity to continue playing top flight football was all the motivation Jason Barrera needed to transfer to Floreat Athena during the off-season. The talented young midfielder, who finished second behind then Fremantle Spirit team mate Dale Wingell in the 2007 Gold Medal count, has adapted well to the tuition of experienced Floreat coach Michael Roki. “I’ve really settled in well and it’s helped me to have former team mates Callum Roberts and Simon Elton-Bott joining the club too,” Barrera explained.

The midfielder came within a hair’s breadth of joining Floreat side early last year before staying loyal to Fremantle. And while last season was tough going for the port side, who were relegated without wining a game, Barrera has absolutely no regrets. “It was a late decision by Floreat to approach me but I thought I’d do the right thing by Marc Wingell and Fremantle Spirit to stay on for another year,” he commented. “We had a disappointing season but the lads stuck together and we were really unlucky in some games but that’s football.”

21-year old Barrera has been at Floreat only a short time but draws parallels with the strong work ethic and brand of football played at his former club. “At Fremantle Marc always wanted us to play football and that won us a great deal of admirers in the game, but didn’t help us on the table and we were relegated,” he said. “Both coaches, Marc and Michael, are great and have similarities, but at Floreat we train a great more deal with the balls, which I enjoy. You can work a few things at training and hopefully they come off at the weekend.”

Roki has been a long time admirer of Barrera and, although delighted to have finally lured him to Floreat, admits to be taken aback somewhat by the midfielder’s application and intensity. “Jason played well through the Night Series and his work rate has exceeded my incorrect expectations,” commented the coach, now in his sixth season with Floreat. “He adds creativity to the front third and our forwards will only benefit from his input over the course of the season.”

Barerra, better known as ‘Chilli’ to his team mates, played extensively for Western Australia as a junior and would jump at the chance of representing the State at senior level. “To play for your State is a great honour and I really enjoyed getting away with the squad,” said Barrera, a key member of the State Under-14 team which won the Singapore Tournament in 2001. “To win the tournament in Singapore was great. If I can play consistently for Floreat then it would be nice to earn a State call-up at senior level too.”


ON THIS DAY … 1992

Gareth Naven and Shaun Murphy were in fine form on the afternoon of Sunday 29th March, 1992, when Western Australia drew 1-1 with Singapore at Bayswater Oval. Naven’s remarkable determination produced WA’s goal and Murphy displayed all the class and composure that earned him a place in Australia’s Olympic team. Fans who saw the previous meeting of the sides in 1990 which produced a tingling 4-4 draw would leave disappointed with both teams suffering the effects of league and friendly commitments earlier in the week.

The game got off to a crackerjack start for WA who took the lead after only seven minutes. Midfield general Naven won possession in the centre of the park and set off on a typically spirited run before laying the ball off to Ori Colli whose snap on goal was blocked by goalkeeper Jefri Rahamad and Naven pounced to lash the loose ball in at close-range. As the half came to a close Singapore upped the pressure and an ice-cool Murphy twice came to WA’s rescue by thwarting dangerous raids.

Paul Strudwick was unfortunate not to double the lead on 75 minutes with a powerful header from Stan Lazaridis’ free-kick to which replacement ‘keeper Abdul Malek responded with a superb save. Six minutes later Murphy was cruelly punished for his solitary error of the afternoon, the defender misjudging the pace of a back pass to ‘keeper Tommy Maras and lively forward Malek Awab was in like a flash to toe poke the ball home. A stinging shot in the closing minutes from Naven nearly stole the glory for the State side.

Western Australia: Tommy Maras, Steven Willey, Shaun Murphy, Craig Naven, Taki Nicolaides, Gareth Naven, Lou Collova, Brain McLatchie, Paul Strudwick, Ori Colli (Carl McDarby 63), Stan Lazaridis



Stirling Lions progressed to the next stage of the Soccer Pools Cup after defeating a determined Wanneroo City 2-1 on an overcast day at Macedonia Park. The deciding goal came via a fantastic free-kick by Steven Hesketh which added to Rory Feely’s opportunistic first half goal and cancelled out Brain Cairney’s equaliser which arrived midway through the second period. Stirling coach Mike Lyons was pleased with his team’s dominance against their First Division opponent. “We ground out a result today; we had the ball for 90% of the first half and only converted one,” he said. “The new pitch made the ball travel slowly which caused us problems in the final third but we’re delighted to be in the next round.” Not so happy was Wanneroo boss Gerry McEwan, who was disappointed by a few decisions by the match officials. “A couple of decision can change a whole game and they did today,” he said. “They received a dubious free-kick on the edge of the box and scored, while we were denied a clear cut penalty.”

The home dominated from the opening exchanges with Dean Evans’ early effort from distance tipped over the crossbar by Daniel Holgate. It was backs to the wall for Wanneroo and Holgate had to be alert again on the quarter hour to keep out Jason Mirco’s volley. The visitors first chance came on 18 minutes, a quick break from Michael McEwan ended with his long-range shot flying well over. Stirling’s persistence was rewarded on 23 minutes when Marc Anthony’s long-range shot was spilled by Holgate to Feely, who tapped in at close-range. The Wanneroo goalkeeper made up for his error with great saves to deny Feely and Ludovic Boi as the Lions looked to drive home their advantage. Chris Donnelly headed too close to Dino Pacella at a corner as Wanneroo attempted to equalise, while on the stroke of half time Anthony’s shot was saved low by Holgate to keep the difference to a single goal.

Wanneroo substitute Robbie Cuthbert was soon in the action, his run and cross from the right being cut out by the quick thinking of Pacella. Moments later Cuthbert was involved at the opposite end where he cleared Darko Ilomanoski’s powerful header of the line. Wanneroo deservedly drew level on 63 minutes when Tom Orme sent clear Cairney who finished neatly past Pacella, much to the delight of the travelling supporters. Stirling waited just six minutes to respond, Hesketh curling a delightful free-kick over the defensive wall to catching Holgate stranded. Chances came and went for both teams as the clock ticked down. Cuthbert fired inches wide after good work from Craig Highett, while Evans’ free-kick swung just past the post a few minutes later. Appeals for a late Wanneroo penalty were waved away by referee Matthew Cheeseman after Guy McDonald was brought down by Danny Stoitis.



After making the long journey to the upper echelons of English football, Richard Garcia hopes to finally play his first senior match on Australian soil in Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan. The Hull City attacking midfielder left Perth over a decade ago to pursue a professional career and struggles to remember the last time he played a match in the country of his birth. “I can’t remember, I don’t think I’ve played a (senior) game in Australia,” Garcia said on Friday. “It would probably have been in Perth when I was 15 just before I left and that was playing State League in Perth. (Playing against Uzbekistan) would be fantastic, considering I haven’t played a senior game in front of family and friends, that’s the biggest thing.”

Garcia is rare among the modern breed of Australian football exports, having played in all four professional divisions of English football. “It’s been a long hard journey, but at least it’s got it’s rewards at the minute,” said Garcia, who made his Socceroos debut against South Africa last August and now has three caps to his name. However, he readily admits he doubted he would ever get the chance to play for the Socceroos when he was battling in the lower tiers of English football. “There have been stints of my career when I thought it was never going to happen,” added the 27-year old. “I’ve worked really hard to get back to where I want to be. It was always my aim to play for Australia and to play in the Premier League.”



Newly promoted Canning City started their season convincingly with a 3-1 Cup defeat of Mandurah City at Willetton Sports Club. Paul Oliver scored once in each half - his second a rocket-like free-kick which is an early contender for goal of the season - before Charlie Partridge secured Canning’s place in the last sixteen. The early signs were ominous for Canning who were pegged back in their defensive half by a Mandurah line-up eager for the opening goal. However, the hosts gradually worked their way into the match and on 14 minutes took the lead through Oliver, who converted a penalty awarded after Scottish import Michael Roger was brought down by goalkeeper Phil Straker. Although possession was evenly distributed between the sides, Canning were making better use of the ball and Roger came close to adding their second when he headed just high of the crossbar from a Kyle Mitsopoulos corner. Jay Bonser went close to equalising on 37 minutes with a header resulting from Michael Currie’s corner to the near post. The Dolphin’s best chance arrived shortly before the break Steve Payne’s goal bound effort was cleared from on the line. The final action of the period saw Straker instinctively keep out Simon Versaico’s shot at his near post.

The highlight of the afternoon arrived two minutes after the re-start when Oliver’s scorching free-kick from 30-metres slammed into the top right corner of Straker’s net. The game was effectively ended seven minutes later when Luke Doyle’s long throw was headed on by Duanne Hepburn for Partridge to volley past Straker at short-range. Canning could have had a fourth midway through the half when Hepburn outpaced the Dolphins defence only to be thwarted by Straker, who came quickly off his goal line to block the shot. Phil O’Callaghan was having a quiet day in attack but on 64 minutes he wasted a chance to breathe new life into the game by heading agonisingly wide from a Chris Wylie cross. It was at this point that Canning switched their tactical effort to defence, stifling the Dolphins attempts to get back in the game. Mandurah did get a consolation goal through Ryan Townsend with five minutes remaining, the captain powering in a header at the back post. Full credit must go to Canning who continually had several attacking options on the boil and always looked the more likely to score, whereas Mandurah appeared bereft of ideas as to how to break down a very resolute and organised defensive line.



A stunning five-goal haul from versatile Englishman Anthony Campbell helped Western Knights begin their Cup defence with a 10-0 thrashing of Rockingham City on a sunny afternoon Nash Field. Rockingham took the game right up to their hosts during the opening quarter hour and were almost rewarded when Michael Vaz flashed left-foot shot just wide. But this proved to be the only highlight of the day for Rockingham with the Knights soon taking control with a muscular performance. In the 27th minute Barry Devlin threaded the ball through to David Micevski but his low strike from 14-metres was pushed away by Rockingham custodian Tim Smith. Rockingham was under immense pressure at the back as the Knights piled on the pressure with some well-crafted attacks. The first of Campbell’s goal arrived in the 35th minute when he forced his way past three opponents to fire past Smith. Three minutes later, Campbell added his second by slamming the ball in at close-range after an initial David Micevski free-kick was parried by Smith. The Knights were flying and Campbell soon completed his hat-trick by heading in a cross from the right by Daniel Micevski. Half-time was near when another dangerous ball in by Daniel Micevski was turned into the Rockingham net by a defender to make it four-nil at the break.

The onslaught continued after the break with the Knights clearly determined to put away a few more. Just before the hour Anthony Campbell beat the offside trap to latch on to a David Micevski pass and beat Smith for the fourth time. The floodgates had been opened and two minutes later Barry Devlin opportunistically headed past the Rockingham goalkeeper to get in on the act. A little of the shine was taken off a dominant home performance by the 70th minute dismissal of Luka Jukic following an off the ball incident with Rockingham midfielder Luka Ivancic. There will still time for further goals, Devlin getting his second after 75 minutes with a fine header from a text book corner from Daniel Micevski. David Micevski was having sparkling in the centre of the park match and with ten minutes to go charged through the visiting defence, rounded the ‘keeper and calmly slotted in the sides deserved eighth goal. Young striker Mario Marcinko was next to get on the scoresheet when he stooped to head in another Daniel Micevski cross after 84 minutes. The game was in stoppage time when Devlin secured himself a hat-trick and end a memorable day out for the Knights.



David Foster sent Floreat Athena into the next round of the Cup by scoring twice in their 4-1 come from behind win over Swan IC at Litis Stadium. A stunning goal soon after the interval by David Paone put the visitors the box seat, but Branimir Mikulic soon equalised before an own goal and Foster’s double gave Floreat victory. “All credit to Paul Lincoln and Swan, in the first half they came out and stifled us big time. We couldn’t find a way through, and they had a couple of good chances too and we were a little fortunate they didn’t convert them, but thankfully it all changed after half time,” Floreat boss Michael Roki said. “Swan scoring so early in the half gave us plenty of time to get an equaliser, and the pace of the game gave us the perfect opportunity to utilise Miki Vujacic in the centre of the park and push Daniel Neiderberger forward. The pressure was mounting and it was just a matter of time before we broke through, the equaliser knocked the wind completely out of Swan and the result was a foregone conclusion when Bran gave us the lead minutes later.”

There wasn’t a great deal to keep the small crowd entertained during the early exchanges as the sides prodded forward cautiously. The first shot on goal didn’t eventuate until the 13th minute when Stephen Guest’s cross was cleared behind, and from the resulting corner Damian Scali blasted past Vas Vujacic only to have Ante Kovacevic cleared from on the line. The veteran defender had Floreat’s first opportunity but his long-range free-kick was straight at goalkeeper Chris Ramsey. Chances started to arrive as the game opened up, Vas Vujacic was scrambling to reach Scali’s speculative shot from 20-metres which ended up drifted wide on 32 minutes. Branimir Mikulic expertly turned Aaron Cole to unleash a fierce shot that crashed off the crossbar and was cleared by Dom Ando. A stinging first time shot by Scali was well held by Vas Vujacic, then David Foster tested the reflexes of Ramsey in a goal mouth scramble. Floreat ended the half stronger as Foster played a neat one-two with Kovacevic who was denied a shot by Robert Monterosso’s superbly timed tackle.

Swan made a perfect start to the second half, a long throw by Monterosso was cleared as far as Paone who tamed the ball before drilling into the top corner from 22-metres to put the visitors ahead. Floreat were making few inroads against a stubborn defence but drew level on 58th minutes when Ramsey was blinded by the sun as he attempted to take Jarred Smith’s cross, the ball bouncing invitingly for Mikulic to nod in at close-range. It was just what Floreat needed and the hosts now began to dominate. A Miki Vujacic free-kick from distance was saved low by Ramsey, then John Migas’ shot from the edge of the 18-yard box was deflected wide by Cole. Scali wasted a golden opportunity for Swan to regain the lead but lobbing well wide with goalkeeper Vas Vujacic stranded on near the top of his box. Miki Vujacic’s cross narrowly evaded Brad Scott before some desperate defending blocked efforts by Jason Barerra, Foster and Mikulic. The pressure value was eventually relieved on 82 minutes, Miki Vujacic’s curling free-kick from the right being headed into the net by Swan midfielder Costas Socratous. Foster increased the gap within a couple of minutes by fending off Jake Da Re and finished clinically past Ramsey. The icing was put on the cake in stoppage time when Foster fired low into the net from 7-metres courtesy of a Miki Vujacic cross.



An unimpressive Inglewood United squeezed through to the next stage of the Soccer Pools Cup with a 2-1 defeat of a spirited University of WA at the Kiev Sports Ground (Clipsal Stadium). While both teams were cheered on by a supportive crowd, the game itself was littered with errors and lacked much in the way of genuine highlights. Alex Cocking’s deciding strike in the second period of extra-time may have brought a smile to the face of Lee Bamber but the Inglewood coach was far from pleased with his side’s performance. “We didn’t play well at all today in any aspect of the game,” he said. “We need to raise our intensity and tempo before our next match and there most certainly will be changes to the team.”

University came out of the blocks determined to take the game up to their more fancy opponents and enjoyed the better of the early possession. Diego Garcia speared a long pass out of midfield for James Quinn whose angled shot forced Oliver Taseski to tip over the crossbar. This stung Inglewood into action and Louis Parkinson was thwarted by a smothering save from Tristan Scott, while Jamie Mitsopolous’ driven free-kick flash just wide of the post. The hosts deservedly went ahead on 23 minutes when Mitsopolous’ curling free-kick to the far post was headed in by an unmarked Louis Parkinson. University hit back inside a minute, Gareth Briggs blocked Danny Kovacevic’s attempt to clear and quickly threaded a short pass to Diego Garcia who calmly slotted into the bottom corner past an outstretched ‘keeper.

The second half had a familiar ring to it was University started strongly and Taseski was called upon to save from Quinn after latching onto a long ball out of midfield. But chances soon began to dry up as a result of a warm afternoon and early season rustiness on behalf of both teams. Inglewood’ only notable opening of the period came via substitute James Duncan tried who luck from distance but was denied by the diving ‘keeper. The turning point came early in the second period of extra-time when Manolis Arapis succumbed to injury, leaving University to see out the game with ten men. Inglewood soon captalised, Kevin Griffiths and Rory Grant combining well to set up Cocking who rolled the ball into the net with only seven minutes left on the clock.



David Murphy scored twice and James Bergin once when South West Phoenix saw off a spirited Olympic Kingsway 3-2 in a spiteful encounter at Westrac Stadium in Bunbury. The late dismissal of Andy Cowley ensured a tense finish soon after Derek Cooke’s second of the afternoon brought the visiting team to within touching distance of an upset. It took Phoenix just 3 minutes to open their account, Patrick Quinn delivering a fineback post cross which Murphy headed powerfully past goalkeeper Daniel Armitage from 7-metres. A good move soon after almost provided a second for the hosts as James Bergin set the ball up for Steve Suttie whose drive from the edge of the 18-yard box was parried away by the ‘keeper. Although slow to get into gear, Kingsway worked their way back into the game and if not for poor finishing could have been back on level terms. So it was against the run of play when, shortly before the break, Bergin’s effort from 15-metres struck Aaron Lickiss to wrong-footed his ‘keeper as the ball trickled over the line. It was a cruel blow for Kingsway who had looked the better side across the latter stages of the half.

Kingsway were firing on all cylinders as the second half get under way and just after the hour Jamie Kuzmanovic’s through ball was brilliantly finished by Derek Cooke, who rifled into the net from the top corner of the area. Tempers began to fray as the tempo went up a notch and the teams become increasingly determined this was to be their day. The game looked to be over when Phoenix increased their in the 80th minute, Suttie’s centring pass in behind the defence being converted at close-range by David Murphy. Kingsway could have given uop at this stage but refused to do so by continually piling on the pressure. The visitor’s reward came soon when Kuzmanovic combined terrifically with Stephen Beesley before Cooke slotted in his second of the afternoon. Within minutes Cowley was sent from the field for retaliating to a challenge by Cooke, leaving Phoenix to hang on grimly with ten men for the remaining time. With the last roll of the dice Beesley floated a free-kick into the area where an unmarked Steve Dimitrovich fired into the side netting, ending Kingsway’s Cup dream at the first hurdle.



Dianella White Eagles have been made an early exit from the 2009 Cup after succumbing 3-0 to Shamrock Rovers at Dianella Reserve. Three goals in quick succession early in the second half sent Shamrock through as one of only two amateur teams in the next round. “The lads played very well today and did every thing they where asked to do. It’s always good to have a good hit out in pre-season and to get a good win. Don’t get me wrong, it would be good to do well in this Cup but our intention is on wining the amateur League and Cup,” said Shamrock coach Glynn Shaw, who was in charge at Dianella last season. “I really enjoyed playing against my old club and to see what or if there where any improvements with the new coach and any players they’ve brought in, but I do think they have a long way to go to be competitive in their league.”

Possession was evenly shared throughout a first half in which both sides created a smattering of chances but lacked the decisive finishing that would have given them the lead. The breakthrough came six minutes after half-time when Graham Byrne got behind the defence only to be felled by Ozren Kotur, the referee pointed straight to the spot and Wayne Brooks did the rest by sending goalkeeper Matt Battigelli the wrong way. A fine counter attack saw Shamrock increase their lead four minutes later, Barry Mulligan sweeping past his marker to drive out of the middle of the park and fire beyond the despairing reach of Battigelli. Victory was assured when Shane Keegan McCarthy swung in a corner from the left to which Brooks rose highest to head strongly into the net with 65 minutes played. Although the game was theirs, Shamrock continued to press for further goals only to be held at bay by some stubborn home defending.



Sorrento were a class above Murdoch University, who went down 5-1 in this afternoon’s Cup meeting on a warm but windy afternoon at Percy Doyle Reserve. Ian Porter had done his homework well with Murdoch pushing immediately from the get go, Jamie Nugent stretching goalkeeper Michael Lawson after 3 minutes. Danny Cain created the hosts first opening with a terrific long ball into the path of Stuart Montgomery who got the better of his marker but lobbed wide of Andrew Barrett’s post. The battle for ascendancy swung in Sorrento’s favour after 26 minutes when Montgomery converted a penalty awarded for a trip on Todd Harnwell. It looked as though the sides would go into the break on level terms after Jacob King’s curling shot ricocheted in off the far post. But soon after Glen Thomas’ chip over Barrett struck the post and went off to put the Gulls back in charge.

The second half had been under way three minutes when Cain dashed down the left to deliver a far post cross to Harnwell, who executed a superb volley that flashed across the ‘keeper and came to rest in the bottom corner. Barrett stood alone on 66 minutes when he denied Montgomery and recovered in time to block Harnwell’s follow-up, but it was third time lucky for the Gulls with Thomas pushing the loose ball over the line to make it four-one. Steve McDonald, who had replaced an injured Stuart Banks midway through the first half, added the hosts fifth soon after by rising highest to meet a Thomas corner which he headed powerfully amid a sea of players. Anthony Walsh went close to reducing the deficit with eleven minutes to go but ‘keeper Lawson captured his shot at the second attempt.



ECU Joondalup made it clear they are set for a big year by inflicting a 2-0 loss on Cockburn City in this afternoon’s Soccer Pools Cup clash in the northern suburbs. A superb early corner by John Higgins sent the hosts down the path to victory with Tommy Amphlett adding a second midway through the second period to secure their place in the last sixteen. “The lads kept to the game plan and were prepared to work for each other, their attitude was absolutely excellent. It was a good team performance,” said Joondalup coach Syd Amphlett, who was particularly delighted with the performances of three players. “Martyn Ashworth who was superb at centre back, Ryan Williams is an exciting youngster and looked dangerous every time he had the ball and Garin Collins had a great game in centre midfield having only signed for us the day before.”

Cockburn went on the attack from the outset, forcing a couple of early corners at which the home team allowed their visitors little room to manoeuvre - a theme oft repeated throughout the afternoon. Joondalup then pushed forward to win themselves a corner which Higgins swung to the far post, the ball somehow evading a number of players in both colours to squeeze in at the bottom corner. From that point on the game belonged to the hosts, who always posed the greater danger when pushing into the final third. Ian But the closest they came to grabbing a second goal was when captain Ian McMurray’s header thundered into the upright and rebounded clear. Cockburn did manage to call Davvyd Jones into action on a few occasions but the truth is the Joondalup custodian was rarely troubled by their long-range shots. The result was finally put beyond doubt in the 62nd minute when Amphlett broke clear of his marker to slot past Dejan Aleksic.



West Australian youngster Rhys Williams still dreams of playing for Australia - but his chance will be gone if he makes his international debut for Wales this weekend. Williams, 20, left Perth four years ago to become a trainee with Middlesbrough and has been making a name for himself of late playing on loan to Burnley. But the right-back has failed to attract any interest from the Socceroos and faces a difficult dilemma over whether to pursue an international career with Wales, for whom he has made eight appearances at under-21 level. The issue could come to a head very quickly with Williams having been called into John Toshack’s senior squad for the today’s World Cup qualifiers against Finland, and the match four days later against Germany.

Williams is eligible to represent four nations - England and India through his parents and Wales through a grandparent. But the lure of representing his homeland remains strong and his advisers are planning talks with Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek. “I’m going to speak to Pim after this weekend and ask him if there’s an interest,” Williams’ agent Gary Williams. “Rhys sees his future with Wales because he’s had no contact with anybody else. But he was born in Australia and sees himself as Australian still. If there was a serious interest from Australia then we’d seriously look at it. There will be an interest from him.”



The glitz and glamour of knock-out football takes centre stage this weekend with the opening round of the 2009 Soccer Pools Cup. One of the highlights of round one takes place at Burrendah Reserve where Canning City take on Mandurah City. “Everyone at the club is looking forward to the game against Mandurah as they are notoriously tight affairs,” said Canning boss Frank Longstaff, who’ll unfortunately be without player of the year Rory Mouttet. Mandurah captain Andy Brown is another that will miss the game but Mandurah coach Stuart Currie remains confident all the same.

Two giants of West Australian football, Perth SC and Fremantle United, lock horns in the blockbuster at Hilton Park. “We are approaching this as though it’s a final - we can’t afford to do it any other way or we'll get our backsides kicked,” said Perth coach Graham Normanton. “Fremantle are a team to be respected, we do not intend to take them lightly.” With eight amateur League championships and five Cups to their name Fremantle clearly have the runs on the board and the contributions of Felim Rugel, captain Matt Favazzo and Daniel Palermo are crucial to their chances of causing an upset.

There is another all Premier League affair at Litis Stadium where Floreat Athena welcome Swan United. Although the hosts are expected to triumph, coach Michael Roki is leaving nothing to chance. “You can never take anything for granted against Swan, we expect them to be pumped and revitalised after the two weeks they’ve had to prepare for this match,” said Roki, who has Ante Kovacevic and James Sammut champing at the bit. The news is not so rosy for Swan with Matthew Xerri, John Mansaray (both suspended) and Paul Baczynski (injured) unavailable for selection.

Dianella White Eagles should have what it takes to get past amateur side Shamrock Rovers when they meet at Dianella Reserve. Key roles away Dianella’s inspirational captain Dragan Njegic and young goalkeeper Matt Battigelli on a day they’ll be without striker Stefan Smiljanic (suspended) and Adam Galvin (injury). Shamrock coach Glynn Shaw no doubt wants to get one over his former club and will hoping for strong performances on the day from the likes of Gavin Oakes, who was also at Dianella in 2008.

ECU Joondalup will be hoping to put to bed another week of upheaval as Cockburn City journey to the northern suburbs. Cup holders Western Knights are expected to have their hands full when Rockingham City visits Nash Field. Its going to be a difficult afternoon for amateur side Murdoch University, who are away to State League champions Sorrento. Inglewood United are tipped to win at home against University of WA, while Arena Joondalup United will fancy their chances when Fremantle Spirit visit Kingfisher Reserve.

Kingsway Olympic make the long trip to Bunbury where they meet South West Phoenix at Westrac Stadium. Frank Drago Reserves is the venue for the traditional derby between Bayswater City and Balcatta. Gosnells City journey to Hartfield Park where they meet Forrestfield United, and there’s also a short road trip for Morley Windmills who are favoured to overcome host club Ashfield. The passing of long-time Queens Park president David Woodfin casts a long shadow over their away game with Spearwood Dalmatinac.

Sunday’s game between Stirling Lions and Wanneroo City at Macedonia Park can be heard live on 107FM from 3.00pm. “This will be a good test against Wanneroo as they are a young bustling side that have nothing to lose,” said Stirling boss Mick Lyons, who welcomes back to the line-up Marc Anthony, Ludovic Boi, Steven Hesketh and Dean Evans from Perth Glory duty. “All our lads and supporters will be looking for the team to get our 2009 campaign off to a flying start.”

The round comes to a close with a much-changed Hamersley Rovers against Armadale at Percy Doyle Reserve. A rash of departures has Hamersley going into the new season with what is in essence an entirely new squad and it’s difficult to see them putting up much of a fight. By contrast Brad Hassell has greatly enhanced his options at Armadale where Australian youth international Liam Harvey and promising striker John Thornley bring a new edge to a line-up that includes star trio Cyril Sharrock, Gary Faria and Jason Goodwin.



It’s all systems go at Kingsway Olympic who commence the new season this with an opening round Soccer Pools Cup clash with South West Phoenix. The long trip to Bunbury doesn’t phase Steven Dimitrovich in the slightest - it’s quite the opposite in fact with the Kingsway coach eager to take on a Phoenix side amongst the favourites for this year’s First Division title. “We’re ready to tackle Phoenix on Saturday, all the boys have been looking forward to this game since the draw was made,” Dimitrovich said. “We’ll be approaching the game with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement knowing we have an opportunity to take on one of the best teams in this year’s First Division.”

For the purist nothing comes close to the thrill and excitement that is Cup football, and bringing Saturday and Sunday teams together in same competition adds further spice to the mix. “Having amateur teams play in the State League Cup is a great idea,” enthused Dimitrovich, who steered Kingsway to Cup glory over amateur fourth tier outfit Beldon last season. “It gives amateur clubs something else to look forward to and also adds to the excitement of the competition if an amateur team happens to upset their more fancied opposition.”

Where Phoenix has benefited from five competitive Night Series outings, Kingsway’s pre-season has consisted of a lot of hard work on the training track and only scattered friendlies. “We began training eight weeks ago and the boys have responded well to all the cycling, Sunday morning beach sessions, personal training sessions and running that I’ve been making them do,” said Dimitrovich. “I’ve been very happy with the way they’ve all approached the pre-season, they’ve brought a lot of enthusiasm and a positive attitude to having a great season in 2009.”

The Kingsway coach admits he’s in possession of very little information about this weekend’s opposition. “I don’t know much about them but looking at their results over the last couple of years Phoenix must be a good side as they finished runners-up last season and they are favourites to win the league this year,” Dimitrovich said. “The boys know they are going to have their work cut out for them, if they give 110% and put into the game what we practice at training then that’s all I can ask for, and with a little bit of luck you never know what might happen.”

The off-season departure of Kieth Roche, Alan Nanini, Lee McGuinness and Andre Sarpe has been offset by an active recruitment drive at Kingsway. “I’ve managed to bring a lot of players in with a lot of experience,” explained the coach. “Jamie Kuzmanovich has come down to the club along with Danny Dimitrovich, Danny Taylor, Jesse Higgins, David Ashworth, Ben Conneally, Joe Armitage, Luke Armstrong and Dani Lemos, who played in New South Wales for MacArthur Rams. There’s now a lot more depth to our defence and I’ve got a few different options in midfield as well as attack.”

Kingsway were a constant in Saturday football for over four decades before changing status to amateurs at the end of 2005. Dimitrovich is confident the squad he has assembled can recapture their glory days by not only climbing the rungs but also of challenging for top honours this coming winter. “I think we can improve on last seasons fifth placing, and with a bit of luck to defend the Cup we won last season,” said the coach. “And if the boys work hard and have the right attitude in every game we play then I’m confident we can be pushing for promotion at the end of 2009.”



Celebrations are just beginning to wind down following Rockingham City’s successful Night Series campaign that returned silverware to the club for the first time in over three decades. The penalty shoot-out defeat of Wanneroo City in Saturday’s First Division final ends what has been a very trying few years for the club. “I think the importance of the game was summed up by the reaction of the crowd,” said Rockingham president Barry Wilders. “The last two seasons have been a difficult time for the club both on and off the park so winning the Night Series was something everyone involved needed and deserved.”

Although Rockingham rode their luck at times against Wanneroo, a tremendous team spirit saw them come from behind to snatch a historic win. “Although possibly not our best performance, it showed that this squad has heart and determination - in the last fifteen minutes there was a terrific never say die attitude,” said Wilders. “We’ve got a dedicated team of coaches and there’s a strong bond between the players, many of whom have grown up together. It’s a very young squad who have already shown a great deal of maturity and the club is very excited about what the next three or fours seasons will bring.”

A big part of Rockingham’s Night Series success is attributable to the new-look defensive partnership of Darren Lawler and Peter Kuzet. “Darren Lawler is an exceptional footballer, he played at Perth last season but has played alongside many of the current crop of Rockingham players so slotting in hasn’t been an issue,” commented Wilders. “Peter returns to the club after several season with Cockburn, and he brings the experience the coaching staff have been looking for over the last twelve months or so. Having a cool experienced head at the back has seen our defence tighten up significantly.”

Wilders also tipped his hat to senior coach Paul O’Brien, who was responsible for bringing together the Night Series winning squad. “Paul has been paramount to the teams success this season,” Wilders explained. “He was appointed back in mid-2007 and was basically set the difficult task of rebuilding a team. He’s a youth orientated coach and therefore gives as many young players the chance to show their worth - something we are now reaping the benefits of. The players themselves have a deep respect for their coach and that’s something every football team requires.”

Rockingham attention is now focused on this weekend’s Cup meeting with Premier League outfit Western Knights. “We played a pre-season match last season against the Knights and were basically given a footballing lesson. This time around we have been fortunate enough to watch them against Floreat in the Night Series and have a better prepared and more confident squad,” Wilders commented. “We raised a lot of eye-brows during the final rounds of last season and again during this years pre-season and have no intention of stopping, whether it be in the League or the Cup.”



Veteran Dom Ando is banking on a Cup win this weekend to kick-start his club's season. Swan IC did it tough in pre-season, failing to win in five Night Series outings as coach Paul Lincoln experimented with players and various formations. But as the season proper draws nearer and the intensity in training steps up, Ando is predicting a strong year for his club. "With all players fit and available, we have the capability of being in the top half of the league," he stated.

The pre-season was used by Swan as a way of trying out various options in a competitive game setting. "I don't think you should read too much in our Night Series," said Ando, on the eve of his fourth season at Swan. "The results didn't go our way but Lincs tried different things in each game and rotated a few players around, trying out the younger players. Overall, we had a tough group and there were some positives which came out of it for us."

Swan have several new faces on board for 2009, amongst them former Green Gully (Victoria) striker Matthew Xerri, Stephen Guest, Ben Lees, Costa Socratous and goalkeeper Chris Ramsey. Ando has been pleased with his how new team mates have settled in at the club. "We're a friendly bunch at Swan and welcome any player who wishes to play for the club," he said. "Each of the new players has their own strengths and weakness', it's now a case of finding the right balance for the team."

But that task was made all the more difficult with David McNally and Alex Cocking leaving in search of greener pastures hot on the heels of Justin Hugo's retirement. "They are all big losses but we've got players who can step up and do the job," said Ando. "We've got some good depth this year and the Night Series game with Perth, which we lost 1-0, is a good example of that. We had quite a young side out that night and were a bit unlucky not to win the game."

Overall, Ando is encouraged by the quality of the new season Swan squad which he feels is capable of propelling the club into the top half of the table. "We haven't really discussed team goals yet but improving on last season would be a good start," said the nuggetty defensive midfielder. "It'll be a tough season for ever club, there's not a lot between teams and it's going to be close ... and hopefully we are one of those who are in the mix at the end of the year."

Swan's next assignment is on Saturday when they visit Floreat Athena in the opening round of the 2009 Soccer Pools Cup. "It's going to be a tough game for both teams and, as any other game, we'll all be focused on doing our job on the day," said Ando. "It's always good to have as many fans as possible supporting the team and hopefully we can send them home happy this weekend by knocking out one of the Cup favourites."



Wanneroo City coach Gerry McEwan is looking forward to this weekend Cup tie with Stirling Lions. McEwan’s team were denied the First Division Night Series last Saturday by the lottery of penalties, but that result is now history for the knowledgable coach who is eager to find out just how good his young team are. “Stirling have all their Perth Glory players back and their lovely new pitch is ready for them to display their talents on, I think it’s bound to be a huge test for my young side and one we are all looking forward too,” McEwan said.

While disappointed by the outcome of last week’s game, McEwan saw some positives in his team’s performance. “I thought our young goalkeeper Daniel Holgate had won the game for us with a tremendous double save in the first five minutes of the game. I turned to my assistant Nick Edwards and told him that I felt that could settle us down and it proved to be the case,” he said. “I felt we were the better side for the remainder of the game and we know we should have taken the cup home. Our finishing let us down, some very poor officiating didn’t help and we all know when it gets to a penalty shoot out, then some you win, some you lose.”

One of the chief reasons Wanneroo made it all the way through to the Night Series final was Jay McDonald, who contributions in the middle of the park brought him to the attention of several rival clubs. “He was outstanding in the Night Series,” commented McEwan. “Jay is only 23 but has taken on the captaincy of a very young squad. He’s already turned down a move to the Premier League as he’s enjoying playing the best football of his young life with Wanneroo City.”

Amongst others to impress McEwan in the tournament were Chris Pugh and goalkeeper Daniel Holgate. “Chris has emerged from being a steady reserve player to being a stand-out in the first team mainly thanks to how hard he’s worked pre-season,” explained McEwan. “Daniel celebrated his 18th birthday last week and he certainly deserved to be a winner in the final, he saved two penalties in both the semi and the final as well as making some fantastic stops in both games.”

Fingers are crossed at Wanneroo that Sunday’s game bears no resemblance to the club’s last Cup appearance. “Last year we faced champions Sorrento and we made them work hard for their win,” he said of the 2008 round two fixture that Sorrento eventually won 3-0. “We felt like Wigan playing at Anfield. It seemed every decision went against us that day - three penalties and our goalkeeper sent off. We can only hope for a strong referee (this weekend) who doesn’t think the big occasion is all about him, and gives us a fair crack.”



Marc Wingell has moved on from the disappointments of last year by assembling a young and enthusiastic Fremantle Spirit squad for the new season. The port side performed well in pre-season despite battling a variety of players absences - something the coach is hoping will change once the season proper get under way. “It’s been a very unsettled pre-season, with lots of injuries,” he said. “I’ve been unable to really put out a strong team with all the players I would normally consider, but what we do have is an abundance of young players that will gain an immense amount of experience throughout the year.”

Wingell knows he’s got a big challenge ahead of him after Fremantle’s stocks were left depleted following last season’s relegation from the Premier League. “When you lose the majority of you squad it’s hard,” he said. “We lost Simon Elton-Bott, Jason Barrera Callum Roberts, Lou Bake, Ben Kelly, Cisco Jorquiera, Michael Draper and Dave Rodgers - seven of them were my starting eleven last season. Theses are all big losses to the club, a lot of them have been in and around the first team since they were 16 or 17 years of age.”

Fremantle have always had a strong youth development focus only to lose players to bigger clubs. “Jason and Callum are prime examples - they are potentially good State League players and Floreat have inherited two first team players without spending any time or money on these young men,” Wingell said. “That is why we need to revert back to a simplified transfer system that is equal and adequate for both player and clubs, otherwise we’ll continue to be a club that gives young players an opportunity but gets nothing in return.”

Wingell, a former Perth Glory player, is looking forward to Saturday’s Cup outing against amateur side Arena Joondalup United at Kingfisher Reserve. “We’ll be putting out as strong a team that is available, the Cup isn’t part of the big picture but it is always nice to win all games in a season,” said Wingell, whose team prepared by playing the current Premier League champions last weekend. “Playing Sorrento has put us in good stead for Saturday’s game. It was a good work-out for us against quality opposition, and the club were definitely encouraged by our performance at all three levels.”



Perth Glory has pulled off a pre-season coup with the club set to play an international friendly against four times FA Cup winners Wolverhampton Wanderers. An in principle agreement between the two clubs has been agreed to the pre-season game in July at Members Equity Stadium, with final arrangements and contracts to be confirmed in coming days. “This is a watershed moment in Perth Glory’s Hyundai A-League history,” Glory deputy chairman Lui Giuliani. “Glory is committed to winning on and off the field and this is one of many successful opportunities that we’re set to announce in the coming months. Our ability to bring Wolves to Perth is a true indication of Tony Sage’s commitment to Perth Glory and the West Australian community. He has underwritten the tour to ensure that Glory receives a significant kick start into a new and exciting era.”

Wolves currently sit on top of the English Championship and are odds on favourite to return to the Premier League next season after a six-year absence. The club has a long and successful history that dates back more than 120 years and includes three First Division Championships, four FA Cups, two League Cups and runner-up in the UEFA Cup. It will be the first time in a over a decade that a top flight European club has played in Perth, the last being Italian side Sampdoria who defeated a then fledgling Glory 3-0 at the WACA Ground in May 1996.

It is expected Wolves wil spent up to two weeks Perth as part of a pre-season program which will feature two matches, one against Glory and another against an opponent yet to be confirmed. “Not only will we test ourselves against a club playing at the highest levels in Europe, we’ll also get a great opportunity to observe their professional training standards,” said Giuliani. “We’re excited about the great tourism benefits this will deliver to Western Australia and there will no doubt be many clubs around the world that will now consider Perth as top class football training destination.”



Confidence is not something Shamrock Rovers are lacking heading into their opening round Cup fixture with Dianella White Eagles. Newly appointed coach Glynn Shaw could not have asked more from his players, whose hard work on the training tack has them in peak condition for Saturday’s game. “We’ve had a real good pre-season, the lads have worked very hard and we have great numbers at training,” said the Shamrock boss. “We started a bit later than everyone else which I think has worked in are favour as the lads are now starting to come to there peak fitness at the correct time.”

Shamrock completed their pre-season schedule with a 2-1 defeat of University of WA. “UWA play a very physical up-beat game which was different to the other teams we had played during the pre season,” explained Shaw. “We started off very well and scored in the first ten minutes, but as the game went on they came back into the match and got themselves a penalty, which they scored. In the last twenty minutes we made some changes which helped us get back on top and led to us scoring the winner late … the win gives us a great deal of confidence heading into the Cup game.”

Saturday’s game takes Shaw back to Dianella Reserve and the club he coached last season. “We are all looking forward to the game on the weekend against Dianella. For me playing against my old club will be very interesting and for the players to play against players who are meant to be at the next level will be a great test for them,” the coach commented. “Also, Dianella have very loyal and vocal fans and they really get behind their team - we are going to have to be at our best to beat them, which I think we will.”



Teenager Dannie Richman has cast aside the frustration of an injury interrupted season as he embarks on a new phase in his career at Inglewood United. A knee injury suffered in trials for the Australian Institute of Sport forced the 18-year attacker to watch the majority of last season from the sidelines. “I didn’t think the injury was that bad and kept playing but then my knee started to lock,” he explained. “I found out later that I had torn my cartilage behind my knee cap and that it would require surgery. I was gutted, it came at the wrong time and place and kept me out for close to nine months. But it’s been feeling really good lately and hopefully that’s all behind me now.”

Having played his way up through the ranks at Stirling Lions, Richman felt it was time for a change of scene so transferred to Inglewood during the summer. “I’ve settled in really well, and I’m enjoying training, and the guys have been really welcoming, and they are a good bunch of lads down here. I’m really looking forward to the season,” he said. “I needed a fresh start and so decided to join Inglewood, Bobby Despotovski approached me last season but it wasn’t the right move at that time. Hopefully when we play Stirling I’ll be able to have a chat with the boys and Mickey (Lyons), I wish them all the best for the year ahead.”

Lee Bamber has assembled a strong young squad for the coming season, which Richman can not wait to get started. “The team is really starting to come together, most of the team played together last year and all the young players will have learnt from last year and can only be better for those experiences,” he said. “I think Inglewood they have the same ideas as Stirling - that age doesn’t really matter. If you’re good enough then you will get your chance and I think that really gives the young players a lift and something to aim for. But the older more experienced players are the ones that really hold the team together and are doing a great job bringing us younger players through.”

Like any aspiring youngster, Richman wants to play at the highest level possible but knows he must first establish himself at Inglewood in season 2009. “I’m going to see where football takes me and I’m really only concentrating on the season ahead at Inglewood,” he commented. “Obviously, everyone would love to turn professional but I’m just really starting to enjoy playing again so I’m looking forward to every game I play. Maybe sometime in the future something might happen but for now I’ve just got to put my head down and put in the hard yards.” Inglewood are home to amateur outfit University of WA in Saturday’s opening round of the Soccer Pools Cup.



Adelaide United have set their sights on signing Hull City striker Richard Garcia. The Reds are on the lookout for a big-name player to replace retired striker Paul Agostino and recently sent assistant coach Phil Stubbins, himself a former Hull player, on a two-week scouting assignment in the United Kingdom that included meetings with Tigers boss Phil Brown. Stubbins is an admirer of Garcia and believes the Perth-born Socceroo would be a great addition to Adelaide's squad. “Richard Garcia is someone who did a great job for himself in becoming a Premier League player and has done a decent job this season,” he told ‘the Advertiser’ newspaper. “If he decides to come back to Australia it would be good to be able to use our association to get him to Adelaide. All these things are possible, it is just about timing.”



Swan United’s Trent Wood will be jetting to Melbourne next month after taking out the Perth leg of the Fox8 reality television show ‘Football Superstar’. Ten players were selected from trials at Litis Stadium on Sunday to slug it out with players from across the nation for a spot on the show. “At the start of the day I was feeling a bit nervous, especially going into the first module, but after I did it and set the record for the day I felt a lot calmer,” said 19-year old Wood. “The cameras didn’t really help the situation, especially when you’re trying to concentrate, but that just made for an extra challenge for the day.”

This years series of ‘Football Superstar’ offers a professional contract with A-League club Melbourne Victory as the main prize. Unphased at being the top ranked player from Perth, Wood says he’ll be doing all he can to be one of fifteen players selected for the show. “Being the number one in WA doesn’t make me feel any different from anyone else,” commented Wood, who plays his club football in midfield. “At the end of the day I have to put my mind to it and do the best I can. I hope I can prove myself to Ernie Merrick by showing him how fit I am and how skilful I am on the football pitch.”

Perth SC player Adam Hett won the first series of ‘Football Superstar’, which came with a contract at Sydney FC, and a chance meeting with the midfielder did a lot to settle Wood’s nerves. “It was good to catch up with Adam on Sunday, in fact I’ve been seeing him on a regular basis throughout the year as we went to the same high school and played juniors together,” he said. “He gave me some advice and a few pointers on the different modules, it made me feel a little bit more confident.”

With a solid pre-season under his belt, Wood is now looking forward to whatever challenges the coming winter holds for Swan. “We haven’t got off to the best start this season, but we are starting to gel as a team,” said. “Unfortunately we weren’t able to keep the same eleven each week in the Night Series due to injuries and work commitments but I think with all the players back we will prove ourselves in the League. Paul Lincoln has done well so far this year, and will continue to do so when the League starts.”

Floreat Athena pose the next threat to Swan in this weekend’s opening round of the Soccer Pools Cup. “It’s a huge game this week against Floreat as they are a very strong side,” commented Wood, whose team makes the journey to Litis Stadium. “I think we can cause an upset if we can run out the full 90 minutes and play our full strength squad. We struggled at the back last weekend (in a friendly) against Wanneroo, but with Aaron Cole back things will be a lot more solid in the defence line.”



Exciting young midfielder James Sammut will wear Floreat Athena colours this year after agreeing terms with the club. The 20-year old was the star attraction at Inglewood United last year, wining the club’s Player of the Year and earning a one-year deal with Perth Glory Youth. “It was a tough decision (to leave Inglewood) but these things happen in football,’ he said. “I went down to Inglewood at the beginning of the season, intending to re-sign for them but it just didn’t work out. Saying that, I’m with Floreat now and am really enjoying it down there.”

Sammut was a little more than an interested observer at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday when Floreat succumbed 1-0 to Perth SC in the Night Series final. Although he’s been with Floreat only a few weeks, the midfield likes very much what he has seen. “The training at Floreat has been well organised and of a high intensity,” said Sammut. “Michael Roki has got all the lads working well together at the club and is well respected. He has a great understanding of the game and I’m sure I will keep improving my game at Floreat.”

Floreat have assembled an impressive squad for the coming season and coach Roki is delighted that Sammut is on board. “James is prepared to work hard and earn himself a spot in our line-up,” said Roki. “I think he definitely has the athletic qualities, the basic technical skills and the ‘football brain’ which may see him advance to a higher level at some stage in the future. For now he just wants to work hard and make his mark as a player at Floreat (and) I like the fact that he takes his football seriously.”

Sammut featuring regularly for Glory Youth during the summer, playing in 14 of their 18 games, and is hoping to impress sufficiently at Floreat to earn himself a new deal with the A-League club. “I hope to enjoy my football at Floreat and work hard to break into their strong starting line up and get as much game time as possible,” Sammut said. “I’ve heard nothing from the Glory as yet but I’ve been told we will start training again at the end of April and just have to wait and see.”



ECU Joondalup coach Syd Amphlett has made the difficult decision of cutting four players from his squad just a fortnight out from the start of a new Premier League season. Those told they were no longer required were are vice-captain Anthony Jones, his younger brother Tommy Jones, Matt Donlevy and Darren Broxton, who played youth team football at Southampton. “I’ve had to make some difficult decisions and I believe they are in the best interest of our club,” said Amphlett, who personally telephoned those released on Friday. “No player that is told he will not make the starting eleven will be happy … this has not gone down well with several players but we need to change if ECU is to change.”

These departures have been off-set by the recruitment of hard-working midfielder Steve Porter, who played the Night Series with Sorrento following his off-season move from Stirling Lions. “Steve’s signing is a great coup for our club,” said Amphlett, who is hoping to lure a few more players to Joondalup in coming weeks. “Steve is a great lad and brings a wealth of experience in the game here and back in the UK. He is a great team player and a player who will give us 100% every game and I hope it rubs off on the rest of the side.”

Joondalup’s off field plans include an upgrade of facilities at their Edith Cowan University home with Amphlett hoping to compliment that by getting things right on the field. “ECU needs to change and the club have given me the responsibility to do this,” said the coach, who has also signed National Training Centre quartet Alex Pearson, Jack Clisby, Josh Risdon and Lewis Hall. “I’ve brought a number of young lads into the first team squad and they are just not quite ready, but they are fantastic kids with great attitudes and will play a big part in our football club in future years.”



Promising youngster Adam Hett is determined the misfortune which temporarily halted his football ambitions will be the springboard to a bright future in the game. The young midfielder, who was a trainee at English club Coventry City, was enjoying the early weeks of life as a Sydney FC player when a serious knee wrecked his chances of making a lasting impression in the A-League last season. “Even though it’s a major setback, I’m working on other areas,” said Hett, who required surgery after rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament. “I’m squatting 110kg which is more than I’ve ever done in my life. One of my weaknesses was my pace, so I’m working on that with straight-line sprinting.”

Hett, 20, had just ten weeks to enjoy his new-found status as a national league footballer, an opportunity which came about when then Sydney coach John Kosmina selected him as the best player on the reality television show ‘Football Superstar’. “I’d been training for ten weeks and the morning I did my knee I was told I’d be on the bench for the round one match against Melbourne Victory,” Hett said. “It’s frustrating not being able to kick a ball but there are plenty of positive to take from it. I’ve got more determination now - I want it more. When I’m not playing, I miss it so much.”



One-time Australian Schoolboy international Robbie Gaspar has urged Australia’s coaches to take a close look at the Indonesian league if they’re serious about finding players capable of lighting up the A-League. Gaspar, 28, knows what he’s talking about having played in Indonesia since 2005, initially at Persita Tangerang and for the past four seasons with Persiba Balikpapan. “I watch the A-League on satellite TV over here and I have no doubt that a handful of Indonesian players would have a huge impact in Australia,” he said in an exclusive interview with “Honestly, five or six of the Indonesian players are just amazing footballers - they simply don’t know how good they are.”

When asked which players he felt would have the greatest impact in Australia Gaspar singled out three. “Boazt Salosa is an unpredictable attacking midfielder, is two footed, quickly and scores goals,” commented Gaspar, who starred on the local stage for Western Knights, Cockburn City and Perth SC. “Ismed Sosyan - a classic attacking right back, he has a great right foot which is useful from set pieces. He loves to get forward with surging runs but defends well also. T.A. Muasasry - a powerful all action striker. He never stops running and he would do great in the more physical A-League. He is two-footed and scores goals.”



Long-time president of Queens Park, David Woodfin, has sadly passed away. Woodfin worked tirelessly for local football, spending time on the board of the Soccer Federation of WA and Soccer West Coast in addition to four-plus decades of service to Queens Park. He was honoured in 1988 when the Sports Federation of WA named him their Sports Administrator of the Year, four years later he received the City of Canning’s Citizen of the Year, and in 2002 Woodfin was entered into the Football Hall of Fame Western Australia.



David Mitchell hasn’t given up hope of bringing in Mile Sterjovski as Perth Glory’s marquee player for next season. Sterjovski, currently plying his trade for English club Derby County, is at the top of Mitchell’s wish list as the coach prepares for a recruiting trip to England, Scotland and Holland next month. However, the only way the 29-year old Australian international will wear the Perth club’s purple short is if Derby agree to release him as Glory can not afford a transfer fee. Should that not pan out in Glory;’s favour, Mitchell has his eye on several foreigners who could become the marquee man, among them a former Dutch international.

Even so, Mitchell remains up-beat about luring Sterjovski to Perth. “I’ve got a good relationship with him and I did speak to him and we’ve had negotiations about the possibility, if Derby let him go, about coming here,” said Mitchell, who coached Sterjovski at Sydney United and Parramatta Power. “Going over there and talking to him will be ideal. I know the character of the player and he’s a very good player. It’d be nice to get a marquee player, but you’ve got to make sure you get the right marquee player.”

Former Sunderland defender Jody Craddock, currently with English Championship leader Wolverhampton Wolves, is another on Mitchell’s radar. The 33-year old has already rejected overtures from Glory, but Mitchell will try again to snare the veteran to strengthen a Glory defence that leaked a competition-high 44 goals last season. “He’s an experienced pro and a very good player,” Mitchell said of Craddock, who has been sidelined for several months with a broken foot is out of contract at the end of this English season. Glory has three international spots open, with Eugene Dadi and Victor Sikora the only two foreigners currently on their books.



A goal mid-way through the first half from defender Trent Kay has returned the Night Series trophy to Perth SC, who defeated Floreat Athena 1-0 in this evenings final at Dorrien Gardens. A crowd of over 2000 were on hand to see Kay convert a Matt Danskin corner to earn Perth their fourth consecutive pre-season title. Long-time Blues coach Graham Normanton, who watch from the stands while serving suspension, was thrilled with the manner in which his side retained the Night Series trophy. “It was a tight game, as all finals are. My boys battled well and we’re happy to win the game,” Normanton said. “Our back three were solid tonight, and I thought young Jason (Saldaris) in goal did well. We had a contingency plan if they threw three forward, which they did late and that worked well, so overall I’m delighted with the victory.”

Perth were quick out of the blocks and soon on the attack as Todd Howarth’s free-kick sent Marco Pelosi clear down the left but his angled strike was just wide of the mark. Pelosi was causing all sorts of problems for the Floreat defence and driving into the final third his through ball was just over hit with David Onoforo ready to pounce. Floreat settled and after some good lead up work from Jarred Smith, David Foster and Daniel Neiderberger the latter crossed for Branimir Mikulic who fired high from the edge of the 18-yard box. The game soon opened up with Greg Sharland rifling narrowly wide, then at the opposite end Foster nodded just past the post after Saldaris made a mess of an attempted clearance. Perth should have taken the lead on 25 minutes, Danskin breaking quickly to put the ball with Phil Arnold who blazed high from 7-metres when he really should have at minimum tested Simon Madaschi. But the hosts supporters need wait only another eight minutes, Danskin’s in-swinging ball in from the left was headed back across goal by Arnold and placed well to convert with a low blast was Kay.

It was end-to-end excitement at the start of the second half as Dean Apelgren blocked a goal bound effort by Arnold, and soon after Brad Scott chanced his luck from distance but put his side high of the bar. Some terrific work between the posts at both ends of the park prevented further addition to the score line, Saldaris reacting instinctively to keep out a Mikulic header and four minutes later it was Madaschi who turned away a header by Arnold. The creativity and drive of Howarth and Pelosi was by this stage giving Perth the upper hand in what had been a very tight contest. And the hosts should have doubled their lead in the 65th minute when Arnold released Onoforo who rounded Madaschi but took the ball too wide and could only fire high and wide from a tight angle. And a similar move just minutes later ended with Onoforo sending wide another golden opportunity from 10-metres after Arnold was again the provider.

Having ridden their luck for long enough, Floreat snapped back to life and on 73 minutes went agonisingly close to levelling through Scott whose snap shot from 7-metres was superbly saved by Saldaris at full stretch. The big crowd rose as one again to applaud Saldaris ten minutes later when acrobatically tipped Daniel Neiderberger’s lofted attempt on to the bar. The remaining minutes were one-way with Floreat giving their all to equalise, whereas Perth, lead by veteran defender Gianfranco Circati, were working overtime to preserve a slender lead. With five minutes to go Callum Roberts put the ball with John Migas, whose long-range shot flew over the bar. A quick Perth counterattack had Pelosi flash a shot just high as play temporarily returned to the other end. The game had entered stoppage when Roberts skipped past two opponents before Circati halted his run and continued Perth’s dominance of the pre-season tournament.

Perth SC: Jason Saldaris, Trent Kay, Gianfranco Circati, Craig Simpson, Todd Howarth, Matthew Danskin, (Dominic de Felice 52), Phil Arnold, David Onoforo, Greg Sharland, Michael Black, Marco Pelosi
Floreat Athena: Simon Madaschi, Simon Elton-Bott, Jarred Smith, Branimir Mikulic, John Migas, Paul Vatistas, David Foster (Callum Roberts 69), Jason Barrera, Daniel Neiderberger, Brad Scott, Dean Apelgren
Bookings: Barrera (29), Danskin (30), Simpson (39), Mikulic (54), de Felice (56), Apelgren (85)
Dismissals: None
Referee: Ton Klaver



Rockingham City have taken out the 2009 First Division Night Series trophy by out-shooting Wanneroo City on penalties in this evenings final at Dorrien Gardens. Nathan Diaz’s goal just before the hour looked to have settled the game in Wanneroo’s favour before substitute Luka Ivancic equalised just minutes before the end of regulation time. The game then went straight to spot kicks with Rockingham holding their nerve to claim a memorable if tense 3-2 victory. An all-action start by Rockingham was very nearly rewarded after 3 minutes when Craig McCreery’s towering header was instinctively blocked by goalkeeper Daniel Holgate, who then moved sharply to smother Michael Vaz at the follow-up. Darren Lawler’s searching cross field pass picked out Jon McCreery soon after but with Holgate in close proximity the Rockingham midfielder was unable to keep his volley under the crossbar.

Wanneroo cast aside a tentative start on the quarter hour Guy MacDonald struck wide after being teed up by Brian Cairney. Rowdy Yates had the ball in the net a couple of minutes later but Wanneroo would be denied the lead by a raised offside flag. Cairney wasted a great opportunity on 33 minutes by heading straight at Craig Olejnik from close-range, then Yates drove a free-kick well over as Wanneroo began to take control. The writing looked to be on the wall for Rockingham when Adam McLeod was dismissed for his second bookable offence in quick succession after 38 minutes. But the ledger should have been balanced within a minute but referee Peter Chapman deemed Yates’ nasty two-footed challenge on Tom Orme worthy only of a yellow card. Half-time was approaching when Cairney squandered another chance, the striker through with just the ‘keeper to beat only to be denied by the combined efforts of Olejnik and Lawler.

Paul O’Brien’s team began the second half much like the first, Darren Clark sending a free-kick to the far post where an unmarked Lawler failed to hit the target. In the 54th minute Chris Pugh flicked the ball neatly on to Cairney who snatched at his volley which cleared the bar. Cairney made amends three minutes later by driving down the right and squaring across the face of goal to where Diaz had the simple task of tapping into an unguarded net. Rockingham players and supporters breathed a collective sign of relief when Jay McDonald went down inside the area under Olejnik but appeals for a penalty were waved away by Chapman. A goal was what Rockingham wanted and after turning two defenders Vaz squeezed off a shot only to see Holgate make the save. Next to go close was Craig McCreery who headed high when under pressure.

Throwing caution to the wind Rockingham made a double substitution in the 82nd minute when Rob Clackett and Roy Hissey joined the action at the expense of Vaz and Craig McCreery. The trophy was within reach of Wanneroo as a second goal eluded them, Yates’ superb curling free-kick was tipped over by Olejnik who soon after thwarted Jay McDonald when presented with a free header. With two minutes left Clackett found Ivancic whose angled drive from 12-metres crashed into the roof of the net before Holgate had time to respond. Clackett went agonisingly close to stealing a late victory but fired into the side netting. Hissey, Peter Kuzet and Clark each converted in the penalty shoot-out to earn Rockingham their first major piece of silverware in over thirty years.

Rockingham City: Craig Olejnik, Luke Rennie, Richard Lacey (Luka Ivancic, 70), Peter Kuzet, Darren Lawler, Adam McLeod, Jon McCreery, Darren Clark, Craig McCreery (Roy Hissey, 82), Michael Vaz (Rob Clackett, 82), Tom Downes
Wanneroo City: Daniel Holgate, Matt Emery, Carl Dunne, Jay McDonald, Tom Omre, Chris Pugh, Michael McEwen, Guy McDonald, Brian Cairney (Josh Booysen, 74), Nathan Diaz (Chris Williams 83), Rowdy Yates
Bookings: McLeod (38), Downes, Yates, Diaz
Dismissals: McLeod (39)
Referee: Peter Chapman



Perth Glory deputy chairman Lui Giuliani remains hopeful of the A-League club playing high-profile overseas team in a pre-season friendly in Perth, even through it most likely will not be English Premier League outfit Everton. Glory have been negotiating to bring the Merseyside club to Perth for a game in July, however, Giuliani acknowledges that the delay in confirming the match has decreased its chances of going ahead. “I spoke to them on Thursday night and they are still trying to work out their schedule - that seems to be the issue,” Giuliani said. “At the moment they are unable to commit … the longer it drags on, the more difficult it will be for them and us because we need to consider other options.” Giuliani said Glory were already exploring the possibility of taking on other overseas clubs in case Everton chose not to visit Perth.



There’ll be a strong sense of déjà vu on Saturday evening when Floreat Athena and Perth SC match skills in the 2009 Premier League Night Series Final at Dorrien Gardens from 8.30pm. The two teams squared off this time last year when Greg Sharland and Andreas Oliveira opened up a handy two-goal buffer for Perth only to see it whittled away by Adam Bachiller and Garin Collins. The game went to extra-time and eventually penalties where, with the clock slipping past midnight, Perth emerged victorious by 6-5.

Both teams will be hoping for an earlier finish this time around after encountering difficulties in the semi-final stage. Both teams will be hoping for an earlier finish this time around after encountering difficulties in the semi-final stage. Few would disagree that Floreat rode their luck against Western Knights before grinding out a 2-1 win thanks to David Foster’s opportunistic double. It was a similar story for Perth who were held at bay by a resolute Inglewood United defence for 79 minutes, after which David Onoforo struck twice in quick succession to send them through 2-0.

Floreat boss Michael Roki still has a number of players unavailable and enters into the tournament finals as underdogs, but full of confidence. The partnership of Brad Scott and David Foster is sure to keep the opposing defence on their toes, while Dean Apelgren, Paul Vatistas and Jason Barrera give the side a very solid midfield core. Goalkeeper Alex Dunn, State representative Adam Bachiller and defender James Isaia miss the game due to prior commitments opening the door for Simon Madaschi and Ante Kovacevic to come into the first eleven.

Graham Normanton’s side will look for drive out wide where Scottish recruit Marco Pelosi has been operating with menace, while Sharland is expected to return to the starting line-up after missing out last week. State striker David Onoforo has been in scintillating form, 18-year old Michael Black continues to shine in the middle of the park with Craig Simpson impressing in defence. The absence of midfield maestro Antonio Naglieri due to an accumulation of yellow cards will have a significant effect on Perth, who recently had experienced shot-stopper Gareth Deeg hang up his gloves.



The First Division Night Series trophy is up for grabs on Saturday night when Rockingham City and Wanneroo City battle out what promises to be a cracking final at Dorrien Gardens from 6.30pm. Few will be surprised that Rockingham are the pre-game favourite courtesy of a six game winning streak, and having out-gunned Wanneroo 3-2 in qualifiers seven weeks ago. But Wanneroo will be no pushover with Gerry McEwan’s side determined to enter the home and away series with a new piece of silverware in the cabinet.

It’s been over thirty years since Rockingham last got their hands on a trophy, and after completing the initial stage without loss everyone at the club is hoping the drought is about to end. Their key strength is a near impregnable defence anchored by newcomers Peter Kuzet and Darren Lawler. The supply from midfield come via captain John McCreery and partner in crime Adam McLeod, while Craig McCreery’s finishing has been instrumental in their early success.

Wanneroo have timed their run to perfection after a touch of luck helped them through the qualifying phase. Chris Pugh was one of the star attractions in their semi-final win and his ability to influence the game from midfield, where he teams up with Guy MacDonald, will go a long way to deciding the game. Of equal importance is Brian Cairney’s ability to create as well as score in the final third, while defensively they’ll look to the leadership of Jay MacDonald and Tom Orme.



Former ECU Joondalup vice-captain Anthony Jones is still trying to get his head around the club’s sudden decision to axe him from their senior list. Jones was eagerly anticipating the coming season when first team coach Syd Amphlett dropped the bombshell. “Syd rang me on my mobile and told me in a roundabout way that the club was looking to bring in fresh blood and I would be in the reserves this year,” said Jones, who was one of the longest serving players on Joondalup’s books until Friday afternoon. “One minute I’m playing week in week out and getting great reviews from the coach himself, then next I’m being told I’m going to struggle to get a game.”

Jones was one of four players who were told their services were no longer required at Joondalup, the other being Matt Donlevy, Darren Broxton and Tommy Jones - Anthony’s younger brother. “Syd decided that with the influx of overseas players that he has arriving it would be hard for me to gain a regular spot in the team,” Jones explained. “Syd - wrongly or rightly - is pinning his hopes on players who have not arrived and ones he hasn’t yet seen play. But at the end of day he is the coach of Joondalup and he has his opinions and his future will be decided by the results he achieves.”

Three seasons at Floreat, during which he was called into the State squad for the 2003 friendly with Iraq, preceded Jones’ move north to Joondalup. Despite the club going through a succession of coaches, he has remained a constant in the centre of Joondalup’s defence and last season captained the side in the absence of Scottish import Ian McMurray. “I have absolutely no inkling that this was coming,” he added. “I’m absolutely gutted to be leaving what has been a good home to me for the last four years, and after being with a club that long you tend to feel like it is a part of you. But I’m already looking forward to starting a fresh challenge elsewhere, I’m only 27 so I have many years ahead of me and will look forward to proving some people wrong.”



Night Series success is no stranger to Floreat Athena and Perth SC but only one can take the trophy home from Saturday night’s final at Dorrien Gardens. Floreat have claimed the pre-season tournament on four occasions - the most recent of which was in 2000 - while Perth are the undisputable Night Series specialists with a record 17 wins, and shooting for their fourth n a row. Heading into tomorrow evening’s blockbuster caught up with coaches Michael Roki and Graham Normanton to get their thoughts on the big occasion.

Normanton is hoping the local football community turns out in numbers for what he’s tipping to be a cracker of a match. “Last season’s final against Floreat attracted the biggest crowd of the season, and I think everyone got their monies worth in the end, so it would be nice to see a good crowd on Saturday,” said the long-time coach of Perth. “We go out to win every game we play but a lot of coaches have said in the past they aren’t that bothered with the Night Series. But this season has been different, a number of clubs went all out to win the tournament and we’re happy to again be in the final.”

David Foster scored twice to see off the challenge of Western Knights in last week’s semi-final and book Floreat’s spot in the tournament decider. “I was very happy with the win against the Knights, everyone thought we were the underdogs, and we probably were,” commented Roki, who was appointed first team coach at Floreat at the start of 2004. “We had a disjointed side but some of the young boys who came in really acquitted themselves well. We had a game plan prior to the match and they stuck to it and in the end we probably got the right result, and more important we deserved it.”

Inglewood provided some stiff opposition in the round of four before David Onoforo struck two late goals to steal victory. “We had to grind out the win last week as Inglewood clogged things up and tried to make it difficult for us,” explained Normanton. “We did get a little impatient at times but knew chances would come and David stuck them away. It’s a little frustrating losing Antonio Naglieri for the final but that’s the rules, but it does give someone else an opportunity to step up and we’re tinkering with a few positional changes for Saturday’s game to cover for his loss.”

The Floreat coach knew early that this pre-season was going to test of his teams depth with the likes of Ante Kovacevic, Julian Madaschi, Vas Vujacic and Jovo Pavlovic absent for the majority, and in some cases the entire tournament. “Going into the pre-season we were aware of players being unavailable and we planned it accordingly,” Roki said. “It’s a bit of a worry as you need stability, but we have a good squad and we’ve made some good additions and we hope to have a number of others in place before the season starts. We need competition for places and I believe we have that this season.”

Normanton has been impressed by the way 18-year old midfielder Michael Black has handled himself throughout the Night Series. A product of Perth’s successful youth development system, Normanton believes Black will mature into an important player for the club. “Blackey made his senior debut for us at the start of the tournament and to be honest he has been in our top three players in every game he’s played,” commented the coach. “It’s been really pleasing to see him play with such confidence even though he is still quite inexperienced. We’ve had our eye on him for a while and we were waiting for him to mature, but he’s got the opportunity and he’s taken it with both hands.”

Attack-focused Greg Sharland was a notable absence last week but is expected to resume his role in the line-up against Floreat. “Greg was given a holiday by his folks and was away the whole week. He arrived late for the players’ pre-game brief wearing his shorts and thongs - the lads slapped a fine on him straight away,” joked Normanton. “Because he didn’t train all week we had him on the bench and I thought when he came on he gave us a bit extra and looked dangerous. He’ll be in the mix this week - as long as he pays his fine to the player’s kitty!”

Former New Zealand international Brad Scott is a key part of the Floreat artillery but at the end of last was very nearly lost to the game. “It was a blow when Brad decided to retire at the end of the season, he scored 19 goals for us and we knew it would be hard to replace him,” explained Roki. “But thankfully he decided he hadn’t lost the passion for the game and we’re delighted to have him back on board. Brad received big offers from other clubs but decided Floreat was where he wanted to play and we were really wrapped, he’s a top player and a top gentleman off the field as well.”

Roki is looking forward to Saturday’s showdown with Perth and has 100% faith in his players’ ability to get the result they’re after. “We always go into any game with confidence and Saturday is no different,” he said. “We’ve played Perth in the last three Night Series, we were knocked out twice in the semi-finals and lost last year’s final on penalties. They also beat us in last season’s Top Four semi-final so they have the edge on us in finals football and that’s something we’ve got to work on. We’ve struggled at times in this season’s tournament, but at the end of the day we’re here again which is a good sign for us.”



David Foster plans to kick-start his career by collecting a Night Series winner’s medal on Saturday evening. A hamstring injury sidelined the talented goal scorer early on before a loss of appetite for football led him to sit out remainder of the campaign. With the new season has come a challenge and Foster is back hungrier than ever. “It was frustrating last year, injury after injury really got me down and to be honest I lost the passion for football,” he explained. “But I’ve worked hard in pre-season and I’ve got the passion back and I can’t wait for the season to really get under way.”

A year on the sidelines gave Foster plenty of time to think about what exactly football means to him. And following a handful of group stage appearances off the bench, the 25-year old last weekend let his feet do the talking by scoring both goals in Floreat’s semi-final win over Western Knights. “It was good to get back on the park again, as I’ve been out for a while,” said Foster, winner of the Golden Boot in 2004 while at Swan IC. “I love football and I’ve really missed the game, so to get back playing and more important scoring goals is great.”

The pressure of final’s football seems to bring out the best in Foster. In 2004 he found the back of the net in Swan’s association Cup victory over Fremantle City, and two year later was on target in the black and whites penalty shoot-out loss to Stirling Lions. “I always seem to lift for finals and I hope I can play a part in an Athena victory on Saturday,” he said. “It will be tough game, Perth are a quality side but we go into the game full of confidence, and I can’t wait for the game.”

Floreat coach Michael Roki has been impressed with Foster’s pre-season contributions and has his fingers the striker can continue his goal scoring run. “It’s great to have David back this season. We tried to sign him for a number of years, but he was loyal to Swan and we were knocked back,” said Roki. “He went missing last season with injury which was disappointing, but we were delighted when he returned and he has worked hard on the track. We hope he has a good season in 2009, starting on Saturday.”

Foster’s introduction to the Floreat first eleven saw him partner New Zealand import Brad Scott in the final third, with Daniel Neiderberger pushing back into midfield. It worked a treat against the Knights and Foster is hoping his newly struck partnership with Scott can continue to reap rewards for both players as well as their club. “I work well with Brad, he’s always looking for feet and we seem to have a good connection,” he said. “We both have a good supply, with quality wide players and youngsters Jason Barrera and Paul Vatistas in midfield - I think we’re looking pretty good for the season ahead.”



Craig Simpson has turned his back on the American college system in favour continuing his career with Perth SC. The classy defender is enjoying his new home and looking forward to the season ahead. "I've been made really welcome by the club and the players are great," he said. "I've been told I've got big shoes to fill - Michael Icanovski has retired and Steven Campbell has a broken leg - but I'm enjoying the challenge and hope to contribute to a successful side this season."

Simpson has made a flying start to his stay at Dorrien Gardens, where he's forged a strong understanding with much-travelled veteran Gianfranco Circati and homespun product Trent Kay. "It's good to have Gianfranco next to you, someone of his experience is great and I've learnt a great deal from him," said 26-year old Simpson. "We are working well together along with Trent Kay, who I believe has a good future in the game."

Graham Normanton is delighted with the way Simpson has adapted to his new surrounds, and views the newcomer as the perfect replacement for Icanovski, who called Dorrien Gardens home for over a decade prior to retirement at the end of last season. "Craig is settling in nicely, and he's basically a similar player to Michael Icanovski," commented the Perth coach. "With Michael leaving, Craig has stepped into the void and it's like nothing has changed, which is how you want it really."

Simpson joins Perth after a season at ECU Joondalup where his match day contributions last year were rewarded with the clubs highest individual honour, the Players' Player of the Year. "ECU has a great bunch of lads, and they are all good mates," said Simpson, who was disappointed the club completed the season towards the foot of the table. "We had a lot of bad luck and injuries last season and it was frustrating for all involved not to get the results on the pitch."

Prior to linking with Joondalup, Simpson broadened his horizons by playing college football in the United States while on physical education scholarships at Freed-Hardeman University (Tennessee) and Dominican College (New York). "The standard of football in the college system varies depending on what program you get into," he said. "I decided in the end it wasn't for me, and not to continue my studies ... it was a difficult decision but I'm confident I've made the right move to come home."

And while he enjoyed the opportunity of playing in the United States, Simpson says at the end of the day the standard of the college game wasn't all that he had hoped for. "The league was a good standard (when I was at Freed-Hardeman University) but the team wasn't the best and so I came back last year," he said. "I returned to a college in New York last semester and although the team was of a higher standard it just didn't compare to the WA Premier League."



Chris Coyne is in contention to earn his sixth senior cap for Australia in next month’s World Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan in Sydney. The Colchester United defender has featured in his clubs past four games following a spell on the sidelines with a knee injury that prevented him from representing the Socceroos last month against Japan. Coach Pim Verbeek is a big fan of Coyne, who’ll compete with Mihcael Beauchamp and Jade North to slot into the centre-back role left vacant by injury to veteran Craig Moore. Two other West Australian’s, Richard Garcia and Michael Petkovic have been named in the squad to play Uzbekistan. The Socceroos sit on top of their qualifying group with ten points, two more than Japan and well clear of Bahrain (four), Qatar (four) and Uzbekistan (one).

The 22-player Australia squad to play Uzbekistan features Michael Beauchamp (Aalborg), Brett Holamn (AZ Alkmaar), Scott Chipperfield (FC Basel), Scott McDonald (Celtic), Chris Coyne (Colchester United), Jason Culina (PSV Eindhoven), Mile Sterjovski (Derby County), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow), Tim Cahill (Everton),Mark Schwarzer (Fulham),Harry Kewell (Galatasaray), Mile Jedinak (Genclerbirligi), Carl Valeri (Grosseto), Richard Garcia (Hull City), Jade North (Incheon United), Josh Kennedy (Karlsruher), Mark Bresciano (Palermo), Jacob Burns (Unirea Valahorum), Adam Federici (Reading), David Carney (Sheffield United), Michael Petkovic (Sivasspor) and Lucas Neill (West Ham United).


SHORT PASSES sponsorship packages must be one of the hottest tickets in town at the moment. In the past few days the Loans Café, Tiles Expo and The Not The Footy Show have joined the Swan Valley Egg Farm and Stirling Central Shopping Centre in throwing their support behind us Western Australia’s longest running football website. Contact Pete – 041 8941 583 or – if you’re interested in taking up one of our few remaining packages.

Take a trip down memory lane on Friday evening when past players of Floreat Athena and Kingsway Olympic assemble for the annual Legends game. The likes of Stan Lazaridis, Bobby Despotovski, Sean Lynch, Michael Roki, Taki Nikolaides, Terry Nicolaou and James Afkos will strap on their boots once more from 8.00pm at Litis Stadium. The curtain raiser between the Athena Masters and their Green Machines counterparts starts at 6.30pm - a lamb on the spit and full bar service will be available on the night.

The brightest young stars of West Australian football have slowly been filtering back to State League clubs following the completion of their Perth Glory Youth contracts. The contractual commitments of all Glory Youth players expired at the end of last month, freeing them up to continue their development in the local leagues. Anthony Skorich, Ludovic Boi, James Sammut and players of their ilk are no doubt better for their time with Glory, and each is determined to earn a second season with the club by shining over the coming months.



Goalkeeper Mark Birighitti is the only West Australian asked to attend a training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra next week. Birighitti, who played for Perth SC prior to joining national league outfit Adelaide United ten months ago, is one of 25 players national youth coach Jan Versleijen wants a closer look at as he plans for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup to be played in Egypt during September and October. The majority of the squad is drawn from the A-League and National Youth League with Versleijen intending to conduct similar camps overseas in coming months.

The 25-player Australian Young Socceroos squad invited into camp is Mark Birighitti, Osama Malik (Adelaide United), Andrew Redmayne (Central Coast Mariners), James Brown (Gold Coast United), Jason Davidson (Hume City), Nathan Elasi , Sebastian Ryall, Matthew Theodore (Melbourne Victory), Jason Hoffman, Ben Kantarovski, Brodie Mooy, Sean Rooney, Nik Tsattalios (Newcastle Jets), Luke Brattan, Isaka Cernak, Luke DeVere, Joshua McVey, Tahj Minniecon, Mitch Nichols, Thomas Oar (Queensland Roar), Kofi Danning, Rhyan Grant, Matthew Jurman, Sam Munro and Chris Payne (Sydney FC).


HUMBLE LYONS IN THE BIG LEAGUE (courtesy the 'West Australian')

Stirling Lions coach Mike Lyons is a happy man after being hailed a bigger star than Socceroos striker Tim Cahill. Lyons spoke of his “pride and honour” after a list of the 50 greatest Everton players had the 57-year old at No.29 - twenty places above Cahill and six higher than Manchester United star Wayne Rooney. And even accounting for the subjectivity of these compilations, Lyons’ recognition is fair reward for the heart which the raw-boned defender brought to his eleven years at the club.

The Liverpool-born stalwart played more than 450 games for his beloved Blues, many wearing the captain’s armband, and the passion he displayed from the day he signed in 1971 came back to the surface when talking of his selection. “It’s great for me when I think Everton Football Club started in 1878, that for so many years they have been going and for all the players that have played there. It’s a great honour,” Lyons told Neil Devey of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper.

Lyons’ run ‘through a brick wall’ approach is a virtue he admires in Cahill, as well as the midfielder’s knack of being in the right place at the right time. “What I like about Cahill is he always scores the important goals,” said Lyons. “He does it for Everton, he did it for Australia in the World Cup and he even did it in the semi-final to get Millwall to the FA Cup Final. And he is so brave. People say he’s got a great leap but he always keeps his eye on the ball. It takes a lot of courage to jump in between big, horrible defenders.”

High praise, coming from a big, horrible defender himself, and not surprisingly Lyons would love to see Perth Glory succeed in bringing Cahill and the rest of the Everton squad down under for a pre-season friendly in July. “I’m delighted Glory are trying to bring them here, that would be fantastic,” said Lyons. “I think David Moyes has done an excellent job as manager. I won’t say they don’t have stars, they do, but what they have going for them even more is that they are a team.”

Lyons wants that team attitude at Stirling, where he feels the club’s successful youth system has prevented them from challenging for regular season honours. “We’ve got some good, young lads coming through here - in fact, Glory Youth have had a few of our lads, which I think knackered us up a bit last year, while the likes of Marc Anthony also played for Glory. But with the likes of Alan Muir, who’s only 22 and was at St Mirren, Dean Evans, Ludovic Boi and Stevie Hesketh, we’ve got some good young lads here, while our reserves have won the league.”

First and second places on Everton’s top 50 list are two greats of any era - goalscoring phenomenon William ‘Dixie’ Dean and England World Cup winner Alan Ball. “One of my proudest moments was to have carried Dixie Dean’s coffin … I was one of four of us and it was such an honour,” Lyons said. “I remember when I was about 16 and going up to Blackpool to watch a match with a few mates and we met Alan Ball on the beach there. He played for Blackpool at the time and we were like, ‘Come to our club, come to our club’. So we always say it was us who persuaded Alan Ball to join Everton!”



A late second half double by David Onoforo has kept alive Perth SC’s dream of winning a historic fourth successive Night Series title. Onoforo struck twice in the last twelve minutes to earn a 2-0 win this evening at Litis Stadium, advancing his team to next week’s tournament decider at the expense of a tenacious Inglewood United. The match-winning haul capped a memorable fortnight for Onoforo, who marked his senior State debut with a goal against South Australia. “I thought I’d got through a couple of times in the first half, but I got pulled up for offside,” said the striker. “We battled it out and had to take our chances when they arrived and I’m glad to have scored a couple tonight and I’m enjoying my football at the moment.”

After an even opening spell, Perth carved out the first chance on goal after 8 minutes when Antonio Naglieri played in Onoforo who was thwarted by quick thinking goalkeeper Oliver Taseski. Moments later Inglewood had claims for a penalty turned down after Mladen Kovacevic’s cross hit the arm of defender Craig Simpson, but referee Michael Tolmie waved away their appeals. Inglewood began to find their rhythm and on 13 minutes James Duncan fired wide after Scottish import Marco Pelosi brilliantly halted Michael Baczynski’s run down the right. Seven minutes later Jason Colli crossed into the area where summer signing Rory Grant headed wide at the back post.

Perth were being frustrated time after time by an Inglewood midfield fully focused on the job, their slick passing game so evident in earlier games nowhere to be seen. Even so, they did go close on the half hour when Naglieri’s corner was punched by Taseski only as far as Pelosi whose cracking strike from the edge of the 18-yard box forced a good save from the Inglewood ‘keeper. Another Naglieri corner soon after caused panic in the opposing defence as Simpson fired wide at the back post. There were further chances for both sides leading into the break, Onoforo heading wide on 38 minutes and Jamie Mitsopoulos’ curling effort drifting just past the post two minutes later.

Fired up by coach Normanton, Perth opened the second period Pelosi’s driving forward to release Onoforo but again Taseski was out quickly to save at the striker’s feet. Inglewood were breaking on the counter attack and on 55 minutes Baczynski’s long-range shot was well saved by Jason Saldaris, and a few minutes minutes later a snap shot from the impressive Mitsopoulos flew narrowly wide. Phil Arnold fired just high of the crossbar after good lead-up work by Todd Howarth and Naglieri as Perth sought to go ahead. Their persistence paid off on 78 minutes, Michael Black’s run from the half way line taking him inside the penalty area where the ball ricocheted kindly for Onoforo, who converted at the second chance after Taseski blocked his initial shot.

Having gone ahead, Perth wanted more and Taseski again came to his teams rescue with another good save which denied Onoforo his second. Baczynski almost brought the teams level on 84 minutes with a superb long-range strike that was only centimetres past the far post. Onoforo again had the ball in the net soon after but his effort was ruled out by the assistant referee who’d flagged for an earlier infringement. With the clock ticking down Perth secure the win on 89 minutes when Black’s thoughtful through ball sent Onoforo past a stagnant defence with the striker rounding Taseski before slotting in. Onoforo could have ended with a hat-trick but was unable to turn in Greg Sharland’s stoppage time cross.



Wanneroo City are through to the First Division Night Series final courtesy of a penalty shootout win over Forrestfield United at a hot and humid Litis Stadium. The temperature was hovering around 37 degrees, Forrestfield created a good chance after 8 minutes when Jordan Hart was through one-on-one with Daniel Holgate only for the youngsters poor first touch to let him down. Further chances were few and far between in a scrappy opening twenty minutes, although new singing Donald Sutherland did flash a header just wide from a Forrestfield corner. A drinks break midway through the half had a rejuvenating effect on Wanneroo, a direct ball through the middle split the opposing defence and allowed Brian Cairney to fire past ‘keeper Brad Eiffe for a one-nil lead. Captain Jay McDonald was impressive in the centre of the Wanneroo defence as Forrestfield strove to get back on level terms. And that’s exactly what they did when Hunter whipped in corner which was flicked on to the back post where Craig Anderson bundled it over the line just moments before referee Mark Williams blew for half-time.

It took Wanneroo only three minutes to reclaim the lead, Cairney sending Eiffe the wrong way from the penalty spot after the striker had been felled by Ryan Thomasz. This inspired Forrestfield into their best period of the evening, and a flowing move involving three players ended with Jordan Hart shooting too close to Holgate. But the danger wasn’t over as the loose ball fell kindly for Kynon Melling who squared to Hunter but his fierce low shot was brilliantly held by Holgate, scrambling to get up after the first save. The game was well into stoppage time when Hunter swung a corner to the far post were substitute Jason Feather headed in to send the game to a dreaded shoot-out. With the score level at 3-3, Sutherland lifted Forrestfield’s sixth attempt high before Jay McDonald calmly slotted in the decider, sending the Wanneroo players into a frenzy. Wanneroo will meet Rockingham City, who defeated Bayswater City on Friday, in next weekend’s First Division Grand Final.



Floreat Athena have dumped Western Knights out of the Night Series with a gritty 2-1 victory last night at Litis Stadium. Striker David Foster was the game breaker, his two clinically taken goals inflicting upon the Knights their first loss of the new year. “That was classic David tonight. He’s a natural poacher, and his scoring instinct is exceptional,” said clearly delighted coach Michael Roki, who also praised the effort of his teams unsung heroes. “I thought Simon Elton-Bott and Jared Smith were excellent tonight, and really took their opportunities in the absence of regular starters like Adam Bachillor and Julian Madaschi.”

The Knights enjoyed the better of the opening quarter hour in which David Micevski’s snap shot from the edge of the penalty area was saved by goalkeeper Alex Dunn, midfielder David Price squirted the ball wide following some head tennis inside the 18-yard box. Floreat were unfortunate not to gain a penalty on 19 minutes when referee Paul Anderson waved away an appeal after Brad Scott went to ground following contact with Stuart Ferguson. Knights custodian Frazer Siddal then avoided embarrassment by hurriedly tipping the ball over the crossbar after misjudging a wayward clearance which resulted from Elton-Bott’s searching delivery from near the half-way line.

Having an extra man in midfield gave the Knights not only the freedom they desire but also a greater share of possession, but as hard as they tried there was just no finding the final ball forward to unlock a resolute defence. Four minutes out from half-time James Isaia won possession and threaded a long pass down the right for Foster who benefited from Okwy Diamondstar’s failure to clear by racing onto the loose ball which he poked beyond the advancing Siddall to put Floreat in the driving seat. Admittedly, the goal did come against the run of play and with Floreat’s first clear opportunity of the night.

Stung by going behind, the Knights started the second half by feverishly working the ball around the pitch trying to find an opening in the hosts defence. A quick interchange of passes between David Micevski, Barry Devlin and Price ended with the latter’s cracking shot from 20-metres smashing into the junction of the post and bar, albeit with the fingertip of Dunn. The Knights were generally struggling to make an impact in the final third, however, on 74 minutes Daniel Micevski whipped in a corner for Ferguson, whose glancing header flashed across the face of goal and tantalisingly wide of the far post.

Floreat delivered a cruel knock-out blow two minutes later when Smith stripped David Micevski of possession and fed the ball forward to Scott, his clever pass across the penalty area found Foster who, despite close attention from two opponents, classily finished past Siddall. The Knights registered their consolation in the 89th minute, the Micevski brothers linking well down the right for Devlin to steer in a low cross at the near post. Siddall was harshly red carded in a frantic final few minutes for bringing down Scott outside the box, while Dunn gobbled up a late half chance to ensure Floreat would be celebrating after the final whistle.

Post-game, Knights’ coach Paul Price rued his team’s inability to capitalise on their greater possession. “I thought we had better periods of play and played more like the home side tonight,” he said. “But towards the end of the first half we were having a few a problems at the back and we went behind just before half-time. Credit to the boy who scored it - it was a difficult chance and he finished it well. We were just unable to get that breakthrough. David Price hit the post and Stuart Ferguson came close with that header that went across the goal … I thought he was exceptional tonight, probably our best player.”



Rockingham City held their nerve to pout-shoot Bayswater City on penalties last night and book their spot in next weekend’s First Division Night Series final. Both sides entered into the game cautiously with Rockingham settling the better and a dangerous cross from Michael Vaz’s forced goalkeeper Gianni Papalia to paddle the ball against his crossbar with only a few minutes gone. A long Peter Kuzet free-kick found the head of Craig McCreery but he was unable to steer pas the Bayswater custodian from 12-metres. Frank Madaferi’s snap shot didn’t clear the bar by much as Bayswater began to spark, and soon after a centre by Ryan Frisina caused confusion in the Rockingham 18-yard box and in the ensuing panic Craig Olejnik scrambled a deflection over his bar. Papalia parried a long-range effort by Vaz with Clark slicing the follow-up wide, while Damien Catalano shot straight at Olejnik in an end-to-end contest. With half-time looming large, Bayswater when ahead through a fine cross-field ball by Catalano which picked out Steve Worthy, his volley flashed across the face of goal where Ryan Jeans drove low into the bottom corner.

The second period began positively for Rockingham, John McCreery forcing Papalia to parry his free-kick that was otherwise destined for the bottom corner. Parity was restored in the 55th minute when referee Josh Manella awarded a contentious penalty for Anthony Cumace’s challenge on John McCreery, who confidently stepped up to convert into the top corner. Clark’s hopeful effort was then touched onto the post by Papalia as Rockingham sought to take the lead, Craig McCreery slammed a free-kick into the defensive wall while John McCreery and Clark were each unsuccessful in trying their luck from distance. Tempers began to fray as time ran out and the teams became increasingly frustrated, leading to the dismissal of Morgan Dendle for his second yellow card. The last real chance in regulation was a Clark header that didn’t require a response from Papalia, leading the game to penalties. The scores was 4-4 after five kicks each when Olejnik saved from Michael Kovacevic, leaving Luke Rennie to fire Rockingham into the final.



The Night Series field has been reduced to four teams and that will be halved again with this weekend's semi-finals at Litis Stadium. Friday's showcase game is the Premier League fixture between Floreat Athena and a resurgent Western Knights (8.30pm). On paper you'd be hard pressed to go past an experienced Floreat line-up, however, a young Knights side are very much the tournament's form team and have a burning desire to add the Night Series trophy to the Football West Shield collected on the weekend.

Michael Roki is hopeful the mini-injury crisis that prevented Floreat fielding their strongest line-up in qualifers is close to an end. Daniel Neiderberger has been scoring seemingly at will thanks to a dynamic midfield in which new signing Jason Barrera and hardworking Paul Vatistas have played starring roles. Floreat have leaked goals in their most recent outings and the task of ending that unwanted flow against falls on the shoulder of State representative John Migas.

Paul Price has his team in prime form, the Knights completing the group phase without loss and fresh from mauling Sorrento 4-1 to win the Football West Shield. Their key strength is a commanding midfield that features the ball playing talents of brothers David and Daniel Micevski along with David Price. Stuart Ferguson marshals a tight defensive unit while at the opposite end of the park it's exciting 21-year old Mario Marcinko who is the player to watch.

The curtain-raiser is the First Division semi-final between Rockingham City and Bayswater City (6.30pm). With Andrew Keary, John McCreey and Peter Kuzet firing on all cylinders it's little surprise Rockingham are expected to stretch their winning run to six games and progress to the tournament finale. But first they need to get past a Bayswater side that features Ryan Jeans, Anthony McStea and inspirational captain Jason Lawton, and who are focused on putting recent off-field distractions behind them.

The feature game on Sunday brings together inner city rivals Inglewood United and Perth SC (8.00pm), who both responded well to opening round losses. Despite being the lowest scoring side in qualifying, Inglewood finished top of Group B and won't be too concerned with the underdog tag that's been placed on them. The rotation policy employed by Lee Bamber has worked an absolute treat, highlighting the tremendous depth the club have this year.

Bamber will hand the difficult task of nullifying Perth's goal scoring habits to team captain Shane Pryce with able support from their long-time goalkeeper Oliver Taseski. The contributions of Jason Colli have finally been recognised with State honours and it’s his drive out wide, the non-stop work rate of Michael Baczynski and Rory Grant’s finishing prowess that hold the key to their success.

Perth really are on a roll at the moment, wins in their last four games reaping a staggering 13 goals of which Greg Sharland and State striker David Onoforo share eight. Unfortunately, coach Graham Normanton is likely to watch this week from the stands after wrongfully being banished from the sidelines for comments made his assistant, John Coyne, during their group win over Sorrento.

Craig Simpson could not have wished for a better start to his time at Dorrien Gardens where he's part of an intimidating defensive line that includes veteran Gianfranco Circati. 2008 Gold Medal winner Antonio Naglieri pulls the strings in the middle of the park and along with evergreen Todd Howarth remains an important figure in what is arguably the most dangerous midfield team in the competition.

Proceedings get underway with Forrestfield United taking on Wanneroo City (6.00pm) in the second First Division semi-final. Matt Harold, Jordan Hart and John Hunter stood up to be counted as a very fit Forrestfield romped through the qualifiers with a perfect win record. Wanneroo by contrast scrapped into the round of four and will need big efforts from the likes of Brian Cairney, Guy MacDonald and captain Jay MacDonald if they’re serious about playing off for silverware.



If Michael Roki has his way Floreat Athena will end their decade long Night Series drought this year. Although Floreat have made the five semi-final appearances in the past six years the club have never gone on to lift the trophy - which is something Roki intends to change. “This is our fourth qualification for the Night Series finals in as many years but to be honest we have stumbled through with some hot and cold performances to achieve our first target this year,” he said. “We conceded some poor goals over the tournament and feel that we should have qualified with at least another couple of points, but that’s all history now.”

The pre-season has not been kind on Floreat, who have been hampered by injury and other player absences throughout the Night Series. And it’s going to be a case of more of the same when they come up against Western Knights in tomorrow’s semi-final. “We continue to have a number of key players missing for various reasons,” said the coach. “Ante Kovacevic, Dean Apelgren, Adam Bachillor, Julian Madaschi and Jovo Pavlovic are all unavailable which once again opens the door for other players. Our squad does have long-term depth in terms of numbers but at the moment the side consists of a number of new players to last years regular starting eleven.”

Roki selected carefully when he went looking for new signings during the summer, the coach hand picking Fremantle Spirit pair Jason Barrera and Callum Roberts while welcoming back the familiar faces of Bajo Savic and David Foster. “Jason has fitted in really well and should have an impact for us this year,” commented the coach. “Callum has been carrying an ankle injury and hasn’t seen a lot of action yet, and David has also been injured with a hamstring but is now back in full training and looking sharp. Unfortunately, Bajo has committed to his work and may not play this year, which is disappointing.”

Floreat met this weekend’s opponent at the same stage of the tournament in 2004 when Carl Medica and Daniel Trim earned the Knights a 2-0 win. Roki has seen enough of the new season Knights, coached by former Tottenham Hotspur defender Paul Price, to know his team is in for another rough night. “Obviously the Knights are an in-form team and we expect them to be at almost full-strength,” said Roki. “We will have our work cut out to match the Micevski brothers, David Price and Luka Jukic across the middle, whilst Anthony Campbell looks a handful when he plays up front.”



Lee Bamber says his players are ready for any challenge thrown down by Perth SC in Sunday’s Night Series semi-final at Litis Stadium. Inglewood United finished the qualifying stage at the top of Group B and are focused on continuing their tournament with a win over Perth. “The boys always look forward to playing Perth,” said Bamber. “It’s good to be involved in another big game and hopefully we’ll get the result even though Perth will be red hot favourites. Our squad is coming together nicely, although Louis Parkinson and Albert Osei-Tutu are doubtful with injuries this week. Rory Grant should play a key role in the game on Sunday after coming through training.”

Inglewood warmed up for the round of four with a hard-fought 2-1 win against Floreat Athena. A penalty converted by Parkinson mid-way through the first half was followed soon after the break by a stunning long-range strike by Marko Miraudo to book Bamber’s team a semi-final appearance. “We did just enough without taking too many risks against Athena. We weren’t as fluent in attack as I would have liked, but defensively I was reasonably pleased,” commented Bamber. “We’ll need to be on our toes all across the pitch against Perth. We won’t pay special attention to anyone in their side; we’ll just concentrate on our job. I just expect the team that’s picked to do what is asked of them individually and collectively to get a result.”

Bamber, a former coach with the Manchester United goalkeeping academy, has been happy with the contributions of his entire squad during the pre-season. “Everyone in the squad has done well in the Night Series,” commented Bamber, whose rotation policy has given him plenty of food for thought as the season proper draws near. “We started slowly against Armadale but we’ve gradually improved which is pleasing. The lads who’ve been given an opportunity to impress have done so and put pressure on players who thought they were guaranteed a start. That’s resulted in healthy competition for places, which can only bode well for the future of our football club.”



New ECU Joondalup coach Syd Amphlett says not too much should be read into his teams dismal Night Series record. The team from the far north failed to ignite in their five pre-season outings, winning just once while conceding an alarming twelve goals. And while that suggests some tough times ahead for the club, coach Amphlett says that is quite simply not the case. "The Night Series was not a true indication of the strength of our squad," said the coach. "I took over after one game had been played, and in the four games I was coach we had far too many players unavailable that I would have liked to play."

Amphlett's first game in charge was very much a Jekyll and Hyde experience. Joondalup competed strongly with Perth SC to be 2-1 down at the end of 45 minutes, however, a second half capitulation saw the Blues run away with the game after the break when they piled on three further unanswered gaols. "I thought the first half against Perth was excellent," said Amphlett. "But the second half showed how far we were behind in fitness and I felt we were going to have to start pre-season all over again."

One of the positives to come out of the Night Series for Joondalup were the performances of several youngsters who did their chances of playing first team football the world of good. "Having so many players unavailable gave a chance for the younger players to impress and Max Pope, John Walmsley and Jake Benson-Copper were excellent," commented Amphlett. "These boys have come through our juniors and I expect each of them to make their mark in the first team this season."

Amphlett switched from club president to senior coach and could not have wished for a better response from his players. "Their response has been fantastic," he said. "People tend forget I had a successful coaching career long before I got involved as president. We have a great new president in Adrian Kenny and a fantastic committee who believe in what I am trying to do. I'm in this because I believe I am the right person to make ECU a genuine top four team every year."

Joondalup v.2009 has a number of new faces who Amphlett says complements the existing player group. "Ryan McDarby returns to from a season at Mandurah, he was best on the ground when we played them last time. Adam Pygrum is a big strong centre forward who works hard and can hold the ball up," explained the coach. "We've also picked up goalkeeper Daffyd Jones, who has a good set of hands and is very confident, and Greg Gosling is a pacy right-sided midfielder."

At the same time there have been some notable departures from the camp. "Craig Young and Garin Collins are massive losses, their enthusiasm and experience would have contributed a lot to this team," Amphlett said. "Craig Simpson is a quality defender and another big loss, but he went halfway through last season. And we didn't see the best of John Thornley as he only returned from injury towards the end of the season."

All things considered, Amphlett is happy with the players currently at his disposal. "We have a larger squad than this time last year and the impending return of three NTC/Glory Youth players should add more strength in depth," commented the coach, who'll rely on Ian McMurray, Anthony Jones and Scott Blackmore for on-field leadership. "We still need experience to help the younger players through this transitional period."

With Joondalup's Night Series commitments at an end, Amphlett's focus is now on the club's future. "Short-term, I want stabilise the club in terms of having a competitive squad of players who do not want to leave," he said. "A stable, professional coaching team is the long term goal in addition to building a side capable of competing with the best the State League has to offer. I have belief in my own abilities - my job now is to convince the players they have the ability to do it on a regular basis."



There’s was just no wiping the smile from Robbie Dunn’s face following a superb 90-minute performance from the State team in Saturday’s Stratco Cup clash with South Australia. Antonio Naglieri scored twice either side of goals by Andy Brown and David Onoforo to earn Western Australia a deserved 4-2 win and erase the lingering memory of last years loss to the Croweaters in Adelaide. “I was really happy with the boys on Saturday; I think they really wanted to win that one, considering what happened last time we played them,” said coach Dunn. “We had a bit of a shaky start, and when they found their feet they played really well.”

South Australia hit the ground running on the weekend and would have taken an early lead if not for the heroics of goalkeeper Neil Young. Michael Matricianni looked certain to put the visitors ahead when found unmarked after 14 minutes, however, what he failed to take into account was the agility of Young whose stunning save turned the game. “I spoke to Neil about the save after the game. All the defenders had stopped as they thought he was offside, but it doesn’t matter, luckily Youngie was alert. He dived backwards, and the ball had already gone past him, so to do what he did was fantastic,” Dunn commented.

Dunn, who admitted pre-match that his over cautious approach in Adelaide contributed to last October’s 3-0 loss, caught their guests by surprise this time around with David Micevski and Todd Howarth causing no end of problems down the flanks. “I felt sorry for Toddy, he did a lot of work on Saturday, the full backs weren’t pushing him on, and he was tracking back to do their defensive work,” explained Dunn. “We sorted that out late in the first half and I thought second half he and David came more in to the game, and were both fantastic for us.”

The efforts of Naglieri, Brown and Marc Anthony in the centre of midfield delighted the State team coach. “All three were great and gave us a great platform,” Dunn said. “We discussed before the game that Nags would sit a little deeper, but what happened is SA didn’t recognised what we were doing and gave him to much space and he hurt them with his runs, and Marc supported him well by tucking in. I think everyone knows I’m a big fan of Andy and I said to him before the game he owed me a goal because I keep telling everyone he scores great goals all the time, and he stepped up to score one which was great.”

Amongst those who gained their first senior State cap against South Australia was Perth SC striker David Onoforo, whose contributions in the final third were one of the days highlights for Dunn. “David really surprised me - I’ve always known he was a good player but I didn’t realise how good he was,” said the coach. “He caused their defence problems all day with his runs and his clever play. The way he set up Nags for his first goal, and his goal was probably the pick of the goals for us, I thought he took it real, real well.”



Rival clubs would be wise to not hastily write off Cockburn City this coming season. Midfielder Anthony Periera says the club learned a lot from a pre-season that, while not quite awe-inspiring, has positioned them well for the home and away campaign. "The Night Series was a mixed bag for us as far as results go but we played some good football at times and got to see how our young players would cope under game pressure," explained 26-year old Periera. "The season proper is what counts and I know we'll be competitive - even though we've already been written off in some quarters."

Cockburn heads into the new season without several influential players from past campaigns, namely former captain Dom De Felice, Australian Schoolboys representative Jason Godfrey and veteran Shane McNally. "The loss of some key senior players from last season is probably going to hurt us a bit," conceded Periera. "Some of these players have been on the local scene for a while and we'll certainly miss their experience ... for the first time in years our depth will be put to the test."

But rather than embark on a big recruitment drive Cockburn have placed their faith in youth by promoting from within club. "We weren't in a position to recruit heavily so we've turned to the youngsters and given them a chance to take the next step," said Periera, who's impressed with what he's seen. "Those that stood out in the Night Series include Ryan Pretorious, Devon Gibson, Josh Findlater and young Ryan Edwards, who has done a reasonable job coming off the bench."

Even with so much change Periera is confident Cockburn can achieve their season goals. "We want to finish in the top five and push for the league championship, and along the way hope to blood a few more youngsters as we look towards the future," he commented. "Sorrento, Perth SC, Floreat Athena and Western Knights will be the teams to beat this year, and we're hoping to be amongst them somewhere towards the top of the table when the end of the season rolls around."



Louis Parkinson is eager to put an injury riddled 24 months behind him and get back down to business with Inglewood United this season. And the 25-year old striker showed he’s lost none of his touch by scoring the first goal in Inglewood’s 2-1 weekend win against Floreat Athena. “It’s great to back playing football again. I’ve had a couple of injuries, which has been really frustrating, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now and I can’t wait for the season to start,” he explained. “I hurt my ankle a couple of seasons ago and it didn’t heal and it was niggling away in 2007, so I decided to have surgery last year to rectify the problem and it feels good now.”

Inglewood surprised a few teams last season by reaching the Top Four play-off series and have carried that form through to the new season by qualifying for the Night Series semi-finals. Parkinson has featured in three of his clubs five games and admits to being impressed with the new crop of players at Inglewood. “It’s great to see some of the younger players stepping up for the club,” he said. “One thing that still remains is the unity at the club, everyone wants to work hard for each other through thick and thin. There’s a great camaraderie here and that’s been instilled by Lee Bamber last season which bodes well for a long season ahead.”

There’s a good mix of youthful enthusiasm and seasoned campaigners at Inglewood this year and it’s that blend that Parkinson feels is perhaps the clubs greatest asset. “You need the experienced players in the club, for different times of the season and when the game is going down to the wire,” explained Parkinson, who joined Inglewood in 2001 and two short years later collected the Gold Medal. “It’s times like these when the experienced players show leadership on the park, they’ve been there before and it can only benefit the younger players on the pitch.”

The only way was up in Parkinson’s career prior to injury with Australian under-17 representative honours along with playing for Western Australia at senior level. Unfortunately, those are but distant memories these days for the striker. “When you’re not playing it’s so frustrating but to look back at the times I’ve played for the State and Australia, they are something I’ll never forget,” he reflected. “To play for the Australian youth team for a couple of season’s was a great memory for me, also the State team game against Red Star Belgrade was a great occasion, and one I won’t forget in a hurry.”

Goals from Parkinson and Marko Miraudo on the weekend ensured Inglewood’s safe passage to the last four of the Night Series where they meet the local scene’s powerhouse club. “Perth are always a threat and they look strong this season. They didn’t do as well as they would have expected last season so they will be looking to change that in 2009,” commented Parkinson. “We matched them in the league last season going down 1-2 at Dorrien Gardens, but winning 4-2 at Clipsal Stadium. It’ll be a tough game but one we’re all looking forward to.”



The State team concept is alive and well and a program of matches is likely to be expanded over the next twelve months according to Football West chief executive Garry Chandler. Hot on the heels of Western Australia’s 3-0 win over South Australia, Chandler confirmed talks have been held with officials from the Northern Territory, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory and a delegation from Sarawak (Malaysia), while a pre-season friendly with Perth Glory could soon be back on the agenda. “The players absolutely love it and everyone’s been really supportive of the initiative,” Chandler said told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’. “It’s a great opportunity for players to showcase their talent and it’s one they haven’t had for four or five years.”

Chandler was recently appointed to a Football Federation Australia task force that will examine potential formats for a knockout competition possibly to be introduced next year. FFA are keen to involve State League teams in an FA Cup-style tournament, although until now the peak body’s focus has been on developing and expanding the fledgling A-League. But at a meeting of chief executives in Sydney last week it was decided to set up a task force to find a suitable format. “It will perhaps be the local league and cup winners going into a national tournament and eventually coming up against A-League opposition,” Chandler said. “There will probably be some kind of preliminary competition or qualification process.”



Defender Chris Coyne is on a collision course with his club as he seeks to help Australia qualify for next years World Cup finals. Colchester United boss Paul Lambert has expressed concerns about the impact Coyne's international commitments are having on his preparation and performances at club level. But Coyne is undeterred about remaining on-call for the Socceroos, even though it means he could miss crucial games for Colchester in the League One run-in. "I completely understand the club's stance," Coyne told the 'Essex County Standard'. "I've sat down and spoken to the manager about it and he has every right to voice his concerns. They pay my wages and they're who I'm contracted to for another two and a half years."

Coyne had played close to 300 senior games for West Ham United, Dundee, Luton Town and Colchester before making his long-awaited Australia debut against Iraq last June. He's since figured prominently in the plans of coach Pim Verbeek, making a further four national team appearances. "I've been unavailable for large amounts of this season, but when it comes to club and country, I know where my bread is buttered," said Coyne, whose father, John, played for Australian on eight occasions in 1979 and 1980. "But the honour of pulling on that green and gold shirt is something I've always worked hard for. It's something I've wanted to do throughout my whole career, so I'm not going to throw it away now."



Having two coaching jobs slip through his hands in four months has Paul 'Geordie' Simmons scratching his head as to why he stays involved in football. Simmons, whose CV includes spells in charge of ECU Joondalup, Stirling Lions and the State team, accepted the senior coaching position at First Division Dianella White Eagles only to later be advised his services were no longer required by the club's committee. And there was a strong sense of deja-vu last week when he was installed as coach of Bayswater City before, just days after, that decision was reversed.

Simmons has been left stunned by the recent shenanigans at Bayswater. "It's not frustrating, but very embarrassing and humiliating not only for me but my family, particularly my wife who I discussed the offer at Bayswater with prior to acceptance," he said. Simmons was offered the coaching role after meeting with two club officials, but made it clear the club needed to address the matter with their existing coaching team before he'd make a commitment. "On Thursday, 26th February, I received a phone call from one of those gentlemen saying it's confirmed ... and it was at that point I accepted the job."

But after being invited to the Night Series game against South West Phoenix, where Simmons was introduced to several Bayswater representatives as the club's new coach, everything quickly fell apart. "I received a phone call at 1.00pm on Tuesday saying there were a few problems that had to be sorted out at a meeting later that day and not to attend training that night," Simmons said. "At 6.00pm I received another call advising me the club wished to appoint Jamie Goodman as first team coach as Michael Di Fulvio was taking four weeks off - I was speechless, and that's unusual for me."

>From his days as a player with Bishop Auckland (England), Sorrento, Melville Alemannia, Forrestfield United, Kelmscott Roos and Joondalup to coaching, Simmons has seen a lot of coming and goings in football. But none of them compare to the way he's been kicked about in the past few months. "I wouldn't have a clue what's next for me," said Simmons, who has considered giving the game away for good. "The whole Bayswater saga coupled with the debacle at Dianella has left me totally despondent with football in this state, and why so many-self interested persons are allowed to cause anxiety to a lot of people is beyond me."



Melbourne Victory has taken the first step towards defending its historic A-League treble by extending the contract of attacking midfielder Nick Ward for a further two years. Ward, 23, was a key member of the Victory line-up in 2008/09, establishing himself in the centre of the park alongside Billy Celeski and Tom Pondeljak. After missing the opening six rounds of the season through injury, Ward featured in all his teams remaining matches, including the A-League Grand Final.

Ward is understandably thrilled about extend his stay in Melbourne. “It’s exciting to secure my future here in Melbourne after such a successful season,” Ward said. “I’m really happy to be part of this team, playing alongside such good players. Hopefully we can repeat our efforts next season and also do well in the AFC Champions League. I didn’t want to go anywhere else in Australia; Melbourne Victory is the club I want to be at. Now that my future is here I can do further work with the medical staff and get myself even stronger moving forward.”

Gary Cole, Melbourne’s football operations manager, said the club could not be happier about retaining Ward’s services. “It’s fantastic that we’ve reached an agreement with Nick in what is a great signing for everyone involved,” Cole said. “Nick firmly established himself in the team after overcoming his injury problems and was an important part of our successful run to the Premiers Plate and Champions Trophy. Nick’s body is now in the best shape it’s ever been, which is also a credit to the hardworking sports science, sports medicine and strength and conditioning elements of the club.”



Football West has pulled off a significant coup with the announcement of a new partnership which will see one Premier League match broadcast live on radio each week during the 2009 season. The agreement will see twenty-two games plus finals aired live on 107.3 Heritage FM, which will also broadcast a half hour preview show hosted by Bob Figg from 7.00pm every Friday night. “This is a significant step forward for our great game in Western Australia and we are delighted to have 107.3 Heritage FM on board as a broadcast partner for 2009,” said FW chairman Kevin Campbell. “The live match broadcast and preview show will allow us to expand the football brand and allows the world game greater exposure in the local community.”



Western Australia has won the 2009 Stratco Cup by out-classing arch-rival South Australia 4-2 on a warm evening at Members Equity Stadium. The central midfield trio of Antonio Naglieri, Andy Brown and Marc Anthony controlled the flow of play as WA extracted revenge for last year’s three-nil loss in Adelaide. Coach Robbie Dunn was delighted with the way his team’s attacking approach that clearly stunned the South Australian. “I was really happy with the boys today; they really wanted to win this one considering what happened last time,” said the former Socceroo. “We had a little bit of a shaky start and Neil Young’s save early was vital for us, but in the end we really deserved the win.” The only disappointment was the paltry crowd of just 1,048 that turned out to watch WA’s first competitive game on home soil in five years.

A defensive error presented David Onoforo an early chance to post the hosts first but the striker hesitated a moment too long to be robbed of a shot. Scott Tunbridge looked like opened SA’s account on 10 minutes before Ryan Townsend intervened with a strong tackle. The visitors were again denied four minutes later, this time by goalkeeper Neil Young whose razor sharp reflexes were all that prevented an unmarked Michael Matricianni from bagging the games first goal. Urged on by the small but appreciative crowd, Naglieri combined to terrific effect with Todd Harnwell, whose vicious shot stung the gloves of goalkeeper Daniel Godley. Harnwell followed this with a shot from distance that just cleared the crossbar, then Todd Howarth curled the ball around the post as WA stepped up the pace.

A soft foul just outside the area gave SA a rare chance but Simon Catanzaro’s free-kick sailed wide. WA’s persistence was rewarded in the 34th minute when Onoforo opened up the defence with a fine cross that found Naglieri, who had the time and space to confidently beat Godley. Within minutes Harnwell sent a spectacular scissor-kick over the junction of crossbar and upright as the hosts sought to increase their lead. Half-time was within sight when Onoforo nearly created his side’s second, the strikers intelligent cross-field ball picking out Micevski whose low stinging shot was tipped around the post by a full-stretch Godley.

The second half has been in motion less than a minute when an unmarked Tunbridge flashed the ball past the post with ‘keeper Young asking questions of the WA defence. Then on 48 minutes the home side doubled their lead, Brown’s driving run out of midfield taking him past a couple of opponents before the WA captain finishing clinically past Godley. The result was put beyond doubt three minutes later when a clever one-two between Micevski and Naglieri sent the latter clear to fire in a low centre that Onoforo converted from 5-metres. WA were by now stringing together some classy moves and could have posted a few more goal as chances came and went for Brown and Micevski. But their best opening was via a dead ball that Naglieri crashed goalward only to be expertly thwarted by Godley.

SA’s determination to reduce the arrears was rewarded in the 68th minute when Matricianni, who had been by far their most dangerous striker, took advantage of the home team committing too many players forward by rounding Young and slotting into an empty net. But any thoughts the visitors had of clawing their way back into the game were soon extinguished as Onoforo turned his marked and placed the ball in front of Naglieri whose bullet-like shot that gave Godley no chance. A shot on the run by substitute Phil O’Callaghan cleared the bar as WA went looking for goal number five. With the game in the bag, WA eased off during the closing stages and in the final minute Chad Bugeja stole in at the far post to head in SA a late consolation.

Western Australia: Neil Young (Phil Straker 81), John Migas, Danny Cain (Michael Pugliese 84), Ryan Townsend, Andy Brown (Jason Colli 74), Antonio Naglieri, Marc Anthony, David Micevski, Todd Howarth (Adam Bachiller 73), David Onoforo, Todd Harnwell (Phil O’Callaghan 60)
South Australia: Daniel Godley (Ben Moore 71), David Menechella, Paul Pezos, Michael D’Aloisio, Michael Pirone (Chad Bugrja 45), Adam van Dommele, Louis Brain (Ricardo da Silva 65), Simon Catanzaro (Jim Starvides 72), Scott Tunbridge (Steven Grelli 74), Michael Matricianni, Mimi Saric
Bookings: Micevski (40), Tunbridge (73)
Dismissals: Nil
Referee: Steven Gregory



Western Knights won collected the first silverware of 2009 by defeating Sorrento 4-1 in this afternoon’s Community Shield contest at Members Equity Stadium. Two goals each from Mario Marcinko and Daniel Micevski, the later name best on ground, earned Paul Price’s side a resounding victory which singles them out as one of the teams to beat this coming season. “We started slowly, which I wasn’t happy with, but we ran the game out well and our fitness showed in the end,” said Price. “We were missing a couple of lads at the back today and I know David Price could play back there and fill the void. With the injury to young Aaron Bahadori at the break it forced our hand and David fitted in well in the middle of the park and I thought he had a great second half.”

Sorrento came out firing and with 3 minutes gone had the lead courtesy of Garin Collins’ through ball that released Stuart Montgomery, who fended off the last defender before finished low beyond goalkeeper Frazer Siddall. With experienced defenders David Annall and Ivan Zuvella watching from the sidelines, the Knights battled to hold out against a rampant Sorrento attack which went close to doubling their lead through a Glen Thomas snap shot which was saved low by Siddall. Then on the quarter-hour Steve Porter’s dangerous corner was cleared by Stuart Ferguson only as far as Brodie Martin, whose shot flashed wide of the post.

The mood on the Knights bench was reaching boiling point, coach Price barking out his orders in an attempt to spur the team into action. Their first opening arrived after 19 minutes, Micevski gaining possession wide on the right and brilliantly driving his way past three opponents defenders before cutting inside the 18-yard box and rifling a low shot past Michael Lawson to bring the sides level. Sorrento then suffered a setback with influential midfielder Porter limping off on the half-hour, his place taken by Lewis Flatt. Although the stifling conditions made the going tough for both teams, it was the Knights who fashioned the better chances leading into the break. Lawson was well position to keep out a fine long-range effort by Micevski who, five minutes later, headed wide a deep Barry Devlin.

A tactical change at half-time by Price paid almost dividends for the Knights, who claimed the lead after 51 minutes. A cross by Micevski on the right made it all the way to the opposite flank where Anthony Campbell clipped the ball back into the danger zone for Marcinko’s to neatly finish at close-range. It got worse for Sorrento three minutes later when David Price won possession in the middle of the park and ran at the Sorrento defence before slicing an delightful pass through for Micevski to clinically tuck goal number three past Lawson. The atmosphere on the Knights bench was now in complete contrast to that of the first half. However, Sorrento weren’t about to give up the chase and on 67 minutes Stuart Montgomery was disappointed to send the ball high from 5-metres.

The outcome was settled soon after when Stuart Banks’ poor header went straight to Marcinko, who quickly sized up the situation and from long-range lobbed over a stranded ‘keeper to make it four-one. The Knights nearly made it five with ten minutes to go when Devlin’s shot forced a fantastic reflex save from Lawson. The Gulls custodian again came to their rescue when he kept out Marcinko’s shot from the top of the area, denying the young striker his hat-trick. Man of the match Micevski was delighted his teams performance in trying circumstances. “The weather took its toll and Pricey believed we would run out the game the better and that was the case,” he said. “It’s nice to get on the score board, and I’ve got to take my chances when I get them and was happy to play my part into today’s victory.”

Sorrento: Michael Lawson, Stuart Banks, Shaun Kilkelly, Michael Ord (Leo Harman 66), James Morgan, Brodie Martin, Stuart Montgomery, Steve McDonald, Glen Thomas, Steve Porter (Lewis Flatt 32), Garin Collins (Ciaran Hughes 63)
Western Knights: Frazer Siddall, Aaron Bahadori (Marco Warmt-Murray 46), Stuart Ferguson, Okwy Diamondstar, David Price, Luka Jukic (George Tchami 85), Daniel Micevski, Seb Trim, Mario Marcinko, Barry Devlin, Anthony Campbell (Daniel Francis 66)
Bookings: Morgan (81)
Dismissals: Nil
Referee: Mathew Cheesman



Adriano Pellegrino has capped off an impressive debut season with Perth Glory by the club’s highest individual award, the ‘Most Glorious Player’, at last nights presentation ceremony. The hard-working midfielder finished ahead of loyal servant Jamie Harnwell and young goalkeeper Tando Velaphi to win the award, which is decided by the weekly votes submitted by Glory’s coaching staff. “Adriano came to the club with the clear intention of making good on his opportunity and I’m delighted that he has stamped his authority on the team and the league,” coach David Mitchell said. “I knew his ability, he is technically very good, he gets stuck in and is a great person to have around the club. All the ingredients were there for him to be a top player but at the end of the day he was the one who had to put it all together and this season he did that.”

Rukavytsya, who joined Dutch outfit FC Twente a few weeks back, was recognised by his peers with the Players’ Player of the Year award after yet another terrific season. The Australian youth international plundered ten goals to finish level with Eugene Dadi, the pair sharing the Golden Boot Award. The Young Player of the Year trophy went home with 21-year old Velaphi, who showed why he is considered one of Australia’s top shot stoppers. Club stalwart Jamie Harnwell collected the trophy as Best Clubman for his tireless efforts both on and off the pitch. Dadi, currently on loan to FC Vaduz in the Swiss Super League, was voted the Supporters Player of the Year, and Pellegrino the Volunteers Player of the Year.



The accolades keep on flowing for promising young defender Scott Neville, who was named the inaugural ‘Most Glorious Youth Player’ at Perth Glory’s awards ceremony last night. The honour arrived just days after Neville, 20, put pen to paper on his first professional contract which keeps him a Glory player until mid-2012. “Talent plus desire equals success and Scott showed those qualities throughout the season,” said Glory Youth coach Gareth Naven. “Scott gained in confidence with each match and used that as building blocks to keep getting better and was our most consistent performer. His efforts fully warranted an opportunity at the next level and I’m sure he will make the most of it.”



Perth Glory has retained the services of defender Naum Sekulovski for the next two seasons following a superb 2008/09 campaign. Sekulovski played a variety of roles for the club before being handed the challenge of left back, where he flourished. “Last season was a real positive for me, I enjoyed playing at left-back and think it’s a position that I can make my own and hopefully that will also assist the team to reach the finals next season,” said Sekulovski. “Being able to play in a position consistently was beneficial for me and I always got the backing of Mitch (David Mitchell) and the other coaches which helped the transition to left-back.”

Senior coach David Mitchell believes the combination of skill, stamina and pace offered by Sekulovski makes him an ideal candidate for a key position in the back four. “Naum has been shipped all over the place in the past but I’ve said to him that I want him in the left back position and we’ll work with him over the pre-season to ensure he continues to develop into that important role for the club,” Mitchell said. “He showed some excellent signs last season and will only get better with the more time he spends playing there. Naum is passionate about the club and gives his all at training and in games and I’m pleased that he’ll be around for the next couple of seasons.”

26-year old Sekulovski played national league football for Morwell Falcons, Wollongong Wolves and Parramatta Power prior to joining Glory for the inaugural A-League season, 2005/06. Only veteran defender Jamie Harnwell (77 game) and team captain Jamie Coyne (73 games) have made more appearances in Glory colours than Sekulovski (61 games) during the past four seasons. “There is so much potential here and I feel we’re building something really strong at the club and wanted to stay around and be part of that,’ he said. “Next season is a big one for the club and for me and I’m confident I can make a positive contribution and get Perth Glory back to the top of the league.”



Football fans are in for a rare treat tomorrow when the West Australian State team makes their first appearance on home soil in five years. The State team, coached by former Socceroos defender Robbie Dunn, takes on South Australia in the 2009 Stratco Cup from 6.00pm at Members Equity Stadium with both sides featuring some of the best players outside the national competition. Midfield masters Marc Anthony and Andy Brown lead the way for the west while SA captain Ivan Karlovic has already captured the attention of several A-League clubs.

Dunn is delighted to be in charge of the State team and eager to made amends for last October’s three-goal loss to South Australia in Adelaide. “To be back on our home soil and playing against quality opposition in front of our own fans at Members Equity Stadium is very exciting,” said Dunn, who represented Australia on 42 occasions but wore the black and gold of WA only once. “I know the boys will be up to the challenge.”

Even though he has half a dozen players with national league experience to call on, South Australia coach Airton Andrioli is tipping a tight match. “It will be a difficult game, taking into consideration we won last year, WA playing at home in front of their home supporters will be extremely tough opponent,” said the SA coach. “I am very confident with the players we have and believe they are most capable of getting the job done.”

The West Australian squad for the 2009 Stratco Cup match consists of Adam Bachillor, John Migas (Floreat Athena), Jason Colli (Inglewood United), Andy Brown, Phil O’Callaghan, Phil Straker, Ryan Townsend (Mandurah City), Todd Howarth, Antonio Naglieri, David Onoforo (Perth SC), Danny Cain, Todd Harnwell, Neil Young (Sorrento), Marc Anthony, Michael Pugliese (Stirling Lions) and David Micevski (Western Knights).

The South Australian squad features Chad Bugeja, Ricardo Da Silva, Ben Moore (Adelaide City), Mimi Saric (Adelaide Raiders), Simon Catanzaro, Michael D’Aloisio (Campbelltown City), Louis Brain, Daniel Godley, Steven Grelli, Ivan Karlovic, Michael Matricianni, David Menechella, Michael Pirone, Jim Stavrides, Scott Tunbridge and Adam Van Dommelle (North Eastern Metro Stars).



Premier League champions Sorrento lock horns with Cup holder Western Knights in the 2009 Football West Shield tomorrow afternoon. The curtain-raiser to the Western Australia-South Australia game provides a perfect opportunity for the football community to catch two of the Night Series’ form teams. Goals were not a problem last season for Sorrento, who claimed top honours for the second time in three years. State team commitments will prevent Todd Harnwell, Danny Cain and goalkeeper Neil Young from participating tomorrow, but Steve Neville still has an abundance of talent at his disposal with key roles awaiting Shaun Kilkelly, Glen Thomas, Brodie Martin and new signing Ciaran Hughes.

A classy performance on Cup Final day earned the Knights the much sought after trophy five months ago, robbing Sorrento what would have been a historic League and Cup double. Ex-Wales international Paul Price has his team playing some superb football with Stuart Ferguson, Luka Jukic, Stuart Ferguson, Daniel Micevski and new import Anthony Campbell in particularly fine form. State duty rules play-maker David Micevski out of the game with long-serving defenders David Annall and Ivan Zuvela sidelined through injury. The Football West Shield takes take place from 3.00pm at Members Equity Stadium, entry is $10 and includes the State game.



New Perth SC signing Marco Pelosi has absolutely no regrets about leaving Scottish Premier League club heart of Midlothian. The versatile 22-year old has wasted no time in making his mark at Dorrien Gardens, starring in his teams Night Series wins against Stirling Lions and Sorrento, and generally enjoying the West Australian lifestyle. “I moved here a month ago with my girlfriend, Amanda, and we love the place,” he said this week. “The weather, the beaches and the lifestyle, and the laid back attitude of the people are great. The club and the lads have made me feel welcome, it’s a great set up here and I’m delighted to be involved.”

Perth coach Graham Normanton has been pleased with what he’s so far seen of Pelosi and is hoping his new recruit can continue on in the same vein. “He showed what he could do last week and the quality why we brought him here,” said Normanton, who kept Perth on tracks for a fourth successive Night Series title with a 4-2 defeat of Sorrento last Friday. “The whole side played well last week and the test for Marco is to show that sort of performance when the chips are down.”

A frustrating time at Hearts made Pelosi’s decision to head down under easy. “I went back to Hearts for pre-season in June last year, and after some hard work a new manager came in, which often happens at Tynecastle,” he explained. “I spoke to the new Hungarian manager Csaba Laszlo about my future and it looked like I would struggle to win a first team spot so I went to a few other Scottish clubs, but after speaking with my agent I decided I needed a change. When the Perth move was suggested I jumped at the chance, a change of lifestyle and of club was what I need at this time in my career and I love it.”

Pelosi, one of many import’s plying their trade in the West Australian Premier League, has been impressed by the standard of the local game. “I’ve only seen a few games but the league looks very competitive,” he said. “I’ve played against Stirling midfielder Marc Anthony a few times back home when I was at Hearts, when he was at Celtic in the reserves. I also know Steven Campbell quite well, we played in Scotland teams together in our junior days. We also played against each other when he was at Rangers, and when he moved to Airdrie later on and I was on loan at Raith Rovers so we played each other again.”

Loan spells with East Fife and Raith gave Pelosi some valuable first team experience. “It was disappointing not to get a chance at Hearts, every time a new manager came in it raises your hopes of a first team spot … but if your face didn’t fit you didn’t get a chance,” Pelosi said. “I went to Raith, were my former youth coach John McGlynn was - I wouldn’t be the player I am now if it wasn’t for him. We missed out on promotion (in 2008) but everything about the club was fantastic … It’s a homely club in a wee town called Kirkcaldy, they love their football and they look after their players and to be part of it was a great experience.”

Pelosi could not have wished for a better introduction to the State League, the Scotsman scoring a cracking goal against Sorrento Friday’s 4-2 Night Series win. “It was a great start for me at the club but the performance of the team was great,” he said. “The lads have been great I’ve only been here a few weeks and they are a close knit squad and they like to have a laugh at training but on Friday we showed what we can do and it bodes well for the season. I’ve come here to work hard, I’m not here for the ride I’m here to perform and I hope to show I can play at a higher level if the opportunity arises.”

The defender is hoping to impress sufficiently on the local stage to capture the attention of A-League club Perth Glory. “I’d like to think I’m good enough to play at that level, but first and foremost I’m here to play for Perth SC, and it was important we made it into the semi-finals of the Night Series as these are the games you need to play in,” Pelosi said. “Hopefully, in a couple of months when people see me play I could get the chance to play at a higher level, it would be great to play for Perth Glory.”



There’s only one thing on Robbie Dunn mind at the moment and that’s beating South Australia in the 2009 Stratco Cup at Members Equity Stadium on Saturday evening. Western Australia succumbed 3-0 when the sides met in Adelaide late last year but Dunn learned enough from that game to know it’ll be a whole different ball game this time around. “We will be going all out for the win - we played too defensively last time and we suffered for it,” explained Dunn, who is urging the football community to get out in numbers and support their State. “This is our home game and we need the fans to turn up and support the boys to give them the confidence of knowing all of WA is behind them.”

A number of players withdrew from Dunn’s 16-player squad announced a few weeks ago, opening the door for Jason Colli, Adam Bachillor and Michael Pugliese to make their senior State debuts. “Tommy Amphlett and Ian McMurray are unavailable as they’re overseas, Daryl Platten is also away while Matt Danskin and David Annall are injured,” explained the coach. “Into the squad have come new faces like Jason Colli, Adam Bachillor and Michael Pugliese.”

State team training has been full of ups and downs for Dunn, who has nonetheless been impressed by the attitude and application showed by those selected. “Training has not been as well attended as I would have liked with numbers being very low for numerous reasons,” commented Dunn, whose been limited to just four training sessions. “But when we have trained the boys have been fantastic and I could not have asked for a better bunch of lads. Their attitude has been spot on and I know they want to win this game for WA.”

South Australia brings across the Nullabor a very strong squad, but Dunn has completed his homework and knows where his opponents strengths lay. “They are very experienced indeed with quite a few ex-national league players in their number,” he said. “All of their midfield is well-drilled and will need our close attention, and we have to be wary of set pieces with the like of Ivan Karlovic especially good in the air. But our lads will not be overawed and they are definitely going out on the park to win.” Western Australia and South Australia go head to head at Members Equity Stadium on Saturday from 6.00pm.



Australia's hopes of qualifying for the 2011 Asian Cup hang by a thread after second-string side were defeated 1-0 by Kuwait this evening. The first international held in Canberra in 13 years may have attracted a record crowd of 20,032, but all went home home disappointed after the Socceroos were undone by Mesaed Alenza's header late in the first half. With four games to go, Australia sit two points behind Kuwait and three behind group leaders Oman, with the top two to go through to the Qatar finals in 2011. "We are very disappointed about the result and also about the performance," said coach Pim Verbeek. "Kuwait played defensively, very well organised, which means your ball circulation has to be faster, you have no time to take decisions and that's exactly what we didn't do."

Kuwait did most of the attacking inside the first twenty minutes as Australia struggled to get out of first gear. Talal Alamer had a good shot blocked by veteran defender Craig Moore, whose uncharacteristic error a minute later opened the door for Walied Jumah but his effort was parried away by Eugene Galekovic. Australia should have had a goal on 21 minutes when Archie Thompson's close-range shot was blocked by a defender, the ball rebounding to Tom Pondeljak who somehow hit the post from a couple of metres. The only goal arrived on 37 minutes when Bader Almutwa whipped a free-kick into the 18-yard box where Mesaed got away from Daniel Mullen to glance past a helpless 'keeper.

Australia had plenty of quality chances to score in the second half but lacked the final punch. Moore's looping header early in the period was easily stopped by Nawaf Alkhaldi, who would also deny Michael Zullo in the 66th minute. Matt Simon failed to capitalise on another chance, unable to get his free header on target. Substitute Khaled Matar could have made the game safe with eleven minutes left but his shot cannoned off Galekovic's far post. Long balls peppered the Kuwaiti defence for much of the remaining 10 minutes with the visitors standing firm, denying Australia on several occasions. Mitch Nichols summed up the Socceroos night by firing a gilt-edged chance into the crowd shortly before the final whistle.



Coach Damon Atthowe is looking forward to assembling the 2009 State Schoolboys squad with the commencement of trials next month. The Schoolboys have enjoyed tremendous success during their five years under Atthowe, who has guided the side to second twice and third once. "It's a home championship for us and it would be nice to get our strongest squad possible so we can win it for the first time," said Atthowe. "We have managed two silvers and a bronze medal in the last five years and being at home this time we have a great chance to go one better."

Trials for the 2009 Schools National Championship, being played at Lark Hill Sports Complex in Rockingham in the first week of August, start on Wednesday 1st April (4.00pm) at Britannia Reserve, Mount Hawthorn. To be eligible players must either be a full-time TAFE or secondary school student, and be aged 19 or under as of 31st December 2009 - further information is available via the School Sport WA website. The Australian Schoolboys squad to tour the United Kingdom and Ireland later in the year will be named the end of the tournament.



Perth Glory will give young defender Scott Neville a chance to fulfil his dream of playing professionally after signing the 20-year old on a three-season deal. A stand-out for Glory Youth, Neville seized his chance of senior football with some telling late season contributions that confirmed what the coaching staff had always suspected - that Neville has a big future in the game. “Scott came into the squad and stepped up to the plate straight away and I have no doubt he’ll be able to continue to develop and will be a real asset for Perth Glory,” said senior coach Dave Mitchell said. Neville is the second member of Glory Youth to be rewarded with a senior contract following last week’s signing of midfielder Andrija Jukic.

It’s been a whirlwind twelve months for Neville who helped Sorrento win the Premier League title prior to linking up with Glory Youth. He stepped up to the senior side on New Years Eve against Central Coast Mariners and the following celebrated his 20th birthday by making his A-League debut in the home win over Melbourne Victory. “I set myself to perform consistently in the Youth yeam and hoped to get an opportunity to play with Glory in the A-League and when it came around I was really happy. Now to have a contract for the next three years just tops it all off,” Neville said. “I know that I have a lot more to learn and can’t wait for pre-season training to get started so I can continue to improve and hopefully push for more game time.”

The youngster is part of the next-generation of West Australian footballers who grew up watching Glory take all before them in the old national competition, and is determined the club’s passionate supporters enjoy similar experiences in the future. “Glory is a great club and I’m really proud to be here. There is a lot of determination in the squad to make this a great season and to be part of that will be a dream for me,” Neville said. “To have guys like Gareth Naven and Scott Miller helping me was fantastic. They said ‘never let the grass grow under your feet, continue to work hard and have the right attitude to achieve your goals’. I haven’t forgotten that and I’m thankful for being part of the Youth team which has helped me get to where I am now.”



2008 is a year Armadale striker Jason Goodwin would much rather forget. Having spent the majority of last season nursing a serious knee injury on the sidelines, Goodwin was dealt a major blow when his biggest fan and father, Mick, passed away suddenly in November. "My dad was a big part of the Armadale Soccer Club and was well liked around the club," said Goodwin of his father, who was awarded Life Membership of Armadale in 2007. "He has always been there for me throughout my career, whether it was coaching, driving me to games and training or just general support."

Goodwin admits he had considered calling an end to his playing days over the summer having battled injury and poor form last year. "I missed quite a few games through my knee injury, but to be honest my form wasn't the best either," said 31-year old Goodwin, who decided to play on after scans on his knee revealed a positive outcome. "I'm working really hard in pre-season training to turn that around and apart from a few aches and pains, the body feels pretty good."

Now in his 20th season with Armadale, Goodwin feels strongly that the club are heading in the right direction. "There are a number of new faces in the squad this season and they have settled in well, so it's looking positive for the start of the season," he said. "Another bonus is the return of Ben Howe and Peter Taylor after both had a year off last season, while Stephen Skilandis is back after missing all last season due to injury, giving our squad more squad depth."

Brad Hassell is hoping for a big season from his tenacious striker. "Jason’s been training hard in pre-season and has set his mind on having a strong season," said the coach. "He's a striker but is the sort of player who will play where you ask him to. He has stepped up his leadership role this season which is good for the team, it shows he's focused. He's definitely a club man, who has been seen cheering the team on and enjoying a pint with the 'brunchies' when not playing."

Another of the new faces at Armadale is that of assistant coach Steve Robinson, who Goodwin believes is a great acquisition. "Robbo is from the Preston area in the UK, he's added a new dimension to training and is well respected by the lads," Goodwin said. "It’s a good coaching team we have, Brad's still fairly new to the coaching scene but he proved last season that he has the ability to get results under pressure ... the vibe around the club is that it is to be our best year yet."



With a script more akin to an episode of daytime television than a football club, Bayswater City has switched coaches three times in five days. It all began on Friday morning when Michael Di Fulvio tendered his resignation after becoming aware a couple of board members had been sounding out alternative coaches. Within hours a club representative had named Paul ‘Geordie’ Simmons to lead them into the 2009 home and away series, however, the former State team coach hadn’t time to find his seat when threats of a player revolt forced Bayswater into a major rethink. The melodrama’s final chapter was played out last night when, at emergency meeting held at Frank Drago Reserve, Jamie Goodman was installed as caretaker coach while Di Fulvio considers his future.



The recruitment of striker Matthew Xerri has provided Swan United a massive boost for the coming home and away series. It's no secret the black and whites struggled in the finishing department last year and Xerri, who played 2008 with Victorian club Green Gully, could be the answer to their dreams after bagging his first goal for the club last weekend. "It's always nice to score early for a new club and it gives me confidence heading into the league," said Xerri, who scored in the 2-2 draw with Western Knights.

Paul Lincoln is happy to have secured Xerri's services for the coming season and hopes he can find the net on a regular basis. "Matt has moved across from Melbourne and is still settling in," commented Swan's first team coach. "He is keen to improve his game and he has the right attitude for this. I expect that with more games and him understanding his role in the team, he'll provide us another attacking avenue."

23-year old Xerri is eagerly anticipating the start of the Premier League when he hopes to repay the faith Lincoln has placed in him. "We're working hard at training and once the injured players return we will have a good squad," he said. "Lincs has been great ... his training sessions are excellent with plenty of work intensity. And with him being an ex-striker I hope to learn more from him this season."

Xerri may have played only a handful of games but has already identified some similarities between the game in Perth and Melbourne, where he spent five years at Green Gully. "The leagues are about the same but the intensity in Melbourne is higher," said the striker. "You seem to have more time on the ball here whereas in Melbourne you're closed down quicker. But on the whole the league is very competitive."



Rhys Williams has been denied the chance to face Arsenal this weekend in the FA Cup but the defender is still hoping to send Burnley to the Emirates Stadium on a winning note. On loan from Middlesbrough, Williams can be recalled to the Riverside at a moment’s notice and as such remains registered with the Premier League club for their FA Cup fifth round meeting with West Ham United. While that makes him ineligible for Burnley’s much-anticipated clash with Arsenal Williams is not dwelling on what might have been and focusing on tonight’s derby with Blackpool. “It’s a massive game,” the 20-year old told the ‘Burnley Citizen’ online newspaper. “It’d be good for us mentally (to beat Blackpool) and good for the fans to think we’re back on track so hopefully we can go to Arsenal and give them a game.”

Burnley has already beaten Arsene Wenger’s men this season - 2-0 in the Carling Cup - but Williams is anticipating a much tougher contest this Sunday. “No-one will really expect us to win but hopefully if we can put them under pressure from the start you never know,” he continued. “We had a bad result at the weekend but it was our first loss in seven. It helped with all the results going our way; I think there was only Preston that won. But hopefully we can bounce back from the defeat and show the fans what we can do and kick on from there. We’ve got a few tough games coming up but hopefully we can take it further and get in the play-offs. There are only two points separating a few teams.”

Williams is enjoying his time at Burnley where he’s played six games since joining the club in late January. “It’s a good challenge for myself, there are good strong players and I’m really enjoying playing games. I’ve got a lot more to come. I think I’ve been a bit off the mark in the last two games - I’ve been a bit ill lately to be honest, but hopefully I can pick up my standards and go again tonight,” said Williams. “I’m getting on with the lads, they help me along in the game because I’m still young and learning. Hopefully we can help each other out, but they’re helping me a lot and I’m really benefiting from it … It’s amazing really; I didn’t think it could be like this but there’s loads of banter and it’s a good club to be at.”



An administrative error has cost First Division club Fremantle Spirit a spot in the Night Series semi-finals. The port side were deducted the point gained from their Round Four game with Rockingham City after it was discovered second half substitute Peter Vukmirovic did not appear on the match card given to referee Josh Mannella prior to kick-off. The point lost has slipped Fremantle down to third and Wanneroo City into the round of four as the second best placed team in Group A.



Times have changed but the goal remains the same in the Edwards household. Some seven years after Socceroo and Perth Glory striker Alistair Edwards hung up his boots, two of his four sons are on track to follow in his footsteps. But where persistence was the key ingredient in Edwards’ career, his teenage sons Cameron and Ryan are benefiting from a development structure that their dad helped shape as a Football Federation Australia development and high-performance consultant.

Cameron’s potential has already been recognised, the 16-year old midfielder playing a handful of games for Glory Youth prior to making his debut for Australia’s under-17 team against Uzbekistan in Singapore last year. And it seems only a matter of time before Ryan, 15, follows suit, the teenager having made his senior debut for Cockburn City in this month’s Night Series game with Floreat Athena. Whereas Edwards relied on a regular kick about with his mates and the coaching he received as a teenage player at Kwinana United in the 1980’s, his sons benefit from regular training and expert advice, and time spent with Dutch first division club Vitesse Arnhem last year.

Europe will continue to attract Australia’s best players, however, Edwards says FFA’s approach has significantly enhanced the prospect of retaining players for longer periods. The A-League stands at the top of a development pathway that has been boosted this season by the introduction of the National Youth League, and sitting below are the National Training Centre programs and various club-based academies. “The players now have an opportunity to play in what is almost a full-time environment from when they are 13-year old,” Edwards told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper.

Recent improvements to the development pathway have been particularly beneficial to West Australian players, whose options had previously been limited to making the leap from State League to Perth Glory. “There was no national league team in Perth, no NTC, no youth league, nothing,” said Edwards of his early experiences in the game. “If you lived in Perth and you wanted to follow a dream, bad luck. You had to leave.” Such has been the success of the programs that Eli Babalj, Liam Harvey, Trent Sainsbury, Million Butshiire, Alex Pearson, Julius Davies and Dejan Alesksic have worn national colours in addition to Cameron Edwards during the past twelve months.

Edwards first attempt to break from local football onto the national stage ended in tears. “I’d just turning 16 and Eddie Thomson was coaching Sydney City in the old National Soccer League,” he recalled. “I went over for a week and didn’t handle it at all well because I missed family and friends. I wasn’t ready. Cameron and Ryan don’t have to leave because they’ve got everything here.” In the end it all turned out okay for Edwards who played 19 times for Australia in a glittering professional career that took him to Scotland, England, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.



Former England international Kevin Phillips is one of the big names on David Mitchell’s wish list for Perth Glory next season. Phillips’ club, Birmingham City, are currently second in the Championship and Mitchell knows he’d have an uphill battle to lure the former Aston Villa, Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion player to Perth should his club gain promotion to the top flight. “If they go into the Premier League he’s more likely to want to stay … but if he does want to come to Australia we want to be in a position where we can say come and play for Perth Glory,” said Mitchell. The Glory boss will fly to Europe in the next few weeks to ramp up efforts to boost his squad and will meet contacts in England and the Netherlands in search of a marquee signing.



The First Round of the 2009 Cup has produced some mouth-watering encounters. Drawn on Heritage Radio's 'Let's Talk Football' program on Sunday evening, the opening round is highlighted by the Dorrien Gardens showdown between Perth SC and amateur Premier League champions Fremantle United. Newly promoted Canning City have home ground advantage against Mandurah City in another game of immense promise along with South West Phoenix's home clash with amateur Cup holder Kingsway Olympic.

Western Knights commence their Cup defence away at Rockingham City, while Sorrento takes on Murdoch University. Floreat Athena has been drawn against Swan United, and Cockburn City head to the opposite end of the city to play ECU Joondalup. Inglewood United are pitted against University of WA, and Hamersley Rovers welcome Armadale to the northern suburbs. Wanneroo City has a short road trip to Stirling Lions, Cup winners in 2007 and 2008.

Dianella White Eagles and Queens Park have big hurdles to overcome in Shamrock Rovers and Spearwood Dalmatinac, respectively. Ashfield take on Morley Windmills in one derby, and there's another at Hartfield Park between Forrestfield United and Gosnells City. Bayswater City go up against Balcatta, as Joondalup United host Fremantle City. Round one of the 2009 Cup, sponsored by Soccer Pools for the fourth consecutive year, will be played across the weekend of 28th/29th March.



Nikita Rukavytsya has finally stepped on to the Dutch stage and enjoyed the briefest of cameo roles in FC Twente's 1-0 victory over ADO Den Haag. The former Perth Glory striker has been forced to bide his time under Steve McLaren and has become an increasingly regular fixture on the bench in recent weeks. However, he finally received the call to get the tracksuit off and get on to the field of play this weekend, although no sooner was he on than he was off again. Rukavytsya came on as a 90th minute substitute for Marko Arnautovic with Twente leading 1-0 courtesy of Blaise N'Kufo's 24th minute goal.



Inglewood United secured top spot in Group B and a Night Series semi-final appearance by defeating Floreat Athena 2-1 in a tense encounter at Litis Stadium. Goals in each half by Louis Parkinson and Marko Miraudo coupled with a strong defensive performance enabled Inglewood to leapfrog over Floreat and dump Mandurah from the tournament. Oliver Taseski made the first save of the evening by moving swiftly to keep out Brad Scott’s header from a deep Adam Bachiller cross. Floreat’s continued pressure forced Inglewood on to the back foot as Daniel Neiderberger and Scott looking lively in the final third where they benefited from some good supply out of midfield. So it was against the run of play that Inglewood went ahead on 23 minutes when Alex Stamatiadis was brought to ground by John Migas, referee Steve Gregory pointed straight to the spot and Parkinson stepped up to send Dunn the wrong way. Floreat didn’t dwell on going behind for long but despite some fine movement on and off the ball they had little to show for their dominance. Scott expertly turned his marker only to be dragged down inside the area, and again referee Gregory hesitated not a moment to award a penalty which Neiderberger squeezed past the outstretched arms of Taseski to level the score.

The second half opened with Inglewood eager to increase their lead, and that’s exactly what they did in the 50th minute when Marando was afforded plenty of space to advance from half way and unleash a blistering shot from 22-metres which dropping into Dunn’s net. Marando nearly got his second of the game not long after when he drilled narrowly wide of the upright, with Parkinson desperately stretching to deflect the ball in. Although going behind for the second time clearly rattled Floreat, they did slowly rediscover their rhythm and midway through the half Scott stuck the ball in the back of the net but the whistle had already gone for offside. Even so, they were still vulnerable on the counter attack with Parkinson’s pace and close control making him the most dangerous player on the park. Saul Contera could have been Floreat’s saviour but rushed his shot high of the bar soon after coming off the bench. Inglewood substitute Brendan Craig was presented an opportunity to seal victory but after being sent free he pulled wide of the upright. The tension flowed through until the final minute when Miki Vujacic whipped a free-kick over the defensive wall only to see Taseski get down low to scoop up the ball to ensure an Inglewood win.



Stirling Lions completed their pre-season with a comfortable 3-0 win over ECU Joondalup at Litis Stadium. A brace by 17-year old Jake Geddes and Keith Clevenger’s opportunist finish helped the young Lions to all three points. With Marc Anthony back and adding bite to the centre of the park, Stirling came roaring out of the blocks. Jordan Rhodes showed he was in a menacing mood with a long-range shot that was cleared off the line in the 7th minute. Joondalup responded through youngster Max Pope whose rasping shot fizzled over the crossbar, and soon after his header from Scott Bushby’s cross smacked into the bar. Stirling were doing all they could to stand up under intense scrutiny with Dino Pacella pulling off a tremendous reflex save to deny Bushby. 27 minutes had gone when Stirling snatched the lead, Alan Muir’s perfect through ball releasing Jake Geddes who showed great composure to clip the ball over the advancing ‘keeper. Their rewarded for maintaining the pressure came just nine minutes later when Rhodes dangerous lob into the area found an unmarked Geddes who cleverly chipped Bobson Koroma for the second time.

Daniel Stoitis was in unfamiliar territory early in the second half when he squared the ball to fellow defender Damien Houston, whose bullet-like shot brought a spectacular finger tip save from Koroma. Stirling were tight at the back where Stoitis, Houston and Michael Pugliese gave the Joondalup forwards little room to move. In the middle of the park it was Muir, Anthony and Rhodes and had control, the trio spearing their team into attack at every opportunity. Mark Bentley had been on the park only minutes when the ‘keeper’s powerful low clearance turned through ball for Clevenger, who out-muscled two opponents before calmly slotting past Koroma to put the result beyond doubt. The closing stages saw some exquisite football from Stirling as they sought a fourth goal. A delightful series of flicks and deft touches between Muir, Anthony and Geddes presented the latter with a great opportunity to complete what would have been a deserved hat-trick but the teenager’s effort was unfortunately the wrong side of the post.

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This page was last updated on the 5th March, 2009