Who Is Walter Pless?

Walter_Pless

A teacher by profession, but is now in his 37th year as a football writer. Has written for "Soccer Action" (Melbourne), "Australian Soccer Weekly" (Sydney) and "World Soccer" (London), as well as for several Tasmanian newspapers. Currently contributing to "Goal!Weekly" in Melbourne and the Australian magazine "Soccer International". Played for Croatia-Glenorchy, Caledonians, Metro, Rapid and University in Tasmania, as well as in the United States of America. Coached University, Metro and Croatia-Glenorchy.

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Pre-season Friendly (KGV Park, Tuesday, 27 July 2010)


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Tasmania 0

Central Coast Mariners 3 (Simon 76, Bozanic 80, Kwasnik 90+2)


HT: 0-0 Att: 1768 Ref: L Laverdure (Victoria)


Tasmania: Pitchford (Kruijver 46) - Pennicott, Iseli, W Abbott, Scott - B Eaves (Roach 46), Marchioli - Brennan (Lo 46), Mann (D Brown 46), Kanakaris - McKenna (Hamlett 60)


Central Coast Mariners: Ryan - Bojic, Griffiths, Wilkinson, Bozanic - Hutchinson, McGlinchey (Porter 78), Lewis (Rose 60) - Mrdja (Kwasnik 68), Perez (Simon 65), McBreen


____________________________________________________


It was like being in Europe again, where football is king. The KGV Park pitch was looking like a football pitch should, and the crowd was excellent. To see spectators all around the perimeter of the pitch and up on the hill at the Glenorchy end of the ground was heart-warming to say the least. Perhaps the official attendance figure was too low, but it certainly matched those of Sunderland’s visit to KGV Park in 1976, and that of the Socceroos at the same venue in the early 1980s.


It was a good night for Tasmanian football. Our team was not disgraced and, with a little more composure inside the box, might even have embarrassed the visitors. Imagine what longer preparation and a few other inclusions may have done.


We certainly lacked the technique of the Mariners, and their passing was crisper and more accurate. But there are other factors to the game and Tasmania lacked nothing in terms of commitment and desire. Tasmania were not overawed and they could hold their heads high at the end. For 76 minutes the home side kept the visitors scoreless, both through good play and good fortune.


When the Mariners brought on their big guns - strikers Matt Simon and Adam Kwasnik - it was evident that they meant business and were tired of being frustrated by the minnows of the island State. With Tasmania tiring, it was just a matter of time before the deadlock was broken and it was Simon and Kwasnik who ultimately brought about the home side’s downfall. They scored a goal apiece and played a huge part in the other goal.


Tasmania almost shocked their opponents in the opening minutes. Andy Brennan found himself in possession with only the goalkeeper to beat but blazed high over the bar. Imagine what a goal at that early stage would have done.


Patricio Perez was pulling the strings for the Mariners in his role just behind the front two of Daniel McBreen and Nik Mrdja and it was he who had their first chance in the 8th minute. His fierce shot was turned onto the woodwork and out for a corner by Tasmania’s goalkeeper, Nathan Pitchford.


The Mariners also went close to scoring in the 10th minute when it required a timely block by Liam Scott to save the situation, after which a Matthew Lewis shot was deflected wide for yet another corner. The Mariners were winning corner after corner at this stage, which indicated the pressure they were applying on the home side.


In the 17th minute, Pitchford was at full stretch diving to his right, but Perez’s shot was always going wide.


The Mariners were using both fullbacks as wide attackers and, in the 23rd minute, Pedj Bojic was released down the right and his cross found Daniel McBreen, but Pitchford denied the striker with a block and conceded yet another corner.


Three minutes before the break, Tasmania had their second chance when Kostas Kanakaris’s low drive almost got a touch from Brennan and the ball was deflected wide for a corner, much to the relief of the Mariners’ defenders.


It was to Tasmania’s credit that the first half ended in a goalless stalemate and they received a standing ovation from the home fans as they trooped off. They had not created much in attack, but they had maintained their composure and poise and had fought tooth and nail to deny their opponents a goal.


Tasmania made four changes at the interval, bringing on Sam Kruijver for Pitchford, and replacing Brennan, Brayden Mann and Bobby Eaves with Jonathon Lo, Tom Roach and Daniel Brown. This meant there were now seven South Hobart players on the pitch and one could expect a little more team-work and understanding from players who had been together all year.


Five minutes into the second half, it almost paid off as Roach delivered a long ball into the box which deceived Mariners goalkeeper Mathew Ryan. Scott found himself in possession and past the keeper, but his tame shot was blocked by the retreating Bojic, who tumbled backwards as he cleared the ball. One was left to ponder on the fact that if Brennan and Scott had taken their chances, the Mariners would have been 2-0 down.


Three minutes later, Mrdja produced an amazing turn and smashed a shot against the Tasmanian crossbar, the ball rebounding into play and focusing the home side’s attention once again on reality and the task at hand.


The introduction of Simon and Kwasnik midway through the half stacked the odds heavily against Tasmania, who brought captain Chris McKenna off and threw on the speedy Ben Hamlett.


Within minutes, however, the Mariners were in front. In the 76th minute, Scott gave the ball away on the half-way line and Bojic gained possession. He fed McBreen, who flicked the ball on for Simon to run at goal and chip the advancing Kruijver from the edge of the box to put the Mariners 1-0 up.


A minute later, Kruijver did well to save a shot from Kwasnik as the Mariners piled on the pressure.


With 10 minutes remaining, substitute Brad Porter released Oliver Bozanic down the left and, although Kruijver blocked his initial shot, Bozanic was first to the rebound and netted clinically to make it 2-0.


Two minutes into stoppage time, Simon’s long pin-point diagonal pass to the left found McBreen, whose cross into the box was nodded home by Kwasnik to complete the scoring.


Victorian referee Lucien Laverdure, who flew over for the match in the afternoon, produced an excellent performance, ably assisted by locals Michael Thain and Simon Natoli. Laverdure was unobtrusive and calm, clear in his directions, and epitomised the saying that the best referee is one who is barely noticed. Both teams also made his job so much easier by playing clean and fair football.


The night was a credit to Football Federation Tasmania, both sets of players, supporters and sponsors, and the Central Coast Mariners club. Football truly was the winner.


_____________________________________________________


· Tasmania coach, Steve Payne, said:


“I thought it was a fantastic performance by the Tasmanian team.


“If you think that the Central Coast Mariners didn’t score until the last 15 minutes, I thought we played a fantastic game.


“Our defence was very good, we kept the ball on the ground, we were playing it around at the back, we were playing good football, we were trying to play it forward, we were obviously up against professional players who have played eight games and we got these boys together in 10 days and had two training sessions which weren’t really training sessions but more like selection camps, and I think for them to go out and perform in the way they did was fantastic.


“I couldn’t be more proud of them.


“I mean, we might even have scored in the first couple of minutes, and there was a few other half-chances.


“But, I think in the last 15 minutes, you saw the difference, you know, between a team that’s playing in one division and another team that’s playing at a professional level. Their speed didn’t change in the last 15 minutes and we started to tire out a bit.


“I think it’s fantastic. The crowd was great, the atmosphere was good, and the boys were pleased as punch. Everybody was up for the game and I think we did ourselves proud and I think we proved we’ve got good players in Tasmania and things can happen down here if we go in the right direction and I think tonight was the right direction. Six weeks together, and I think we can take them on again no problems.”


· Central Coast Mariners coach, Graham Arnold, said:


“The first half was very sloppy, but I expected that after the Melbourne Victory [game] on Sunday. Forty-eight hours after a game is normally when players are most likely to be flat.


“So, we made quite a few changes, but we expected that in the first half, but you would have hoped it wouldn’t have been so sloppy. You know, quite casual [and] passing was off.


“But, overall, it was a good hit-out. We got some combinations going and that’s why it’s good to play games because, as I said to you the other day, we’ve got six or seven new players in the team and it’s good to play games rather than train.


“[The Tasmanians] put up a very good show. Some good young boys there. I think that, overall, they can be very proud of their performance. If anything, probably our fitness ran over the top of them because we’ve been training for a long while. On the other side of the coin, I think that our boys, you know, it’s been a pretty long pre-season and they just want a good start to the A-League and they’re looking after themselves and being careful with no injuries and that. But, the Tasmanians can be very proud of their performance.


“Perez [who went off in the 65th minute] is okay. We’ve worked him hard and he played his first game for us against Melbourne the other day for over 70 minutes, so he pushed himself to the limit there. He wanted to play tonight as far as he could. It was only a slight cramp, but he’s fine. He’s going to be an exciting player for the A-League.


“Matt Simon and Kwasnik have got good mobility and good movement. Simon played a little deeper and he can be a handful.


“In the last 20 minutes I thought, at times, we played a little too negatively and the ball was going backwards a lot of times when you can play it forward, and I don’t mean by thumping it long. The option in transition is to play it short and play it forward and to try and catch the other team on the break.”

Central Coast Mariners beat Tasmania 3-0 before a crowd of 1,768 at KGV Park this evening, but it took the A-League side 76 minutes to break the deadlock.


Tasmania put up a plucky performance and had several chances to score.


The opening half was goalless, but Tasmania may well have led by that stage as Andy Brennan twice missed good chances.


The Mariners played neat possession football and forced several corners, but they were unable to break down the resolute Tasmanian defence.


Patricio Perez was at the heart of most of the Mariners’ moves, but the front runners, Daniel McBreen and Nik Mrdja were unable to capitalise on his passes, as well as the openings created by Oliver Bozanic, Matthew Lewis and Michael McGlinchey.


Will Abbott and Marc Iseli played valiantly at the heart of the Tasmanian defence, while Liam Scott and Jim Pennicott did well in pushing forward down the flanks.


Nathan Pitchford was reliable in goal and turned a Perez shot against the bar and out for a corner in the 8th minute, while in the 23rd minute, he did well to block a shot from McBreen.


Tasmania made four changes at half-time, bringing on keeper Sam Kruijver, as well as Tom Roach, Jonathon Lo and Daniel Brown for Pitchford, Brayden Mann, Bobby Eaves and Brennan. Ben Hamlett replaced Chris McKenna on the hour.


It may be the last time local fans see Hamlett for a while as he leaves for the United States tomorrow to take up a soccer scholarship at an American college.


Scott missed a great chance to score for the home side in the 50th minute after Mariners’ goalkeeper Mathew Ryan failed to deal with a Tom Roach ball into the box, but his shot was tame and Bozanic managed to block the effort.


Mrdja hit the bar in the 53rd minute as Tasmania began to wilt, but it was not until the 76th minute that the Mariners finally got the breakthrough they had been seeking.


Shortly before that, they had brought on their big guns, with strikers Matt Simon and Adam Kwasnik replacing Perez and Mrdja.


In the 76th minute, Scott gave the ball away in midfield and Bojic gained possession and fed McBreen. He released Simon down the inside-right channel and the striker chipped the ball over the advancing Kruiver and into the net.


Kruijver saved well from Kwasnik in the 77th minute, but three minutes later he could only parry Bozanic’s shot, after a pass from Brad Porter had put the striker through on the left, and Bozanic swept home the loose ball to make it 2-0.


In stoppage time, Simon found McBreen on the left and his cross was headed home by Kwasnik to complete the scoring.


Victorian referee Lucien Laverdure did an excellent job in the middle, ably assisted by Tasmanian’s Michael Thain and Simon Natoli.





















A-League Friendly (Aurora Stadium, Launceston, Sunday, 25 July 2010)


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Melbourne Victory 0

Central Coast Mariners 0


Att: 4,670 Ref: K Docherty


Melbourne Victory: Petkovic (Mattei 75) - Leijer, Muscat (Franjic 75), Vargas, Berger (Foschini 46) - Sukha (Ferreira 32), Brebner (Ward 71), Broxham (Celeski 65), Kruse - Dugandzic (Angulo 63), Pondeljak[Coach: Ernie Merrick]


Central Coast Mariners: Van Strattan - Porter, Wilkinson, Zwaanswijk, Rose - McGlinchey, Hutchinson, Bozanic (Lewis 80) - Perez (Mrdja 71), Simon, Kwasnik (McBreen 46) [Substitutes not used: Griffiths, Doig, Ryan] [Coach: Graham Arnold]


_________________________________________________


Melbourne Victory should have taken the lead after a mere 4 minutes when Mate Dugandzic put Tommy Pondeljak through for a one-on-one with the keeper, but the agile Jess Van Strattan saved with an outstretched hand and conceded a fruitless corner.


Four minutes later, Victory’s Leigh Broxham brought a gasp from the crowd as he flashed a long-range free-kick just wide of Van Strattan’s right-hand post.


It was all Victory for most of the first half. They played some neat inter-passing football in midfield but lacked penetration up front.


In the 25th minute, fullback Evan Berger fired a long-range effort straight at Van Strattan.


Van Strattan again showed his class when, in the 29th minute, he foiled Dugandzic as he threatened to break the deadlock.


Victory’s Thailand international Surat Sukha was replaced after only 32 minutes. Coach Ernie Merrick had asked him to play the first half and test his hamstrings, but Sukha felt tightness and thought it best to go off.


The Mariners thought they had taken the lead 5 minutes before the interval when Adam Kwasnik headed home a Patricio Perez free-kick, but Miss Hanna Manuela’s flag was raised for off-side.


The Mariners had a much better second half and in the 56th minute Perez found Matt Simon with a pass but the striker’s shot was miscued and it flew wide for a goal-kick.


They went close in the 61st minute when central defender Patrick Zwaanswijk picked out substitute Daniel McBreen, but Victory goalkeeper Michael Petkovic, called into action for the first time, just managed to scoop the ball up in time at McBreen’s feet.


A flurry of substitutions midway through the second half disrupted the flow of play somewhat, but in the 74th minute a great free-kick by substitute Billy Celeski found Pondeljak, who forced yet another save from Van Strattan and a fruitless corner.


Fifteen minutes from the end, Petkovic made way for substitute keeper Sebastian Mattei as Victory made their seventh substitution of the match.


Victory regained the initiative in the closing ten minutes and, in the 82nd minute, Pondeljak should have done better than shoot high over the bar from Celeski’s astute pass.


With 4 minutes remaining, McBreen wasted a chance for the Mariners as he blazed high and wide from an acute angle on the left.


A minute from the end, Robbie Kruse laid the ball off from the left for Nick Ward, but the substitute shot high over the bar.


The last chance fell to Victory in stoppage time, but Marvin Angulo almost hit the top of the floodlights with a skied shot.


___________________________________________________


· Melbourne Victory coach, Ernie Merrick, said:


“We got a lot out of the game.


“I thought it was a good-quality game and it’s a credit to the Mariners that they played open football as well. They played with three strikers and we played with two-and-a-half. We tried to get someone to come through from midfield quite a lot, Tommy Pondeljak.


“So, there was some good interplay. The only thing that didn’t happen, which every game needs, is goals.


“Towards the end of the game, I thought that some of our youngsters created some really good chances.


“What impressed me most about our boys was our defending was rock solid, and our inter-passing in midfield was back to where it should be.


“It’s just that final strike on target that we need to work on. We’re a bit light on for strikers.


· Central Coast Mariners coach, Graham Arnold, said:


“It was a good game. It’s always good to gauge ourselves against one of the best teams in the league and probably the most successful team in the history of the A-League at the moment.


“I think we learned a few lessons, but overall, I was very happy.


“I thought in the first half we were too deep. The space between the midfield and defence was far too deep and gave Melbourne too much room to play.


“In the second half, that improved enormously and we pretty much didn’t give them many chances until the last five minutes.”


· Central Coast captain, Alex Wilkinson, said:


“It was a friendly a couple of weeks from the season so it was good first and foremost to get fitness out of us, for both us and Victory.


“For the first half, we were probably stretched out a bit as a team. We let them have too much possession in midfield, I thought.


“We tried to rectify that in the second half and we played a tighter and more compact game and we probably had a few more chances as well.


“All in all, it was a good hit-out.”







Intrastate Youth Match (Aurora Stadium, Launceston, Sunday, 25 July 2010)


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Northern Tasmania Under-20s 1 (Hughes 67)

Southern Tasmania Under-20s 6 (Holmes 4, Brennan 32, 65, 68, K Engels 51, Hill 70 og)


HT: 0-2 Att: 200 Ref: P Galloway


Northern Tasmania Under-20s: Smith - Chilcott, Kolodjashnij, Cuschieri, Bart - Denehey, Hughes, Beard, Johnson - Mann, Sessay [Substitutes: Rigby, Douce, Moores, Lanau-Atkinson, Hill] [Coach: Mitchell Billing]


Southern Tasmania Under-20s: Sweeney - Scott, Holmes, J Huigsloot, K Engels - Bevan, Atkinson, S McIntyre, Abbott - Bremner, Brennan [Substitutes: Cronk, Leszczynski, Marshall, Nandan, Voss] [Coach: Nick Lapolla]


___________________________________________________


The Southerners took an early lead and might easily have have been more than 2-0 up at the interval.


Although they got a goal back in the second half, the Northerners were never in the hunt and conceded four more goals in the second half, including an own-goal. Their thinking at the back often seemed as foggy and groggy as the conditions at Aurora Stadium.


The Northerners’ defence looked shaky and the goalkeeper lacked confidence and was erratic, which paved the way for some of the visitors’ goals.


Both teams had limited preparation for this match and a return game would be a useful exercise.


Matthew Sessay presented the greatest danger to the South, while Brayden Mann and Adam Beard were also prominent when the home side did attack.


Andy Brennan, who had played the previous day for South Hobart in the 2-1 win over New Town Eagles, netted a hat-trick for the Southerners but should have had more goals.


His finishing was a little erratic, exemplified by his third goal. Facing an open goal, he somehow contrived to hit the crossbar. Fortunately for him, the ball rebounded to his feet and he stroked it home.


But, Brennan is still young and has much to learn. There is no question, however, that he has had an impact at senior level this season and possesses the talent to develop into a fine player.


David Abbott provided a threat down the left flank for the Southerners and his crosses were always dangerous after he had beaten his man down the line.


Alex Holmes was reliable at the back, while Liam Scott and Kurt Engels repeatedly attacked down the flanks and put enormous pressure on the opposing midfield and defence.


It was Holmes who put the South ahead after just four minutes, with heavy fog still enveloping the ground and making the view from the stands less than satisfactory.


In the 6th minute, Abbott cracked a great shot against the crossbar as the Northerners fought to contain their opponents.


In the 21st minute, a Marcus Atkinson foul on Sam Hughes resulted in a free-kick and a ‘goal’ to the North, but the effort was disallowed through off-side.


Sessay should have scored in the 25th minute when Brayden Mann attacked down the right and his low cross was fumbled by Cameron Sweeney. But, the North striker mis-kicked and the chance evaporated before his eyes, just as the fog was doing at long last.


Two minutes later, the Southerners went close as Jacob Huigsloot headed Scott’s corner over the bar.


The Southerners increased their lead in the 32nd minute with a fine counter-attack. Huigsloot released Abbott down the flank and he left his marker sprawled on the ground and crossed low for Brennan to score a simple goal and make it 2-0.


Brennan almost had another in the 35th minute after the Northerners’ keeper failed to deal with Engels’s left-wing cross, but the youngster fired over the bar.


In the 39th minute, Engels played a fine ball to Brennan, but his first touch let him down. He pushed the ball a little too far ahead of him and the goalkeeper managed to reach it. But, he made a complete hash of it and gifted the ball back to Brennan, whose follow-up shot was turned wide for a corner by the keeper, who had redeemed himself with that save.


But, the keeper again did poorly in going for the corner and it was only a timely save on the line by Luke Kolodjashnij which prevented the Southerners from scoring.


Engels made it 3-0 six minutes after the break when he beat the keeper from just inside the box with a firm strike.


Brennan added the fourth before Hughes pulled a goal back for the home side midway through the second half.


Brennan made hard work of his third and the Southerners’ fifth shortly after, while the rout was completed in the 70th minute when Brennan’s shot was turned into his own net by the unfortunate substitute Chris Hill.


_____________________________________________________


· Northern Tasmania coach, Mitchell Billing, said:


“I thought the standard of the game from both teams was really good.


“Both had a great desire to get the ball forward and they retained possession well and then moved forward.


“It came down to the second half when we made individual mistakes which cost us the goals, which was the disappointing thing.”


· Southern Tasmania coach, Nick Lapolla, said:


“I think, given that we only had one training session, I was very happy with the way we played.


“The passing was crisp and we got around the back of them and our possession was very good.


“It’s good to see a bunch of promising youth players that are the future of Tasmania. They played well.”