Who Is Walter Pless?

Walter_Pless

A teacher by profession, but is now in his 38th 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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Photos: Andrew Telega (top) was Tilford Zebras' best-and-fairest player, while Jayden Welch (bottom) was the club's Players' Player-of-the-Year [PlessPix]

Andrew Telega, the captain and central defender of Tilford Zebras, won the club’s senior best-and-fairest award at the trophy presentation dinner on Saturday night.

Striker-cum-midfielder Jayden Welch was the players’ player-of-the-year, while defender Jordan Muller won the ‘Most Promising Youth’ Award.

In the reserves, Toby McGregor was named as the best-and-fairest player and the players’ player-of-the-year.

Adam Lapolla was the Under-19s’ best-and-fairest player, while the players’ player-of-the-year award was a tie between Adam Lapolla and Ethan Engels.

Ethan Engels was the club’s leading marksman with 31 goals.

Taylor Thomas was the Premier League Women’s best-and-fairest player and she shared the players’ player-of-the-year award with Kelsie Minty.

Steph Cesile was the Premier Women’s Reserves best-and-fairest player and also the players’ player-of-the-year.

Hayley Fitzgerald received the ‘Most Improved’ accolade.

Sandy Chishom was named as Tilford Zebras’ ‘Club Person of the Year’, while Phil Sutton was the ‘Member of the Year’.

A-League

Wellington Phoenix 2-2 Melbourne Heart

Gold Coast United 0-0 Adelaide United

English Premier League

Everton 2 (Cahill, Arteta) beat Liverpool 0

Blackpool 2-3 Manchester City

Serie A

Cagliari 0-1 Inter

Dutch Eredivisie

FC Groningen 1-0 SC Heerenveen

Roda Kerkrade 4-1 Vitesse Arnhem

Willem II Tilburg 2-4 PSV Eindhoven


Photo: North Korea players help Jong Il Gwan (No. 16) celebrate his hat-trick and winning goal [Photo courtesy of World Sports Group]

Australia threw away the final of the Asian Football Confederation Under-19 title this morning [Australia Eastern Summer Time] when they lost 3-2 to North Korea at the Zibo Sports Centre Stadium in China.

In the last minute of the match, goalkeeper Mark Birighitti dropped an easy cross straight to the feet of Jong Il Gwan, who chipped the ball into an empty net to complete his hat-trick and give his side the title.

Australia had trailed to a 10th-minute opener by Il Gwan, who picked the ball up in midfield after an Australian error, and beat three defenders before firing home from close range.

Australia fought back in style, with Matthew Leckie on the right and Tommy Oar on the left causing havoc in the North Korean rearguard with their scintillating runs and dangerous crosses.

The Australians were excellent and much more pleasing on the eye than the senior Socceroos and in the 19th minute they almost equalised when Mustafa Amini had a chance, but his effort flew over the bar.

The excellent Kerem Bulut equalised for Australia in the 25th minute when he headed home Oar’s precise left-wing cross.

Four minutes later, and with Australia displaying outstanding technique and team play, Bulut put them ahead. Oar made an amazing run down the inside-left channel and beat three defenders before having his shot blocked by the North Korea keeper. The ball fell perfectly for Bulut, who stroked it home.

But, instead of pressing home their advantage, Australia relaxed and gave away the initiative.

North Korea coach Yun Jong-su threw caution to the wind and, in a sign of desperation, brought on all three of his substitutes in the space of five minutes, between the 33rd and 38th minute marks.

The bold move paid off, however, as Il Gwan equalised two minutes before the interval. Australia again lost possession in midfield and Daniel Bowles allowed Il Gwan to race past him down the left and score from 11 metres with a shot that went under Dylan McGowan and bounced past Birighitti and into the net.

Australia should have regained the lead in the 68th minute when Oar played the ball wide to the right to set up Amini, but he somehow blazed wide.

In the 75th minute, Bulut should have hit the target from Oar’s left-wing cross, but the striker headed wide.

Two controversial substitutions by Australia coach Jan Versleijen then helped seal Australia’s fate.

In the 78th minute, he took off Terry Antonis and brought on Rhyan Grant, who could not do a thing right for the remainder of the match. A minute after coming on, his first pass conceded possession to North Korea, who mounted a dangerous attack that could have resulted in a goal.

With 9 minutes remaining, Versleijen replaced the hard-working goalscorer Bulut with Sunderland’s Matthew Fletcher and with that went any chance Australia might have had of taking the game into extra-time.

In the final minute came Birighitti’s fatal blunder and one of the two players in the game who had scored twice to set the match alight and were on for a hat-trick did just that. The other, of course, had departed the arena.

Earlier this year, the Matildas had won Australia’s first-ever international trophy by beating North Korea 3-2.

The Australian Under-19 men’s team were unable to repeat the performance against opponents from the same country, but they showed that several of their players who are active in Europe and the A-League may be worth a chance in Holger Osieck’s senior Socceroos.

Melbourne Victory 3-0 Sydney FC

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Sydney FC definitely are in crisis now after losing 3-0 to Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium last night.

The reigning champions have yet to win a game in 10 outings this season and must surely be out of the running for a place in the finals. They are most unlikely to be able to defend their title as they have a mere 4 points and are in last place.

Melbourne Victory are fifth on the ladder, 8 points adrift of leaders Adelaide United and with just 3 wins to their credit.

Victory coach Ernie Merrick used an adventurous 3-4-3 formation, with Kevin Muscat covering markers Adrian Leijer and Rodrigo Vargas.

It paid off against a Sydney outfit that tried to used width and get behind the Victory defence but failed miserably. Whenever they did get the ball out wide on the edge of the box, they invariably played it back to a supporting player to cross the ball. By that time, Melbourne had more players back in defence and dealt with the cross, if it ever came, easily.

Sydney’s wide players were simply incapable of taking defenders on down the line, beating their man, and crossing the ball into the box, which meant Victory’s defensive duties were made so much easier and the ploy of playing just three at the back worked like a charm.

Melbourne’s paucity of left-footed attacking players is a worry. That was evident as early as the 10th minute when Carlos Hernandez found room on the left of the box and powered a left-footed shot against the crossbar when he should really have scored. Had the chance fallen to him on the right of the box, and had he therefore been able to use his right foot, he would surely have hit the back of the net.

A minute later, Alex Brosque managed a rare shot from the left for Sydney, but Michael Petkovic saved at the near post.

Victory went ahead in the 20th minute after a free-kick from wide on the left. Hernadez floated a right-footed cross into the box and Vargas outjumped Sebastian Ryall and beat Liam Reddy with his header.

Sydney’s next chance did not come until 5 minutes before the break, but Petkovic was able to deal with Shannon Cole’s powerful drive from the midfield, diving full length to his left to turn the ball wide for a corner.

A magnificent pass by Hernandez in the 42nd minute put Ricardinho clear in the inside-left channel, but his shot lacked power and the ball rolled past the far right-hand post.

Three minutes after the resumption, Hernandez made it 2-0 for the home side with his first goal of the current campaign. Tom Pondeljak crossed from the left and Hernandez nodded the ball past an unprotected Reddy from close range.

Nicky Carle came on in place of captain Stuart Musialik in the 51st minute, but he was unable to help his side regain the lost ground.

Pondeljak should have killed off Sydney in the 56th minute after being set up perfectly by Kruse’s inviting pass from the left, but Reddy turned his shot wide for a corner.

Similarly, Vargas missed a glorious chance 8 minutes from the end when he won an uncontested header from a corner but directed the ball over the bar.

Sydney should have pulled a goal back in the 83rd minute from Cole’s corner, but Bruno Cazarine’s header was brilliantly saved by Petkovic.

With a minute remaining, Kruse was put away on the left by Pondeljak after a lightning Melbourne counter-attack and he raced into the box before firing low past Reddy, the ball going into the net off the inside of the far right-hand post to make it 3-0.

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Melbourne Victory (3-4-3): Petkovic - Leijer, Muscat, Vargas - Dugandzic (Kellaway 65), Celeski (Angulo 88), Brebner, Pondeljak - Ricardinho (Broxham 69), Hernandez, Kruse [Substitute not used: Mattei]

Booked: Celeski 58

Goals: Vargas 20, Hernandez 48, Kruse 89

Sydney FC (4-3-3): Reddy - Cole, Kelleer, Ryall, Sung-Hwan (Foxe 78) - McFlynn, Musialik (Carle 51), Moriyasu - Brosque, Bridge, Cazarine [Substitute not used: Necevski]

Booked: Jamieson 90

Att: 17,299

Ref: B Williams