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State Leagues  

Is City signing the W-League's death warrant?

The 2015 World Cup was a watershed moment for Women’s Football in Australia.

Over two million people around the country tuned in to watch the Matildas become the first senior Australian national team to win a World Cup knockout game having finished second in a group containing the CONCACAF champions and eventual tournament winners, the USA, European Championship semi-finalists Sweden and African champions Nigeria.

Image credit: Sydney Gilleland
The eventual Round of 16 victory came against CONMEBOL champions Brazil before an eventual late quarter final exit against Asian Champions and eventual runners-up Japan.

A few months on and the attention turns to the next edition of the Westfield W-League as it played no small part in our success in Canada with the likes of Steph Catley, Elise Kellond-Knight, Katrina Gorry, Caitlin Foord, Kyah Simon, Sam Kerr and numerous others in the squad all getting their starts in the early editions of the competition.


So far it has grown consistently and organically, producing local players that have gone on to prove their quality in the some of the world’s best leagues, as exemplified by the stints in the United States of the aforementioned Catley, Kerr, Foord and Simon.

It has also brought quality imports to our shores with the likes of U.S. internationals Lori Lindsey and Meghan Rapinoe, Seattle Reign stars Keelin Winters and Jess Fishlock, England World Cup goal scorer Jodie Taylor and not least, Ballon d’Or winner Nadine Angerer all gracing our pitches.


This season however, the league to which the games development in this country is so critically tied will face its biggest challenge yet: the entrance of Melbourne City.

Without wanting to sound like a street corner vagabond preaching the end of days, this could be a crushing blow for the game if the right parties don’t respond. Already the scavenging has begun.

Matildas duo Lisa De Vanna and Laura Alleway have joined from Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar and I am comfortable in expecting that they will not be the only big signings the Bundoora based club will make before October’s kick-off.


The lure of state of the art, club-owned facilities and full time contracts will be understandably attractive to many with most W-League players accustomed to shared grounds run by local state federations and part time contracts which often pale in comparison to even some National Premier League men’s footballers.

This investment is of little surprise as City Football Groups owner, Sheikh Mansour, could pay the $150,000 W-League salary cap 3.2 million times over with just his own personal wealth and no one could begrudge any footballer for wanting in.

The problem then appears. Currently only Canberra United get anywhere near the salary cap – whilst still falling a fair way short – and there is no indication that big investment will come from those sides run by Hyundai A-League clubs that may have the money to improve their situations.

Brisbane Roar’s recent financial difficulties have been well documented, Adelaide United were reluctantly forced to bail out their W-League side earlier this year after it came dangerously close to folding and Perth Glory’s owner Tony Sage has long been critical of having to pump money into their W-League outfit.

This is not to mention Melbourne Victory and the Newcastle Jets who are still run by Football Federation Victoria and Northern New South Wales Football respectively, with Victory in particular having been scarily quiet so far this off-season.


There is, of course, the great hope that Melbourne City plucking a few star players from each club will encourage A-League bosses to improve their investment however, there is no precedent in Women’s football in Australia to suggest that increased funding will be forthcoming. Even the financially stable Sydney clubs, who both control their W-League sides, are not expected to improve their financial input substantially, if at all.

What we must be extremely wary of is A-League clubs using any considerable imbalance over the next two years as an excuse to withhold funding. The idea that “we can’t match City’s spending, so why bother?” would be disastrous.



Competitiveness on the pitch, in the stands and with sponsorship is absolutely critical and at the moment it feels like the other eight W-League clubs are about to jump out of the gates against a Makybe Diva from early November in 2004.

Will A-League clubs care enough to try and match City? Even if they wanted to, is it financially viable for them? Do the State federation run clubs even have half a chance?

Unfortunately I don’t think so and nor do I think we should have to find out. But we will, and I truly hope the W-League doesn’t suffer for it.
Read more..

Bayswater City claim third straight NPL title

It happened. It had been a question of 'when' rather than 'if' for some time now but, after 19 games, Bayswater City claimed their third straight WA NPL title with a 4-1 win over Perth Glory.

Still undefeated this season, Bayswater will look to take their form into the NPL Finals Series.

Around the grounds this week, every game was a goal fest with Stirling Lions' epic 5-4 win over ECU Joondalup a highlight whilst Perth SC handed Bayswater the title with their 5-2 thrashing of second-placed Floreat Athena.


Bayswater City 4 (Heagney 37’, Tong 66’, Marulanda 74’, 84’)
Perth Glory 1 (McDougall 38’)
Frank Drago Reserve

Bayswater wrapped up their third WA NPL title in a row in fine fashion, putting four past a battling Perth Glory outfit. A tight first half came alive late as David Heagney took the lead for Bayswater after converting Gustavo Giron Marulanda’s cross, only for Michael McDougall to immediately respond for the visitors. The Glory defended stoutly in the second half but Adam Tong broke their resistance just after the hour mark when he headed home Todd Howarth’s free kick. Marulanda made the points safe with 15 minutes to go with a composed finish, before the Columbian added a second soon after. 11 points clear with three games to play, the only question is, can they remain undefeated?

Perth SC 5 (Theodosiades 54’, Pritchard 59’, 70’, Furfaro 62’, Evans 82’)
Floreat Athena 2 (McMahon 30’, Burton 56’)
Dorrien Gardens

A five-goal second half from Perth saw them end Floreat's hopes of winning the league. The away side dominated the first half and went ahead when Lewis McMahon headed in after Francis Soale attempted to punch a cross clear. The game came to life after half time as a Nick Theodosiades tap in triggered a goal spree. Steve Burton poked home to restore the Floreat lead before Mark Pritchard equalized and Frank Furfaro gave the Sky Blues the lead. Furfaro then squared for Pritchard to score his second, the fifth goal in the space of just 16 minutes. Floreat strived to work their way back into the match but Dean Evans swept home late to officially end the visitors’ title hopes.

Inglewood United 1 (Keogh 31’)
Armadale 3 (Bealey 17’, Fuller 50’, Kingston 90+3’)
Inglewood Stadium

Armadale extended Inglewood’s poor run of form with a deserved two-goal win at Inglewood Stadium. Both teams had chances in an action-packed first half, as Jackson Bealey’s free kick gave the away side the lead before Kenny Keogh equalized with a superb solo goal. After the break, Jesse Fuller took advantage of some slack marking to head Armadale into the lead from a throw-in. Inglewood pushed numbers forward late in an attempt to rescue a point, but they were punished on the break, as Fuller rolled the ball to Darren Kingston to tap into an empty net.

Cockburn City 3 (O’Brien 21’, Patterson 43’, 90+2’)
Subiaco 2 (McMurray 8’, Coates 60’)
Dalmatinac Park

Rory Patterson’s injury time winner saw Cockburn prevail in a thrilling, five-goal encounter with Subiaco. Ian McMurray gave the away team the lead when Cockburn goalkeeper Jack Adams dropped a cross, but City drew level against the run of play when Harry O’Brien knocked home the rebound from a Patterson shot. McMurray had a header ruled out for an alleged push, and the decision became even more vital when Patterson took the lead on the stroke of half time. Cockburn pressed after the break and Owen Coates looked to have secured a point when he met Matthew Akehurst’s cross. But Patterson’s composed finish deep into injury time left Subiaco undeservedly heading home with nothing.

Balcatta 1 (Sammut 24’)
Sorrento 4 (Harnwell 10’, 54’, Canham 67’, Salter 86’)
Grindleford Reserve

Todd Harnwell’s brace enhanced Sorrento’s chances of a top-four finish whilst simultaneously ending Balcatta’s top-four aspirations. Harnwell stabbed home from close range early, before James Sammut finished off Steve Sokol’s good work to level the scores. It stayed that way until the second half, when Harnwell again converted from close range before Sean Canham rose highest to head home Darryl Platten’s free kick. Balcatta were given a lifeline when Danny Cain was sent off, but Kieron Stallard hit the post with the resultant penalty. Jack Salter made Balcatta pay for the miss, bundling the ball over the line late to clinch the win.

ECU Joondalup 4 (B. Montgomery 13’, Amphlett 42’, Own Goal 63’, Annis 90+1’)
Stirling Lions 5 (Patarov 19’, Quinncroft 41’, Malcolm 55’, 57’, Bowden-Hasse 86’)
ECU Joondalup Football Stadium

Stirling claimed their first win in four games, coming out on top in a nine-goal classic with ECU Joondalup. Bayley Montgomery’s great individual effort handed ECU the lead, but Alen Patarov responded soon after and Billy Quinncroft’s header gave the hosts the lead. Tommy Amphlett’s incredible long-range strike squared it up at half time, but Shane Malcolm’s quickfire double after the break handed Stirling the ascendency. Keylon Pollard forced an own goal with his first touch to close the gap and Jon Higgins’ free kick was centimetres away from equalizing for the hosts. Unfortunately for ECU, Nathan Bowden-Hasse’s late header sealed the win for the Lions, although Ollie Annis did grab a consolation.

Round 20 Fixtures
Armadale vs Perth SC
Perth Glory vs Balcatta
Stirling Lions vs Inglewood United
Sorrento vs Cockburn City
Subiaco vs ECU Joondalup
Floreat Athena vs Bayswater City
Read more..

Matildas friendlies would boost interest in women's game

The Matildas’ World Cup campaign grabbed this nation by the collar and wouldn’t let go.

Never before has the women’s game enthralled Australians like the Canadian tournament did and our female team paid its nation back with a thrilling run to the quarter finals.

The Matildas train at Valentine Sports Park in the lead up to the World Cup. Credit: Football NSW
With this in mind, it’s high time the FFA gave the Matildas a chance to continue to build on the momentum garnered in the World Cup with some high profile friendlies. To this end, The Football Sack have come up with the four teams we’d love to see come to these shores.


United States of America

The best on the planet and world champions, what’s not to love about the stars and stripes making a journey down under? By playing the USA here, the Matildas could test themselves against the global benchmark in what would be a glorious display of attacking football. If one adds in the constant need this nation has to get one over the Americans in any sporting arena, it’s a proposition that’d appeal to any football fan.

Would the public pay to see Carli Lloyd chip the keeper from halfway again? You bet they would. Would they pay to see Elise Kellond-Knight pull the strings against the best midfield in the game? It’s almost certain.


England

There’s absolutely nothing quite like a sporting battle between England and Australia to get the local fanatics into top gear. With both teams making huge strides in the World Cup it’d be a tight battle that would capture the nation’s imagination, and an Australian win would have football fans in a frenzy.

As our closest cultural rival and evenly matched sides, this would be a fixture that’d surely grab the attention of both nations.


Japan

The Matildas’ continental rivals have been one half of some epic matches of late, most recently in the World Cup quarter final where the Japanese broke the hearts of a nation with a last-gasp one-nil win to send the Matildas packing. Before that they beat Australia in the Asian Cup final and have generally been a thorn in the side of Australian women’s football.

A visit from the Japanese would be a chance for revenge at home for the Matildas, and one that the public would be foolish to pass up.


France

The French, when on their game, are one of the best female football sides going around. Attacking, fluid play is as pleasing on the eye as football can be and in the World Cup they showed they can match the world’s best for 90 minutes with ease.

If the French were to make the voyage to Australia fans could expect to see a battle of attacking football which would please even the most ardent critics of the beautiful game, and would be a great test for our improving side.


Which team would you like to see come to Australia to take on the Matildas? Let us know on Twitter @Thefootballsack.
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NPL WA Round 16 Wrap

Another week, another goalfest in the WA NPL; the ball found the back of the net 27 times over the six games, as the race for the Golden Boot heated up.

Bayswater's Gustavo Giron Marulanda and Rory Patterson both had big weekends, whilst Floreat's Ludovic Boi kept himself in the race. With six games left and an eight point lead, Bayswater are looking a safe bet to take out the title, whilst the rest of the league are simply playing for pride.


Perth Glory 2 (Vulin 42’ PEN, Talimdzioski 66’)
ECU Joondalup 2 (Doyle 81’, Amphlett 85’)
Inglewood Stadium
Late goals from Paddy Doyle and Tommy Amphlett saw ECU Joondalup come from two goals down to snatch a draw with Perth Glory. The home side proved a handful for ECU’s young backline all day long and custodian Jamie Serra had to be at his best to deny Jacob Collard and Dejan Spaseski early. However, he was unable to deny Slobodan Vulin, whose injury time penalty sent Serra the wrong way after Stefan Valentini had been brought down in the area. Despite a bright start to the second half from ECU, the Glory doubled their lead when Collard’s cross found Talimdzioski and the striker made no mistake from close range. Perth looked home and hosed, but Doyle stabbed home from a goalmouth scramble to set up a tense finale, before Amphlett outpaced the defence to seal a memorable draw.

Subiaco 1 (Milne 66’)
Floreat Athena 3 (Stynes 17’, Gate 36’, Boi 86’)
Rosalie Park
Floreat kept their flickering title ambitions alive with a comprehensive victory away to Subiaco. Jon Stynes opened the scoring after Subiaco were unable to clear Kris Gate’s square ball, before Ian McMurray missed a golden chance to equalize, hitting the post after he rounded goalkeeper Fraser Greenwood. The hosts were made to pay for their wastefulness minutes later, when Gate converted Ludovic Boi’s cross to make it 2-0 before half-time. Ignacio Dominguez missed a big chance to pull a goal back after the break, but Daniel Milne made up for the miss with a bullet header midway through the half. Subiaco pushed forward in search of an equalizer, and their quest was helped by Floreat’s Jack Allen receiving his marching orders. But the away side hit Subiaco on the break and Boi clipped past Ryan Montgomery in goals to stamp out any hope of a comeback.


Bayswater City 4 (Giron Marulanda 20, 27’, 70’ PEN, Sam 61’)
Cockburn City 3 (Kavanagh 47’, Patterson 58’, 60’)
Frank Drago Reserve
Gustavo Giron Marulanda scored his second hattrick of the season as Bayswater fought off Cockburn in a see-sawing match. The Columbian menaced Cockburn’s back four from kickoff, hitting both posts early and having a low strike ruled out for offside. It proved to be a case of third-time lucky for the striker, when he converted a one-on-one with Cockburn ‘keeper Curtis Aspden and promptly exploited a poor defensive header to make it 2-0 at half time. Conor Kavanagh’s response just after half time brought Cockburn back into the game, and it didn’t take long for their own foreign hitman, Northern Irishman Rory Patterson, to level the scores on the hour mark. Minutes later, Patterson took the lead for the away side with a powerful strike, only for Bobor Sam to immediately equalize up the other end for Bayswater. It was Marulanda who proved the difference when he was fouled in the box with 20 minutes to go, converting the penalty to keep Bayswater’s unbeaten record intact.

Stirling Lions 1 (Shuruma 51’)
Armadale 4 (Skorich 3’, 90+2’, Machochi 62’, Francis 81’)
Macedonia Park
New signing Anthony Skorich scored a brace as Armadale added to Stirling’s recent woes with a comfortable win at Macedonia Park. Skorich opened the scoring when he met Jesse Fuller’s low cross with a diving header, and should’ve had a second when Lance Alavakis parried a shot straight to him. Daniel Micevski and Shane Malcolm spurned chances to level for the Lions, before Laurence Shuruma tapped home after half-time to equalize. Armadale retook the lead however, as Faustino Machochi fired home form a tight angle. Darren Francis’ late, wonderful half-volley made the points safe, before Skorich added his second deep into injury time.


Sorrento 3 (Harnwell 38’, Eades 65’, Pearson 82’)
Inglewood United 0
Percy Doyle Reserve
Sorrento stretched their unbeaten streak to 10 games with a 3-0 win over a battling Inglewood outfit. United's Scott Witschge was the danger-man early, twice testing the Gulls' goalkeeper James Morgan. After struggling to break down the defence, Sorrento took the lead through Todd Harnwell’s exquisite curling shot just before half time. After a tight opening to the second half, Jack Eades found the net with a long-range free kick, before Ryan Pearson wrapped up the points late in the game with a powerful finish from outside the box.

Perth SC 3 (Pritchard 6’, Vittiglia 15’, Evans 37’)
Balcatta 1 (El Yassiri 87’)
Dorrien Gardens
Three first half goals powered Perth to victory over Balcatta and saw them claim the annual Ferrari Cup. After a minute’s silence in respect of the passing of Perth members Daniel Odina and Esad Djulbic, the home team were fired up and took the lead through Mark Pritchard, following some nice build-up play by Aden Da Luz. It didn’t take Perth long to extend their lead, as Reece Vittiglia’s sublime solo effort found the net.  Gustavo Catarcione and Cameron Teece came close for Balcatta, but Dean Evans’ free kick all but wrapped up the points before half time. In an uninspiring second half, Balcatta substitute Hasan El Yassiri scored a late consolation, but their day went from bad to worse when another substitute, James Sammut, was sent off for treading on Harley Orr.

Round 17 Fixtures
Perth SC vs Sorrento
Armadale vs Subiaco
Cockburn City vs Stirling Lions
ECU Joondalup vs Floreat Athena
Bayswater City vs Balcatta
Inglewood United vs Perth Glory
Read more..

No room for error at Perth Glory

With just over ten weeks to go until the start of the 2015/16 A-League season, Perth Glory supporters find themselves in the all too familiar position of trying to find positives after a testing six months.

The salary cap issue that resulted in the club being booted from finals at the end of the last campaign has had massive repercussions, with a number of quality players leaving for rivals.


Danny Vukovic, Scott Jamieson, Andy Keogh, Rostyn Griffiths and Jamie Maclaren would be at home in any A-League squad, and Daniel de Silva, Riley Woodcock, Jack Duncan, Youssouf Hersi, Mitch Nichols, as well as short term signings Dragan Paljic and Denis Kramar, have also departed.

No press release was ever issued regarding the position of both Paljic and Kramar but the fact that they haven’t been sighted at preseason training has allowed people to draw their own conclusions.

A total of 17 players have exited the club in just 12 months, leaving a squad of just 17 senior players (including three goalkeepers) at the time of writing.

Reinforcements are believed to be on the way, with links in the press this week to Tomi Juric and former Glory striker Nikita Rukavytsya, while Hungarian international Gyorgy Sandor is a very shrewd pick up by all accounts.

Former Western Sydney Wanderers trio Ante Covic, Jerrad Tyson, and Antony Golec have come on board, along with youngsters Alex Grant and Hagi Gligor.

Perth Glory has made front page headlines for the wrong reasons in 2015.
However, the losses far outweigh the gains on paper before you even factor in the whole gelling process that is required when you have such a high turnover of players so expectations are rightfully low.

Off the field is where Glory’s biggest battle lies though, with more and more supporters losing faith in owner Tony Sage.

Sage still has plenty of followers who feel that the club would go to the wall without his backing, but it will be very interesting to see just how close attendances come to reaching last season’s average of 9,542.

The offseason hasn’t exactly done much for improving public relations, with only a few days’ notice being given for friendlies against State League opposition while Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and the Gold Coast have all benefitted from hosting glamorous European opposition.

The club has gone some way to appeasing disgruntled fans by lifting Facebook bans from last season, some of which were ludicrous in the first place.

You reap what you sow in life and social media is now the most common platform for people to vent. While there are of course lines that shouldn’t be crossed, silencing those who have merely put forward valid opinions is not the way to manage the issue.

Glory has quite a chequered past when it comes to its social media presence, with questionable tweets sent out before being quickly deleted and passed off as an account hacking.

And who could forget the Instagram comment that referred to then Wellington Phoenix man Jeremy Brockie as a #dudstriker?

The official Glory Twitter account was "hacked" back in January.
Supporters can see through the thinly veiled apologies and excuses though, and any sign of unprofessionalism just provides another stick with which to beat the administration during the tough times.

Jason Brewer’s involvement in the salary cap issue has been well documented, and the party line continues to shoulder him with full responsibility, despite whispers to the contrary.

In his place, Glory have appointed Peter Filopoulos as the new Chief Executive Officer, a man who brings with him a wealth of experience in sport so, taken at face value, it looks like a real coup.

However, the proof will be in the pudding and Filopoulos has a lot of work to do if he is to win back the supporters who, after years of supporting their local top flight club, have had enough and walked away.

And who can blame them? Loyal fans have great pride in their club and take any sort of public embarrassment personally.

Most can tolerate a lack of success and a few rough seasons on the pitch but to be lied to and cheated out of potential success by an incompetent administration is a whole different matter.

Glory return to competitive action in a fortnight when they take on the Newcastle Jets in an FFA Cup Round of 32 tie at Magic Park.

A repeat of the win against the same opposition last season would be a good start to a campaign that simply has to be go smoothly.
Read more..

NPL WA Round 15 Wrap

Round 15 of the WA NPL was Rivalry Round, and the action were befitting of such a round.

Goals (23 in 6 games), upsets (Perth Glory and Balcatta both upset more fancied opponents), comebacks (Floreat's recovery from an early two-goal deficit) and close contests were all on show.

Meanwhile, Bayswater continued to do what they do best (win), effectively ending Perth SC's title hopes and simultaneously making it a two-horse race between themselves and Floreat.


Cockburn City 3 (Patterson 12’, 45+1’, 60’)
Armadale 1 (Francis 79’)
Dalmatinac Park
Rory Patterson scored a hattrick as Cockburn comprehensively accounted for Armadale at Dalmatinac Park. The hosts opened the scoring early when a quick throw-in caught Armadale off guard and allowed Julian Teles to square for Patterson to finish. The Northern Irishmen continued to cause the visitors problems, narrowly firing wide before forcing a good save from Luke Radonich, before scoring his second in injury time. Armadale started the second half strongly, with Anthony Skorich and Darren Francis coming close, but Patterson completed his hattrick on the hour mark. Francis grabbed a late consolation from a header, but Cockburn held firm to claim all three points.

ECU Joondalup 1 (B. Montgomery 10’)
Sorrento 3 (Killkelly 19’, B. McDonald 75’, Hirrell 78’ OG)
ECU Joondalup Football Stadium
Sorrento completed a league double over their northern rivals ECU Joondalup with a deserved 3-1 victory. Bayley Montgomery gave the hosts a surprise lead when he swept home Joe Smith’s cross, only for Sean Killkelly’s header to level the game soon after. Sorrento returned from the break the stronger team, substitute Steve Boss and Jack Salter coming closest. However, they had to wait until late in the game to make the breakthrough, when Brad McDonald’s 20-yard strike found the net. The result was sealed three minutes later, when ECU’s Cian Hirrell turned the ball into his own net.

Bayswater City 2 (Giron Marulanda 19’, Howarth 28’)
Perth SC 0
Frank Drago Reserve
Bayswater edged closer to the title with a deserved victory at home to 3rd placed Perth. Gustavo Giron Marulanda continued his recent run of form in front of goal on the 20 minute mark, when he latched on to David Heagney’s through ball and beat Fraser Soale in goals. The Columbian was  part of Bayswater’s second, when he drew a foul outside the box and Todd Howarth curled home the resulting free kick. In an exciting finish to the first half, Marulanda and Danny Dixon came close for the hosts, whilst Nicholas Ambrogio’s lob was inches too high up the other end. Perth had it all to do in the second half and piled numbers forward, allowing City to hit them on the break repeatedly. Mark Pritchard twice drew saves from Bayswater custodian Devon Spence, but the Azzurri were unable to find the net, leaving Bayswater to claim an important three points.

Perth Glory 3 (Talimdzioski 44’, 82’, Vulin 71’)
Subiaco 0
Inglewood Stadium
Nic Talimdzioski continued his rich vein of form with a brace as Perth Glory pulled off a surprise win over Subiaco. In an evenly-contested first half, Glory custodian Jordan Thurtell made a superb one-on-one save to deny Joshua Booysen, before Talimdzioski capitalised on a poor clearance to take the lead for the home side. Subiaco started strongly after the break and thought they had a penalty when Daniel Milne was upended in the box, only for their appeals to fall on deaf ears. The decision proved costly when Slobodan Vulin played a one-two with Tom King before scoring from an acute angle to double Glory’s lead. Talimdzioski’s late finish put paid to any hopes of a Subiaco comeback to seal Perth’s first win since Round 3.

Balcatta 3 (Teece 28’, Sokol 66’, Catarcione 88’)
Inglewood United 1 (Micevski 10’)
Grindleford Reserve
Balcatta claimed their third straight victory over Inglewood with a come-from-behind win in front of their home fans. United midfielder David Micevski took the lead for the away side when he slotted past Clint Davies in goal, only for Cameron Teece to peg Inglewood back with a well-taken header. Both teams created opportunities, Gustavo Catarcione and Scott Witschge coming closest for the hosts and visitors respectively. It took a moment of genius from Balcatta’s Steve Sokol to break the deadlock midway through the second half, when he chested the ball down, evaded two defenders and smashed home a volley. Inglewood piled men forward, but it was in vain, as Catarcione took advantage of an empty net, after ‘keeper Aleks Vrteski ran forward to try and score from a late corner, to stamp out any potential equalizer.

Floreat Athena 4 (Govan 37’, McMahon 45+1’ PEN, Boi 71’, 77’)
Stirling Lions 2 (Micevski 7’, Shuruma 11’)
E & D Litis Stadium
A Ludovic Boi-inspired Floreat came back from two goals down to keep their faint title hopes alive in an exciting derby with Stirling Lions. The home side found themselves facing an uphill battle inside the first 15 minutes, when Daniel Micevski and Laurence Shuruma netted for the Lions. Micevski missed a chance to make it three when he blazed over from Teeboy Kamara’s cutback and the miss proved costly when Blair Govan’s header halved their lead. Athena managed to level before the break, when the referee spotted a handball in the box and captain Lewis McMahon tucked away the penalty. Both teams pressed for a second-half winner, but it was Floreat goalkeeper Fraser Greenwood who made the biggest difference, saving from Kamara before turning away Stirling’s own penalty. Then former-Stirling player Boi took over, calmly rounding the keeper and rolling the ball home with 20 minutes to play, before elegantly chipping the out-rushing ‘keeper Joel Driscoll to complete his brace, along with the comeback. 

Round 16 Fixtures
Balcatta vs Perth SC
Bayswater City vs Cockburn City
Perth Glory vs ECU Joondalup
Stirling Lions vs Armadale
Sorrento vs Inglewood United
Subiaco vs Floreat Athena


Read more..

Liverpool undo Adelaide in pre-season

Adelaide Oval has pumped to the tune of 53,008 fans as Liverpool FC’s Australian tour made its way to the Festival State on Monday Night where they beat Adelaide United 2-0.

But while the crowd might have been pumping the football was not and after a hearty [and typically out of tune] rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone both teams did all they could to ensure the party didn’t get too out of hand.

The game was a stagnant affair as both sides approached the friendly with trepidation; Liverpool keen to ensure its pre-season isn’t hampered with unnecessary hurt and Adelaide happy to sit back and play the counter-attacking game against their superior opponents.


The result was a rather dull experience for the jam-packed Adelaide Oval attendees with the few shots Liverpool had fired either wide or straight at Eugene Galekovic in Adelaide’s goal. On one occasion Jordon Ibe had the goal at his mercy following a Joe Gomez cross but he somehow managed to miss the ball entirely. By half time the best bit of team work on display was from the crowd, which managed to get 50,000 people involved in a Mexican Wave.

On the resumption James Milner eventually opened the scoring after collecting Jordon Ibe’s well-timed cross after 67 minutes. Running towards the penalty spot from the centre of the pitch, the ball was played into his path and found a sliding boot. The touch was enough to get around the ever reliable Eugene Galekovic and give Liverpool the decisive lead.

In the 88th minute Danny Ings put the game to bed after running around Eugene Galekovic having collected Nathaniel Clyne’s through ball with just the keeper the beat. Beat the keeper he did and the friendly was all but over after the tapped in to the open goal.

Credit must be given where it is due and despite the obvious gulf between the two clubs Adelaide United put up a brave performance. Its defending - whilst not always pretty - was relatively effective and although Liverpool was wasteful in the final third a good number of its attempts were thwarted by strong resolution in the Adelaide backline.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rogers said his team is playing good pre-season football and that Australia had been a perfect place to build up to the English Premier League season.

“I’m worried about us working well and working on our tactical areas of the game, so I think the objectives tonight we achieved,” Rogers said.

“I thought our performance was very good tonight against another very well organised team that play excellent football and play with a good notion of the game.

“Adelaide played very well, their movement was good, we had to play tactically a good game to stop them playing out.

“Would be want to come back? It’s been an absolute pleasure to be in Australia... I’d come back here for sure as soon as we possibly could,” he said.

Meanwhile Adelaide boss Josep Gombau was proud of his squad, saying they came up against a much stronger opponent and left with their heads held high.

“I am happy with the way that we played, the opposition is one of the best teams in the world and I think that we played our game. I am happy with the work that the boys did,” Gombau said.

“It is difficult because the ball speed is different. We played our way but normally we have more time to think and to play, and you play against this time of team is less and it’s more difficult.

“Even like this we tried to play from the back, we tried to have our own style and I think we did well until Liverpool had the first go and that’s okay,” he said.

Liverpool’s preseason tour moves to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow before the Premier League season begins next month.

Liverpool FC: 2. Nathaniel Clyne, 6. Dejan Lovren, 7. James Milnerm 12. Joe Gomez (Alberty Moreno 45’), 14. Jordan Henderson (C), 20. Adam Lallana, 22. Simon Mignolet (GK), 24. Jay Allen (Lazar Markovic 95’), 27. Divock Origi (Danny Ings 69’), 33. Jordan Ibe, 37. Martin Skrtel

Adelaide United FC: 1. Eugene Galekovic (C) (GK), 2. Michael Marrone, 4. Dylan McGowan, 5. Osama Malik, 8. Isaias, 9. Sergio Cirio, 10. Marcelo Carrusca (Dylan Smith 90’), 11. Bruce Djite (Pablo Sanchez 67’), 16. Craig Goodwin (Iacopo La Rocca 79’), 18. Jimmy Jeggo (George Mells 72’), 21. Tarek Elrich
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Awer Mabil leaves Adelaide for Denmark

Adelaide United’s explosive midfield Awer Mabil will be leaving his club immediately, having agreed to join Danish club FC Midtjylland for an undisclosed sum.

The Reds confirmed the news in a press release on Monday afternoon just hours before Josep Gombau’s men were to take on English giants Liverpool.

Image provided by Adelaide United.
Mabil made his professional debut for Adelaide United and the pace and creativity he displayed in his time at Hindmarsh led many to believe his time in Australia was limited.

The winger thanked his club and fans in the press release confirming his departure.

“Thank you Adelaide United for allowing me to pursue my dream of playing in Europe for a very strong and ambitious club that sets high standards,” said Mabil.

“A big thank you to my coach Josep Gombau and the rest of the staff at Adelaide United for helping my development as a player and person.

“And of course the fans for being such great fans to play for each week.”

The Danish club to which Mabil is heading are current champions of their domestic competition, the Superligaen, and are currently fighting for a spot in the UEFA Champions League.

Such an opportunity is impressive for the highly regarded 19-year-old, particularly considering he rarely played a full 90 minutes of football under Gombau in the most recent A-League season.

However the transfer may come as a shock to Reds fans, with Mabil telling The Football Sack in April that he planned on honouring his contract with the Reds and establishing himself as a first team player before entertaining thoughts of a move to Europe.

“Personally, I need to establish myself in the league here if I want to have any chance of playing [in Europe],” he said.

“I need to make a name for myself in the A-League, and next year will be very crucial to me and I’ve got to work yard.

“Hopefully I do what I set myself to do, which is to score a lot of goals and achieve in every game, and if I do that I think I’ll be ready to go."

Mabil will leave for his new club on Tuesday and has not been named to take on Liverpool in a friendly later today.
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Tony's plan B-arcelona?

What the signing of Andrés Carrasco means for Popovic and the Wanderers.

It’s hard to believe that only eight months on from masterminding the Wanderers’ historic AFC Champions League title, Tony Popovic’s stock is at a career low.

Once the chief navigator of a smooth-sailing vessel, the manager, approaching his fourth term with Western Sydney, now resides over something of a sinking ship.

Image credit: Western Sydney Wanderers
The club’s continental exploits left a heavy toll on the players who, at the back end of last A-League season, appeared to lose faith in the Popovic system and consequently the man himself.

A mass exodus of the squad ensued and with several key players departing the club in the off-season – including main marksman Tomi Juric and now Socceroo Matthew Spiranovic – Popovic now faces the greatest challenge of his short managerial tenure.

For the first time in their brief history, the Wanderers head into pre-season with more lingering question marks than viable answers. In search of solutions, Popovic has begun his own Spanish inquisition – principally the signing of former Barcelona youth coach Andrés Carrasco.

Opposites attract

The Parramatta-bound Catalan, who also plied his trade at Malaga and Dinamo Tbilisi, has wasted no time in making his intentions clear.

“My goal in this new stage is to help the team to play in the way that all the fans can be proud of,” said Carrasco.

“Personally I love this sport and because of my training and awareness, I love the offensive, attacking football. I firmly believe that football is a show and I like to feel the victory from this standpoint."

His arrival signals an interesting period of transformation at Western Sydney. It’s not the first time someone with famed Barcelona DNA has entered the A-League but it places the Wanderers, still an infantile club mostly carved in Popovic’s image but still searching for a footballing identity, in uncharted waters.

What makes the acquisition of the Spanish assistant coach more intriguing is that at a glance he appears to be quintessentially anti-Popovic, both in ideas and mentality.

A clash in ideologies could be on the cards. The image of Barcelona resonates from Carrasco and naturally, a predisposition for controlled, attacking football - perhaps even classical tiki-taka – can be expected. It’s the complete antithesis of the more pragmatic Popovic, who at his time at the Wanderers has chiseled out a deeply conservative identity.

Popovic’s philosophy began to draw vociferous criticism from all quarters last season despite the ACL success and the disjointed schedule that had a large impact on the mental and physical well-being of his players.

In bringing Carrasco to his side, Popovic has acknowledged first-hand that opposition think-tanks have acclimatised to the Wanderers’ machine-like organisation that has seen them achieve so much in next to no time. His defensively-orientated mentality can stifle creativity (see the absence of a traditional number ten after Shinji Ono), and when the collective team grind is not conducive to gaining a result, his team misses an element of opportunism and ruthlessness.

Historically, Popovic and the Wanderers have been criticised for a dearth in structural flexibility. Complacency was allowed to germinate throughout the squad last season and the Wanderers ended their campaign mired in conservatism. We can only guess how much of an influence Carrasco will be in reshaping the team’s identity but we do know that he represents a big part of Popovic’s rebuilding mission.

More importantly though, it symbolizes a significant moment for Popovic himself.

The disappointment of last season left the Wanderers custodian at a managerial crossroads. The acquisition of Carrasco is an overwhelmingly positive and proactive move and one that is largely out of character for the Wanderers boss.

Popovic, in his time at Parramatta, has epitomised the modern-day authoritarian: he holds an unwavering trust in his ranks to immerse themselves in his regimented structure but has little patience for reluctant compliers.

In recruiting a polar opposite as his assistant we are beginning to see Popovic re-invent himself as a manager. It will be interesting to see how his new Spanish no. 2 further progresses Popovic’s ideological tweaks in the coming months.

It’s easy – fanciful even – for fans of the Red & Black to fetishize Carrasco’s Barcelona roots; he won’t transform Kearyn Baccus into Andres Iniesta. But all evidence suggests that Popovic aims to take the club in a fresh, new direction. At the very least we should anticipate the Wanderers to play with more control and less cynicism in the upcoming season.

Carrasco’s influence could mean a greater emphasis on intelligent use of possession and technical prowess rather than a reactive, soak-and-counter style. Perhaps we will see the Wanderers try to impose themselves upon the opposition rather than basing their approach on limiting the opposition and strangling them out of the game.

A lot of course will depend on the players Popovic will have at his disposal.

Signings hold the key

If we should expect alterations in playing style of the Wanderers, then logically, they will need one or two different players to fit the bill.

The signings of Mitch Nichols and Andreu already indicate a modification in the balance of the midfield, and suggest an emergence of technical proficiency. In Nichols, Popovic has the most versatile attacking component in the Wanderers’ history at his disposal and the governing Andreu should ensure a more cultured use of possession than the often-erratic Iacopo La Rocca.

However, outside these two midfield reinforcements, the squad looks bare and bereft of the players required to overhaul the Wanderers current malaise.

The loss of Matthew Spiranovic comes as a cruel blow, leaving the inexperienced Jonathan Aspro as the only ball-playing central defender available. Meanwhile, the need for an out-and-out goal scorer represents perhaps the biggest task of the transfer period for the Wanderers hierarchy.

Popovic and his new understudy have their work cut out in reviving the Wanderers. It will likely be another tricky season of adjustment for the club as the pair wrestle with their ideas and map out a new way forward. But the Wanderers boss has surely earned the right to take the club in whatever direction he desires and his latest recruit may play a big role in shaping Western Sydney’s foreseeable future.
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NPL WA Round 15 Wrap

With the season almost two-thirds of the way through the ladder is starting to split up. The top three of [the still-undefeated] Bayswater City, Floreat and Perth SC have opened up a five point gap between them and the chasing pack.

Stirling claimed their first win in five games to take 5th spot, whilst Sorrento continued their good form. At the other end of the table it's looking like a three-horse race between Perth Glory, Armadale and ECU Joondalup for the wooden spoon with all three struggling to keep up with the rest of the league.


Bayswater City 2 (Marulanda 14’, Tong 90’)
ECU Joondalup 1 (Montgomery 81’)
Frank Drago Reserve

Perth SC 3 (Ambrogio 14’, 65’, Pritchard 74’ PEN)
Cockburn City 1 (Patterson 80’)
Dorrien Gardens

A Nicholas Ambrogio brace powered Perth to a comfortable victory over Cockburn. Despite a strong start from the visitors, Ambrogio gave the Azzurri the lead on the quarter-hour mark with a composed finish past Curtis Aspden. Liam Murray had a wonderful chance to equalize for the visitors but he couldn’t keep his shot down whilst Aspden kept Perth at bay up the other end. Perth searched for a second goal in a close second-half and they were rewarded when Ambrogio finished off some wonderful work by substitute Frank Furfaro. Eamon McNelis’ handball in the box allowed Mark Pritchard to make it three from the penalty spot before Rory Patterson grabbed a consolation goal for City.

Inglewood United 2 (Awad 14’, Witschge 88’)
Bayswater City 4 (Farrell 17’, Giron Marulanda 21’, Heagney 29’ PEN, 45’)
Inglewood Stadium

A four-goal first half from Bayswater saw them continue their charge towards the title and an undefeated season. Inglewood’s Mohamed Awad gave the hosts the lead with a curling strike but it was all Bayswater from that moment onwards. Brian Farrell latched onto David Heagney’s header to level the scores before Gustavo Giron Marulanda outpaced the defence and beat Aleks Vrteski in goal to take the lead. Heagney then won a controversial penalty and, although Vrteski saved the initial shot, the striker buried the follow-up. The hit man duly made it four on the stroke of half-time when he found space in the area. The second half failed to live up to the excitement of the first and whilst United’s Scott Witschge got himself on the scoreboard late it was a case of too little, too late.

Sorrento 1 (Canham 65’)
Subiaco 0
Percy Doyle Reserve

Sorrento extended their unbeaten streak to six games thanks to Sean Canham’s second-half strike. In a game of few chances, Jack Salter caused Subiaco early problems but he was unable to convert his two early opportunities. Kevin White hit the bar early in the second half as both sides struggled to test each other's goalkeeper. It was left to Canham to score the game’s lone goal when he latched onto a cross and diverted it into the net after a neat counter-attack. White and Iain McMurray came close late to rescuing a point, but the Gulls held on.

Stirling Lions 4 (Kamara 3’, Micevski 32’, Bowden-Hasse 36’, Shuruma 49’)
Perth Glory 2 (Valentini 56’, 67’)
Macedonia Park

A strong first-half performance from Stirling Lions saw them snap their five-game winless run in style. Teeboy Kamara gave the Lions an early lead with a fine strike from the edge of the box and David Micevski doubled their lead after some good work by Laurence Shuruma. Nathan Bowden-Hasse added a third to give the Glory a mountain to climb in the second half. Shuruma seemingly put any hopes of a comeback to bed soon after the break when he reacted quickest to a loose ball in the box. However Stefan Valentini quickly pulled one back before he grabbed another goal ten minutes later to set-up a tense final twenty minutes. Despite some late pressure from Perth the hosts were able to see out the rest of the game with their two-goal buffer intact.

Armadale 0
Floreat Athena 3 (Stynes 31’, Arnold 59’, 82’)
Alfred Skeet Reserve

Floreat kept their title challenge alive with a comprehensive victory away to Armadale. The hosts grabbed the ascendancy early with Jesse Fuller and Faustino Machochi coming closest in the opening exchanges whilst Floreat were foiled by goalkeeper Dylan Wilson. Jon Stynes broke the deadlock for Athena when he rose highest to head home a corner and their lead was extended after the break thanks to Phil Arnold's strike. Despite Armadale testing the visitors, Arnold scored his second late in the piece to ensure the points would be heading to Floreat.

Balcatta 1 (S. Montgomery 61’)
ECU Joondalup 1 (Sammut 70’)
Grindleford Reserve

Balcatta and ECU Joondalup split the points in an even encounter at Grindleford Reserve. ECU goalkeeper Andy Banks, who came out of retirement in the week, was twice called upon early to deny Patrick Quinn whilst Balcatta skipper James Sammut fired narrowly over in the best chance of the first half. ECU’s father-son combination of Stuart and Bayley Montgomery created the first goal of the game when Bayley crossed for his father to fire home. However, ECU’s lead was short-lived as Sammut smashed home nine minutes later to equalize for the visitors. Balcatta enjoyed the better of the final twenty minutes but were unable to capitalize, allowing ECU to escape with a draw.

Round 16 Fixtures (Rivalry Round)
Cockburn City vs Armadale
Floreat Athena vs Stirling Lions
ECU Joondalup vs Sorrento
Balcatta vs Inglewood United
Perth Glory vs Subiaco
Bayswater City vs Perth SC
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