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State Leagues  

NPL Victoria Week 1: Back underway

Victoria got the 2015 National Premier Leagues season underway at the weekend as grassroots football action returned to the southern state.

Last year’s champs South Melbourne continued where they left off in 2014 by defeating runners up Oakleigh Cannons while Port Melbourne Sharks offered up the big surprise of the weekend by defateing Hume City on the road.


The restructured second-tier NPL1 got underway at the weekend also with some surprise results and brand new teams highlighting the action.


South Melbourne 1 (Adam Le Cornu 23′ OG)
Oakleigh Cannons 0
Lakeside Stadium

South Melbourne started the season the only way they know how, by winning. Last year’s winners and runners up kicked off the season on Thursday night in front of a healthy crowd at Lakeside.

An even game throughout was decided by an Adam Le Cornu own-goal midway through the first half after the defender last year’s Golden Boot winner Milos Lujic’s shot was saved by Cannons ‘keeper John Honos only to bounce off the hapless Le Cornu and into the back of the net.


Melbourne Knights 3 (Josh Brekalo 52', Andrew Barisic 64', Alex Dao 90+3)
Avondale Heights 1 (Chris Irwin 35')
Knights Stadium
Melbourne Knights were forced to come from behind against promoted Avondale Heights at home to start their campaign off with a win.

Playing in Victoria’s top-flight for the first time in the clubs history, the 2014 NPL1 winners had a shock lead in the 35th minute as Chris Irwin benefited from a mistake by Knights custodian Chris May. Knights, however, regrouped after the break with three second half goals to sink a resilient Avondale.


Bentleigh Greens 2 (Matthew Thurtell 37’, Jaime De Abreu 87’)
North Geelong Warriors 0
Kingston Heath Soccer Complex

Fellow newbies North Geelong also had a tough initiation to life with the big boys going down to FFA Cup semi-finalist Bentleigh Greens in their first top-flight game in 20 years.

Goals in both halves sealed the points for a Greens side who are tipped to push South Melbourne for the title this season. The Warriors were in the game for much of the evening but class prevailed in the end as Jaime De Arbreu put the game out of their reach three minutes from time.


Heidelberg United 3 (Daniel Vasilevski 22', 69', Kaine Sheppard 26')
Pascoe Vale 0
Epping Stadium
Last year’s surprise packet Heidelberg started their new season with a bang, overpowering Pascoe Vale 3-0 thanks to a double from one-time Victory man Daniel Vasilevski.

The ‘Bergers controlled the match from start to finish and were never troubled by a disappointing Vale outfit. Vasilevski’s first goal came through fortunate circumstances Pascoe Vale ‘keeper Stefaan Sardelic made a mess of a routine save allowing the shot from 25-yards out go behind him for a goal. His second however was all class as another shot from distance had the ‘keeper beaten on all fronts.


Hume City 1 (Jai Ingham 74’)
Port Melbourne 3 (Kamal Ibrahim 32’, Trent Rixon 70’, 90’)
ABD Stadium
In easily the shock of the round, Port Melbourne started its season with a comprehensive 3-1 away win over Hume City.

The Sharks, who only narrowly avoided relegation with an injury time goal in the last round in 2014, made the best start possible to 2015 as a double to new signing Trent Rixon in the final 20 minutes of the game secured a vital 3 points on the road.


Werribee City 1 (Josh Jokic 31’)
Dandenong Thunder 2 (Yousef Ahmed 16’, Michael Gerace 52’)
Galvin Park

Dandenong Thunder made a solid start to the new season overcoming last year’s battlers Werribee City 2-1 in a match that started in 30+ degree heat and ended in heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Yousef Ahmed, who terrorised the Bees all day with a pace down the right, opened the scoring early in the half before Josh Jokic opened his goal scoring account for his new side. The Thunder dominated the second half, controlling the fluctuating conditions better than their opponents. A fine Michael Gerace free-kick after half time settled the points for the away side as all signs point to an another tough year for Werribee.


Green Gully 4 (Nikola Markovski 15’ 75’, Matt Sanders 65’, Matt Breeze 83’)
Northcote City 1 (James Kalifatidis (p) 90’)
Green Gully Reserve

A dominate Green Gully got the job done 4-1 over rivals Northcote City to send them to the top of the NPLVIC standings.

The Monday night fixture was one way traffic as the Cavilers did as they pleased against Northcote. Already a goal down thanks to Nikola Markovski’s opener, the task got even tougher for the visitors after Jason Hayne was sent off in just the 35th minute after unnecessarily throwing the ball at Berkan Yurdakul’s face after some push-and-shove for the ball.

A second to Markovski and singles for Matt Sanders and Matt Breeze wrapped up the points for Gully. Northcote were given little more than a consolation goal at the death when James Kalifatidis converted from the spot.


NPL1
Victoria’s second tier, the NPL1, has a brand new look for season 2015 with new teams gracing the competition for the first time. NPL1 is now broken up into two conferences; NPL1 East and NPL1 West. A host of new teams are also included for the first time this year, including the youth teams of Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory.

With Victory and City Youth still going about in the NYL, only a handful of games got the season underway. The big shock of the weekend came courtesy of GV Suns as the team who struggled in the top-flight last season belted former VPL mainstay Richmond 6-0.


NPL 1 East
Goulburn Valley Suns 6 defeated Richmond SC 0
Murray United 2 defeated by Box Hill United 3
Dandenong City 2 defeated by Eastern Lions 3
Kingston City 4 defeated Nunawading City 0

 
NPL 1 West
Brunswick City 0 defeated by St Albans Saints 4
Bendigo City 2 drew with Moreland City 2
Ballarat Red Devils 0 defeated by Sunshine George Cross 1
FC Bulleen Lions 1 defeated Moreland Zebras 0
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Why you are better than the Mariners

Like anyone, from time to time we all feel bad about ourselves. Perhaps we’ve been fired, or dumped, or let someone down, or are having a fat day.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not self-affirmation or confidence-building exercises that improve ones life. In times of self-loathing, it’s only human to look for someone or something that is going to make us feel better about ourselves.


We are all familiar with that warm, fuzzy feeling we get from learning someone somewhere is worse off that you. It simply is what gets us through the tough times.

Sometimes that comfort can be found in a packet of Tim Tams and trashy reality television. Other times it’s comforting yourself with the woes of certain football teams.

Which brings us to the point of this article.

We all hate feeling as though we’ve let someone important to us down, let alone quite a few people.

In times of inner-turmoil, we can console ourselves with the knowledge that whatever we did, it wasn’t scoring an own-goal from half way like Josh Rose in the opening game of the AFC Champions League against Guangzhou. After they were already 2-0 down. In the 89th minute. Only hours after Phil Moss had said: “Certainly the AFC is a welcome distraction.” Ouch.

We’re all familiar with the cringe-worthy experience of a practical joke blowing up in one’s face. Remember when the Mariners printed off $20, $50 and $100 “reasons” to laugh at a “cashed up” Sydney FC/Graham Arnold, and then they lost 5-1. At home. In front of a record crowd. Eek.

Situations like that are harder to stomach when you have actually verbalized confidence in yourself before it all went terribly belly-up. To quote Mr Moss again, “Training so far since we came back from the break has been unreal… I really think we are headed for a much better second half of the season.” Aaahhh.

There come times in life when someone will leave us. It’s confusing and hurtful and you end up feeling disappointed and stupid. No one can relate to this more than the Mariners, who have lost quite a few key players this season.

We all remember Malick Mane who, after only four games with the yellow and navy, up and left without so much as a goal to give.

Then came the departure of Mitchell Duke, who left for a younger, faster club who could better fulfill his needs.

Perhaps most devastating of all was the announcement of the retirement of the club’s rock, John Hutchinson. At least he, like the gentleman he is, announced the departure with plenty of time and plans on staying with the club in a coaching capacity. We all know what it means when someone says “Let’s stay friends”, but it seems like he means it. More than most people can say.

Finally, let's end with some tough love. Think about all the times you’ve said “poor me” or “why is this happening to me?!”. Stop it. Stop feeling sorry for yourselves and think about the poor football team that has just been made the butt of the joke for your benefit. They’re just people too, you know. They probably have fat days like the rest of us. Stop being cruel at their expense. It’s rude.
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Adelaide breaks Western Sydney hearts

Adelaide United has defeated the Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 on a hot Saturday evening at Coopers Stadium, despite the poor finishing on display.

Relief and joy swept over the 9,212 strong crowd as Sergio Cirio slotted home an injury-time winner, having been part of an attack that missed a plethora of scoring opportunities after going down early in the first half and drawing level early in the second.


It was a similar tale for Josep Gombau’s men - particularly in the second half - as they dominated all facets of the game only to squander their chances with sub-par finishing until deep into added time, when Cirio collected Craig Goodwin’s cross to slot home past Ante Covic from 10 yards out.

The Wanderers took the lead in the 19th minute when Labinot Haliti managed to find himself with just the keeper to beat after a free kick was floated into the area. Although Galekovic was able to get a fist to it, the ball stayed within the realms of the Adelaide goal and Brendon Santalab sent it straight back from whence it came.

The ball found its way to Haliti through a sea of Adelaide defenders, and despite enthusiastic appeals for an offside flag – the likes of which may have carried some merit – the ball found its way over the line and the Wanderers had the lead.

It should have been doubled just minutes later when Nikita Rukavytsya found himself one-on-one with Galekovic, but his low drive was too straight and the famed keeper was able to get a big glove to it.

But what the Reds lacked in the first half was made up for in the second, as Adelaide threw the kitchen sink at the Wanderers with long diagonal balls wreaking most of the havoc. It was one of these balls that delivered the equaliser as Marcelo Carrusca played Bruce Djite on through the Wanderers defence. In the sprint between Djite and Covic for the ball the striker won, and with the keeper totally out of position the goal was inevitable.

From them on Adelaide piled pressure on to the visitors, often breaking down the barriers of defence in their flamboyant, entertaining style. Carrusca, half-time sub Awer Mabil and Cirio pioneered the endeavours, the three of them pushing the Wanderers deep into defensive territory. But it appeared that it was all going to amount to nothing, as Cirio went over an open goal, Carrusca went one-on-one into Covic’s chest, and Mabil shot wide from close range. When winger Goodwin tried to show them up, he too decided to fire straight at the keeper. Josep Gombau would have been a very frustrated man.

But the Adelaide boss isn’t one to spill the beans after a tense match, and using all his skills in diplomacy he said that all he is concerned about is three important points for his side.

“We are a team and we need to try to win, and after the first half after we go one-nil down we try to go ahead,” the Spaniard said.

“For me, in the first half Western Sydney beat us; they knew exactly what we wanted to do.

“Again we missed a lot of chances, but the good thing is we are creating these chances,” he said.

Meanwhile a disappointed Western Sydney boss Tony Popovic felt his side didn’t deserve to lose,

“Initial thoughts are of disappointment… I thought the players did very well today away from home against a good team,” he said.

“You wouldn’t have thought that we are a team that’s down the bottom.

“I think the game changed when they scored, they got some momentum and confidence but we had numerous opportunities to finish them off but unfortunately we couldn’t do it,” he said.

Adelaide have moved to within a point of league leaders Perth Glory with the victory, and will take on Melbourne City in Melbourne on Friday night. The Wanderers well endure a tough week ahead, with their 2015 Asian Champions League opener against Kashima Antlers in Japan on Wednesday, before flying back for the Sydney Derby on Saturday.



Adelaide United: 1. Eugene Galekovic (GK) (C), 2.  Michael Marrone, 4. Dylan McGowan, 5. Osama Malik (Craig Goodwin 45+1’), 8. Isaias, 9. Sergio Cirio, 10. Marcelo Carrusca, 11. Bruce Djite (Pablo Sanchez 68’), 18. Jimmy Jeggo, 19. Miguel Palanca (Awer Mabil 45’), 21. Tarek Elrich

Unused substitutes: 14. Cameron Watson, 20. Paul Izzo (GK)


Western Sydney Wanderers: 1. Ante Covic (GK), 4. Nikolai Topor-Stanley (C), 5. Brendan Hamill, 7. Labinot Haliti (Romeo Castelen 61’), 8. Mateo Poljak, 10. Yojiro Takahagi, 11. Brendon Santalab (Tomi Juric 34’), 12. Nikita Rukavystya, 13. Matthew Spiranovic, 18. Lapoco La Rocca (Jason Trifiro 78’), 25. Samuel Gallaway

Unused substitutes: 2. Shannon Cole, 20. Dean Bouzanis (GK)
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Sky Blues overcome plucky Mariners

Sydney FC continued its unbeaten start to 2015 with a rollicking 4-2 win over the Central Coast Mariners at Moore Park on Saturday afternoon.

Sydney FC is trying to grow up; the benches at Moore Park this week were first world, all leather and steel, but Graham Arnold pulled a standalone plastic chair alongside to cheers from the fans behind – an ominous sign, if not an attempt at humour, that Sydney are not yet beyond their struggles.


For the 14,000 present, there was an air of burgeoning expectation amongst the enthusiasm.

Typical of matches involving Sydney FC this season, the first 10 minutes were nervous from both sides, though Sydney were more comfortable in possession, and were impressive in their passing – helped by a slick surface after a rainy morning.

It took Isaka Cernak to truly open the game up: played in behind Aaron Calver – deputising for the conspicuously absent Sebastian Ryall – with a raking diagonal pass from midfield which cleared the entire Sydney defence, though Janjetovic was quick to charge down the threat to make a solid save from Cernak's shot.

Sydney responded well, controlling the game through Mickael Tavares and the irresistable Milos Dimitrijevic, and went ahead on 15 minutes when Marc Janko rose unmarked at a corner to power a header past Matthew Nash in the Mariners' goal and put his side in front.

Almost immediately after the restart, the visitors looked to drag themselves level when Jacques Faty was caught out after letting a cross bounce past him, though Cernak failed to punish the mistake as Janjetovic threw himself in front of the midfielder's shot for a second time.

Despite increasing pressure from the Mariners, especially from out wide and on the counter, the 1-0 scoreline didn't seem particularly precarious, though perhaps a slightly relaxed Sydney side were only making it seem that way.

The visitors had another chance on the half hour when Ferreira slid a flat pass across the face of goal for a sliding Nick Fitzgerald to poke past the goalkeeper, but he arrived too late to the opportunity and only deflected it on and wide of the far post.

Suddenly the Mariners were coming into the game, and achieving more than the occasionally successful through pass lofted over Sydney's fullbacks.

With halftime approaching, they wrested back possession near halfway and split the Sydney defence before it could set itself to release Ferreira through the middle, who nutmegged Faty and lifted the ball over the onrushing Janjetovic.

It was, as the referee blew to end the half, no less than they deserved.

Sydney began the second half with a greater urgency than they did the first, and Janko should've given them the lead when he overpowered a free header almost directly in front of Nash's goal.

Five minutes later, Sydney were gifted another chance when the Mariners defenders let a cross run through to an unmarked Janko out the back, but his volley back across the goal was hit straight into Nash.

The game stretched from end to end, and the Mariners struck on the counter again: Cernak cut in from the left and drifted across the top of Sydney's 16 yard box before squeezing a pass to Fabio Ferreira who slammed the ball hard and low inside the far post to give the Mariners a 2-1 lead.

A draw at this point still seemed to be the fairer result, though the home side's complacency earlier in the match had left them open to a strong response from the Mariners.

1-0 up, and with a 5-1 win over the same opposition only a few weeks ago still fresh in the memory, Sydney made the mistake of sitting back and waiting for fate to do the heavy lifting.

With an unbeaten start to the year to maintain, Sydney picked themselves up and worked on reversing the shock.

It took 10 minutes, and a silly goal, before the scoreboard read 2-2: a ball was drilled in towards Janko on the penalty spot, and was held up and eventually rolled out for Rhyan Grant, who swung his foot across it and unleashed a drive from 25 metres that flew past Nash and nearly destroyed all logic within a 5km radius, drawing Sydney level with around 25 minutes left to play.

Sydney were looking more likely to win after their second goal, though the Central Coast remained dangerous on the break, as they had been all afternoon.

Ultimately, the home side's superiority shone through, and Shane Smeltz scored a truly skillful goal to put Sydney back in front. Picking the ball up from Janko inside the Mariners' penalty area, Smeltz chopped the ball outside once to take it away from the man sliding in, then cut inside to bring it onto his right before finishing low to Nash's right.

The Mariners had a chance to make it 3-3 in a moment of chaos late on, but Sydney's defence, shaky as it had been all afternoon, held firm as the crowd held its collective breath.

Minutes later, they were celebrating a fourth Sydney goal after Alex Gersbach pushed through on the left and squared a pass to Janko for a simple tap-in.

The final 4-2 scoreline seemed harsh on Phil Moss and the Mariners, though the result was probably right – Sydney had managed to score more goals, after all, and that's how football works.

Sydney ventures beyond Moore Park for the first time since February 6 next week when they travel across the city to face a resurgent Western Sydney Wanderers side.

The Mariners, meanwhile, will look to bounce back from this loss when they head to Newcastle; the two clubs still pushing Melbourne City and the Brisbane Roar for finals football.



Sydney FC starting XI: Janjetovic (GK), Calver, Faty, Petkovic, Gersbach, Tavares, Dimitrijevic, Antonis, Ibini, Brosque (C), Janko

Sydney FC substitutes: Necevski, Smeltz, Jurman, Naumoff, Grant


Central Coast Mariners starting XI: Reddy (GK), Roux, Anderson, J. Rose, Poscoliero, Montgomery (C), L. Rose, Caceres, Fitzgerald, Cernak, Ferreira

Central Coast Mariners substitutes: Nash, Hutchinson, Major, Trifiro, Kalik
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Perth keeps Adelaide at bay at Coopers

Adelaide United and Perth Glory fought out a 1-1 draw at Coopers Stadium on Sunday afternoon as 9,711 fans were shown a game of two distinct halves.

Adelaide opened the match in its standard home-ground fashion, nabbing an early goal through Pablo Sanchez who bewildered the Perth defence with a superb run.


Having collected Tarek Elrich’s subtle through-ball, Sanchez turned around one defender and stepped past another before chipping the ball to the left of Danny Vukovic.

But that goal was nullified early in the second half through a Nebosja Marinkovic screamer, as the big Serbian belted a stunning drive into the far side of Adelaide’s goal from outside the area.

Collecting Sidnei Sciola’s pass following a lengthy run down the flank, Marinkovic caught all the Adelaide defenders and keeper Eugene Galekovic by surprise by having a crack, and despite the gloveman’s extended dive to the far post, the ball cannoned into the top corner of the net.

Perhaps most surprising though was the way in which the visitors were able to turn their performance around at half-time.

During the opening verse, Perth consistently slowed down the play via unnecessary fouls, frustrating the fans and the Reds players alike.

But on the resumption of play it was a different story as the hosts were pushed around by a speedy Glory outfit, led by Sidnei’s constant running down the wing.

As a result Adelaide spent most of the second half on the back foot, something this squad isn't used to at home.

The pressure was telling and all of a sudden it was the Reds missing passes and interceptions they otherwise would have devoured.

In the last ten minutes Adelaide fought back though, but despite having a good deal of the ball in the final third of the park Vukovic stood tall as he came up with a number of acrobatic saves to ensure his side travelled home with a solitary point.

Despite Perth’s supreme form all season, it’s a point more than the last two times they have met Adelaide.

The tie also showcased one of Josep Gombau’s biggest headaches: finishing.

Once again his team created a smorgasbord of chances but were unable to find the back of the net regularly.

Sergio Cirio and Bruce Djite both missed tap-ins at crucial times, and the thrashing against the Jets aside, this is a problem that Gombau can’t seem to arrest.

Gombau said of the draw that he was happy with the result – a statement he habitually makes in post-match dissection.

“My feeling is that I can say now to the players that we did a good game,” Gombau said.

“We had control of the game, and we had more of the chances… but we did better in the first half than the second half.

“We played well, for sure that we will have good things in the future, and now after this weekend everything is the same as before it started,” he said.

Perth manager Kenny Lowe was also pleased with the result, having avoided a loss to his bogey team for the first time this season.

“[Adelaide] is a tough place to come, they’re a super team and play some great football,” Lowe said.

“We hung in there and got something out of it, and as the season progresses we might look back on a result like this and think ‘you know, this could be a turning point or nick you over the line for something’."

Adelaide lines up again on Saturday when they host Western Sydney Wanderers, whilst Perth heads to Melbourne to take on Melbourne City on Sunday.



Adelaide United: 1 Eugene Galekovic (GK) (C), 2. Michael Marrone, 4. Dylan McGowan, 5. Osama Malik, 7. Pablo Sanchez (Bruce Djite 71’), 8. Isaias, 9. Sergio Cirio, 10. Marcelo Carrusca (Craig Goodwin 76’), 18. Jimmy Jeggo, 19. Miguel Palanca (Awer Mabil 60’), 21. Tarek Elrich

Unused substitutes: 14. Cameron Watson, 30. John Hall (GK)


Perth Glory: 1. Daniel Vukovic (GK), 5. Rostyn Griffiths, 8. Ruben Zadkovic, 9. Andy Keogh, 10. Nebojsa Marinkovic, 11. Richard Garcia (Chris Harold 45’), 16. Sidnei Sciola (Dragan Paljic 76’), 19. Josh Risdon, 21. Scott Jamieson, 23. Michael Thwaite, 28. Denis Kramar

Unused substitutes: 3. Brandon O’Neill, 15. Jamie McLaren, 18. Jack Duncan (GK)
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Spoils shared in high-scoring Big Blue

A-League football returned to eastern Sydney after the Asian Cup break as Sydney FC drew 3-3 with Melbourne Victory in a chaotic match at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.

A lot is changing at Sydney FC – the Cove has moved ends, for one, and there are two "SUPER SCREENS COMING MARCH", according to the writing on the scaffolding at either end of the ground – and Graham Arnold arrived back at Allianz Stadium for the first time this year hoping that the change stopped with some seriously big screens, as his side looked to maintain an unbeaten record that stretched back into late 2014.


After a typically frenzied start, Sydney was first to settle into a rhythm and capitalised after just seven minutes when Victory fullback Jason Geria stepped clumsily across Christopher Naumoff as he broke towards Nathan Coe's goal, with referee Strebe Delovski awarding a penalty. Mark Janko continued his goalscoring run with his fourth in three games, placing the ball coolly past Coe to give Sydney a deserved lead.

The goal awakened the Victory and they looked to disturb the relative comfort Sydney had afforded themselves after going in front.

Besart Berisha had a shot which deflected off a Sydney body in front of goal and sailed threateningly over Vedran Janjetovic, but the goalkeeper was alive to the danger and moved sharply to save.

The home crowd was getting its first look at new recruit Mickael Tavares – Sydney having played their previous two matches away in Gosford and Perth since his signing in early January – and he was impressive as Sydney controlled the tempo of the game, often falling back in between the two central defenders and dictating play from deep.

With 10 minutes remaining in the half, the game changed from its relatively calm state; Kosta Barbarouses, stumbling past one Sydney player in midfield, drew an advantage from the referee and, after playing a one-two with Berisha, pushed through to the top of the box, cut back across Sebastian Ryall and poked a shot towards the far post with the outside of his foot to draw his side level.
Five minutes later, Melbourne completed the turnaround.

Driving through the Sydney midfield, Barbarouses took the defenders in front of him out of play by dropping his shoulder and squaring a pass to an unmarked Gui Finkler, who picked up the ball on the run and buried a shot into the bottom left corner of Janjetovic's goal.

Sydney kicked off again and gave up possession almost immediately. With halftime approaching, the momentum was clearly with the visitors.

Play resumed slowly after the break with Sydney now chasing a lead and Melbourne suddenly finding themselves in the rather more enviable position of having to defend one.

Barbarouses teased Sydney's defence as he drifted in from the right and Sydney found room to move forward down the left through Alex Gersbach, who played fruitless balls across the penalty box from wide as Janko and Brosque lagged behind Victory defenders.

Sydney, now, was pressing harder and looked more likely to score the game's next goal, though it came in Mark Bosnich rant-inducing circumstances as Sebastien Ryall tripped on nothing behind Gui Finkler, and Delovski pointed to the spot.

Shane Smeltz, having replaced Janko up front, stepped up to the ball and scored a relaxed penalty before charging across to celebrate in front of an exploding Cove.

Melbourne went back in front shortly after Smeltz's goal – justifiably, after the penalty decision up the other end – as Nicolas Ansell arrived late to a corner to smash a clean header down the centre of the goal.

On the touchline, Kevin Muscat spun around and bellowed something into the crowd. Up near halfway, Berisha was being pulled away from a fracas (does that word get used anywhere else but sports writing?) that one can only assume he started himself.

It was a match that probably should have ended here, in a Melbourne Victory win – some might wonder whether a win for Kevin Muscat is ever a win for football, but at least this one would've deserved. Fate rather cruelly intervened in Sydney's favour, however, and with time slipping away Smeltz met a cross to sneak a looping header past a scrambling Coe, equalising for his side again.

Sydney is at home again next week against the Central Coast Mariners and will hope to improve on their performance here as they look to cement their place ahead of the Brisbane Roar in the top six.

Melbourne Victory will head north to Suncorp Stadium to take on Brisbane; the home side will be wary of Melbourne City behind them on the table and doubtlessly eager to remind the competition that they're not completely irrelevant.


Sydney FC starting XI: Janjetovic (GK), Ryall, Jurman, Calver, Gersbach, Tavares, Dimitrijevic, Naumoff, Ibini, Brosque (C), Janko

Sydney FC substitutes: Necevski, Smeltz, Antonis, Grant, Stambolziev


Melbourne Victory starting XI: Coe (GK), Geria, Ansell, Leijer, Galloway, Valeri, Milligan (C), Barbarouses, Finkler, Ben Khallafah, Berisha

Melbourne Victory substitutes: Broxham, Thompson, Nabbout, Mahazi, Thomas
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Jets steal a point against Wanderers

The Newcastle Jets left it until the dying moments of injury time to snatch a 1-1 draw against the Western Sydney Wanderers at Hunter Stadium on Saturday evening.

After last weekend’s dramatic injury time 2-1 loss against the Brisbane Roar, it was Newcastle’s turn to dish out the heartbreak to Wanderers fans who thought they’d secured their first away win of the season.


New South Korean signing Kije Lee was the star for the Novocastrians after he calmly slotted home a penalty resulting from an Antony Golec handball in the Wanderers box.

The 23-year-old was in blistering form for the Jets and his 93rd-minute strike counted out Brendan Santalab’s goal five minutes before full time which strangely also came as result of a handball penalty this time the Newcastle box.

Newcastle boss Phil Stubbins said he was “extremely happy for the group” and pointed out Lee for individual praise after the match.

“Obviously Tony (Popovic) has got a terrific team and for us to come back like we did, particularly with the youth we had on the pitch, it’s fantastic for everybody,” Stubbins said.

“It’s an indication to the supporters that we’re trying to get people on board who want to play the right way for us and have a crack.

“I think it was great for everybody to see Kije have a run like he did and to score a goal like he did might suggest we’ve got a bit of a gem there.”

Stubbins also praised the desire and performance shown by his whole squad to snatch an important point to keep the Jets off the foot of the 2014/15 A-League ladder.

“I think the boys would say they’re satisfied with the outcome but more so the performance,” Stubbins said

“Our seniors players really stood up today and the younger boys really tried to match everyone around them and everyone put in a real shift for the club.

“It’s not the result we were aiming for, it’s not a win, and we always want to try and get the three points, but in terms of our performance that’s the kind of spirit and resolve we want from players that playing for the Jets.”

Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic said he was disappointed by the result and felt his team had enough chances to seal the match but was glad to get his first point on the road. 

“The first half wasn’t a great half of football, but the second half we dominated and should have been up by two or three goals before we got the penalty and in the end unfortunately we couldn’t see it out,” Popovic said.

“We got our first point away from home after losing seven straight games, but we were also close to getting our first win on the road.

“When you’re not up by two or three the ball can bounce around and we need to be more ruthless in putting teams away when we have the opportunities and see the game out.”

The opening half of the match provided little entertainment until, much to the delight of the crowd, the RBB set off some flares which gave everyone some respite from the monotony.

Western Sydney’s Tomi Juric provided most of the on-field action and nearly gave the visiting side the lead with five minutes remaining in the opening period but could only manage to rifle his shot into the side netting of Ben Kennedy’s goal.

The second period was much livelier with both teams sharing the chances until Nikolai Topor-Stanley found the net in the 83rd minute only for it to be disallowed for a foul on Kennedy.

However, the visitors took the lead just two minutes later with a coolly struck spot kick thanks to Santalab after the ball struck former Wanderers defender Daniel Mullen’s arm in the box.

The Wanderers had no time to respond to Newcastle’s equaliser with little over a minute left in injury time and Lee celebrated his goal by placing the ball under his shirt and sucking his thumb in tribute to his wife who is seven months pregnant.

The result means the Jets remain one spot above the cellar dwelling Wanderers on the A-League ladder but the Wanderers still have two matches in hand on the Novocastrians.

Western Sydney will now turn their attention to their match against Adelaide United next Saturday night, while the Jets travel to New Zealand next Sunday to face the Wellington Phoenix.
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Penalties punish Mariners as Roar claim victory

Despite the Mariners’ best efforts, two errors in defence have cost them three points and a potential spot in the top six, losing to Brisbane Roar 2-0 in Gosford on Friday night.

Both goals were made very easy indeed for the Roar with two well-taken penalties from Jean Carlos Solorzano and Thomas Broich, in the 49th and 92nd minutes respectively, securing the seventh-placed team a much-needed win.


What seemed to be disappointing from the spectators' point of view is not that the Mariners lost, or that they lost at home, or even that it is their sixth loss at home, or that they conceded in the final minute of play, but that once again a referee has seemingly managed to make a match about himself.

Though one could easily argue that the referee had no other choice but to award the first penalty against Eddy Bosnar for a handball, the second one was simply a case of a more experienced player outwitting a less experienced one. The basically harmless but un-co tackle from A-League youngster Anthony Kalik was exploited by Broich, and you can’t blame him for that.

“Thomas is a player with great experience and he knows how to sniff out a penalty, and young Anthony will learn from it and he will grow from it,” Moss said after the game.

Despite the ending, the first ten minutes started in fairly even form. The Mariners even enjoyed a period of solid attack for the next ten minutes, with a relentless barrage of shots at Brisbane keeper Michael Theo.

New recruit Fabio Ferreira was quick to impress fans, showcasing skill and desire in offense, creating plenty of opportunities for the yellow and navy early on.

“I ranked the first half performance with some of our best of the season…we had some chances in the first half, we didn’t take our chances but Fabio did well tonight for his first performance for the club,” Moss said.

The loss of Mitchell Duke, who left the Mariners for J-League club Shimizu S-Pulse was softened by the addition of Ferreira, but he wasn’t the only one giving Brisbane cause for concern.

John Hutchinson had Theo on his toes with a well-aimed header in the 15th minute, and birthday boy Nick Fitzgerald tried very hard indeed to celebrate his twenty-third year by getting on the score-sheet, applying pressure to the Roar’s defense.

While both teams tend to keep possession in their defensive thirds as a way to rebuild play and control of the game, Brisbane took the initiative to apply pressure.  A moment of hesitation in attack from Eddy Bosnar in the 38th minute forced the Mariners to turn back again, resulting in dispossession, but at least the Roar were doing their job well.

The Mariners didn’t give up on their “if-in-doubt-pass-it-back” mantra despite several intercepted passes and errors, with Liam Reddy almost gifting Thomas Broich with a goal in the 39th minute. Broich should have squared off to Brandon Borrello, but alas, he did not and the Mariners dodged a bullet.

There were plenty of chances made and plenty of chances lost at both ends of the pitch by the end of the first half. With both teams fully aware of the importance of a win at this stage of the competition, the second half brought a renewed sense of desperation in attack.

The first goal came in the 49th minute from a penalty taken by Solorzano after Bosnar was charged with a handball. The Mariner was not at all happy with the referee’s decision, arguing the ball had slapped into his hanging limb from a deflection. It’s hard to say what happened, but suffice to say it didn’t end well.

Liam Reddy, who has both saved and conceded the most goals of any keeper in the A-League this season, added one more to his tally.

While Brisbane settled into the second half swimmingly, the Mariners found themselves once more flailing in neck-deep water.

Although the Mariners were a touch frazzled defensively after the goal, they didn’t drop their heads after conceding, still pushing forward with strong chances from Bosnar and Fitzgerald.

Another free kick for Brisbane almost resulted in a goal in the 64th minute, with Luke Brattan showing off his technical prowess, testing Reddy once more who managed to tip it over the crossbar.

Anthony Kalik, the youngest player in the A-League, replaced captain John Hutchinson in the 71st minute, meaning either Moss is really supportive of developing young talent or that at this point he is literally willing to try anything. (A bit of both, perhaps?)

As the last ten minutes of the game approached and the Mariners edged towards their sixth home defeat this season, it was hard to not feel that this game would not bring a positive conclusion for the Mariners.

And yes, it did get worse...Broich was awarded the penalty against Kalik in extra time, leaving the score 2-0, Kalik feeling terrible, and the Mariners even further away from making the finals.

In typical Phil Moss style, he remains adamant that the Mariners are still in the running.

“Yep. It’s gonna be tough, but mathematically while its still possible we’ve got a chance to make the top six,” he said.

The Mariners will play Chinese favourites Guangzhou on Tuesday night in their opener of the ACL, allowing the players to refocus their attention on something other than A-League matches.

“Certainly the ACL is a welcome distraction from tonight,” Moss said.

It's a welcome distraction for all Mariners fans.



Central Coast Mariners starting 11: 2. Storm Roux, 3. Josh Rose, 4. Jacob Poscoliero, 7. John Hutchinson (C) 8. Nick Montgomery, 10. Anthony Caceres, 11. Nick Fitzgerald, 12. Liam Reddy (GK), 18. Glen Trifiro, 19. Matt Simon, 25. Eddy Bosnar, 26. Fabio Ferreira

Central Coast Mariners substituts: 1. Matthew Nash (GK), 14. Travis Major, 15. Matt Sim, 16. Liam Rose, 20. Anthony Kalik

Brisbane Roar starting 11: 1. Michael Theo (GK), 2. Jerome Polenz, 4. Adam Sarota, 5. Corey Brown, 12. Jean Carlos Solorzano, 13. Jade North, 15. James Donachie, 17. Matt McKay (C) 18. Luke Brattan, 22. Thomas Broich, 28. Brandon Borrello

Brisbane Roar substitutes: 3. Shane Stafanutto, 8. Steven Lustica, 9. Andrija Kaluderovic, 21. Jamie Young (GK), 34. Shannon Brady
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New-look Mariners keen to finish strong

It’s out with the old and in with the new for the Central Coast Mariners as the 2014/15 season nears completion.

The past few weeks have brought news of signings, departures and extended contracts, but it’s also been a time of reflection and hard work.


New recruit Fabio Ferreira has joined the club whilst current players Jacob Poscoliero and Michael Neill will extend their contracts to the end of the 2016/17 season.

“It’s a privilege to be worthy of another contract and I am thrilled to be on the Central Coast for an additional two seasons, full credit to Mossy’s belief in me,” Neill said.

"I certainly won’t play this season but I intend to be back training with the team before the end of the season to be in full fitness for 2015/16."

Despite having been out of action for quite some time now due to injury, Neill remains a valuable contribution to the team. Similarly as an A-League newbie, Poscoliero has also proven himself as up to the challenge.

“Posco was the stand out centre back of the state league last year and Blacktown won that, full credit to Blacktown for the hard work they put into developing Jacob’s game,” Moss said of Poscoliero.

"He’s stepped up to this level and his first few performances warranted him selection over established Mariners first team players."

However, with the departure of lead striker Mitchell Duke to J-League team Shimizu S-Pulse effective immediately and the upcoming departure of captain John Hutchinson at the end of the season, everyone will be waiting to see if the Mariners manage to keep themselves together.

As it is, the Mariners are holding onto the A-League by a thread, but Hutchinson’s departure will test the durability of the club’s fabric, with many describing him as the thread that holds the team together.

“Hutch is an important member of our squad in the dressing room, on the training pitch and in the community," Moss said

"He’s a fantastic captain, a great leader and a rock solid midfielder who has a lot more quality than what people give him credit for."

As a foundation player of the A-League and veteran of the club, the loss of Hutchinson will be felt both on and off the field, but the good news is that he is looking to stay with the Mariners in a behind-the-scenes capacity.

“I’m currently in discussions with the club to see if there will be a future role for me; I am a fully qualified B licence coach and will be taking my A licence in the near future," Hutchinson said.

"Hopefully I can stay on in a working capacity with the Mariners, I obviously want to stay with the club."

The club and players are certainly in a different state of being than they were this time last year, when they had their captain and they were on the top of the table.

While the Mariners managed to come from behind last weekend to claim a 2-1 victory over Adelaide United, that sort of display of Mariners grit has seldom appeared this season.

The win – their third this season – can be viewed as a recovery from their humiliating 5-1 loss at home against Sydney FC on the 24th of January, but it’s still a ways off from making it to the finals.

As the eighth-placed Mariners face seventh-placed Brisbane Roar this Friday evening, a win would ensure they move up a spot on the ladder and move a step closer to the finals.
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New Perth Stadium gets juices flowing out west

Sports fans in Western Australia can look forward to battle lines being drawn over the next few months as debate begins over who should open the 60,000 capacity new Perth Stadium upon its completion.

Work has begun on the project at Burswood, just minutes east of the Perth CBD, and is due to be finished in December 2017 with the inaugural event to place in the first quarter of 2018.

Football West, the round ball game’s governing body in the state, has launched a bold plan to have the Socceroos take on a world powerhouse in the curtain raiser.

The Australian national side hasn’t graced Perth since a friendly against Indonesia in 2005, much to the annoyance of the local football community, and Football Federation Australia (FFA) has confirmed that it is on board with the initiative.

“The new Perth stadium will be a world-class venue, so it makes sense to open the stadium with a major football match that will resonate across Australia and Asia and make an impact on the global media,” said FFA boss Gallop.

“FFA commends Football West on this initiative and we'll work with [FW Chairman] Liam Twigger and [FW Chief Executive Officer] Peter Hugg in conjunction with the WA Government on what is an ambitious and exciting project.”

Former Socceroo and Perth Glory midfielder Richard Garcia, born and raised in WA, is amongst those fully behind the ambitious proposal.

“I think that would be fantastic,” he told the A-League club’s website.

“Perth hasn’t really seen something like that and something as big as an international match at a new stadium would be fantastic, not only for Australia but for WA.

“I’m sure you could probably sell a game like that three or four times over so it’d be fantastic for WA.”

At the time of writing, a Perth Now poll asking whether a Socceroos v England clash would be a fitting first fixture for the new stadium has been met by a 80.26% ‘Yes’ response from 2193 votes cast.

However, Football West and FFA will have a battle on their hands, with the Australian Football League (AFL) likely to push for a Western Derby between the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers.

Given that the AFL is partly funding the project, it’s perfectly understandable that they want first crack at the facilities.

“We would be very keen to play the first game there and hopefully it is a derby,” WA Football Commission chief executive Gary Walton told The West Australian.

“That would be a great way to kick it off given that AFL football will be the main financial backers of the stadium.”

Another thing in the AFL’s favour is the fact that its season is likely to get underway before FIFA’s March window for international friendlies.

According to their official calendar, FIFA will allow friendly internationals between March 19 and 27 in 2018, with Saturday, March 24 the ideal date for a football match to take place in Perth.

Given the travel involved though, and the fact that it is the business end of the season domestically, there would likely be objection from the club sides of those included in the squad for such a trip.

Of course, all of this case building is dependent on construction going according to plan, and the state is known as “Wait Awhile” for good reason.

The development of the Perth Arena, now home to the National Basketball League’s Perth Wildcats and the Hopman Cup tennis competition, began in June 2007 and was due to completed by 2009, at a cost of $160 million.

However, countless delays and disputes followed, and the cost of the project blew out to $548.7 million before doors were finally opened in November 2012.

Any similar delays for the new stadium could pose a massive problem for the AFL and the two WA based clubs with Subiaco Oval expected to be demolished, though no formal announcement has been made around that yet.

The plans for the New Perth Stadium are very impressive and it will be a welcome addition to the state’s sporting landscape if all goes according to plan.

At 60,000, it will become the nation’s third largest venue after the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and Stadium Australia, with potential for that to increase to 70,000 with ‘drop in’ seats.

It will also include over 1000 television screens, 1500 toilets, 4G Wi-Fi coverage, and an all-important cup holder in every seat.

Reports from the middle of last year put the cost of the stadium at $820.7 million, with a further $81.7 million going towards the surrounding precinct and $16 million covering project management.

Whether the Socceroos end up opening the stadium or not, the long term potential for WA to attract international household names is great now that Australia has become such an attractive destination.

This year alone will see Manchester City, Real Madrid, AS Roma and Liverpool take in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide during their offseason, while FFA no doubt has something up its sleeve for Sydney and the A-League All Stars.

Perth missed out on hosting games during the recent Asian Cup due to a lack of State Government support and inadequate facilities, something which simply cannot be repeated.

Even though nib Stadium, home to Perth Glory, has undergone an excellent makeover in recent years, it is still reportedly not up to scratch for top level games and the New Perth Stadium will alleviate any such stumbling blocks in future.
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