Armadale: Into 2016
Report by Jonathan Cook
Infographic: Adrian Petrilli
Armadale coach Paul Price is aiming for a dramatic swing in fortunes this season and the early signs have been good.
Propelled by the attacking influence of English imports Alex Salmon and Ellis Healing, Armadale ploughed through the QBE Night Series to reach the semi-finals where they gave PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues WA Champions Bayswater City an almighty scare.
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Eventually, Chris Coyne’s side prevailed, 4-3, but only after Salmon had underlined his credentials with an inspired performance and three goals.
By that stage of the tournament, Armadale had come to expect goals from their new pair, who had arrived at the club through a friendship with injured striker Danny Hodgson and many emails exchanged with Price.
The initial approach had been to Salmon but a double deal was the eventual outcome.
“For a 21-year-old lad to come to Australia and be away from his family for a long time, to give up semi-pro football over there, it’s a big step,” Price said. “But he wanted the adventure and I think he’s totally delighted he’s come over.”
The delight goes both ways and Price and his assistant, Tony Castiello, were quick to reassess their targets after the pair’s arrival.
“When you’ve finished bottom two years on the spin you start by saying you don’t want to get relegated but we’re not just looking at that,” Price said. “We’re here to try for more than that.”
Armadale’s fortunes may have been pinned on the imports, but Price is confident there is more than a double barrel in his side’s weaponry.
He sees great signs in Jake Sardelic, who was the club’s young player of the year in 2015, and Banin Hashem, who has stepped up from the amateur ranks. A great deal will also be expected of Jesse Fuller, who has previously been at Sorrento and Cockburn.
Armadale have also retained some of those battle-hardened by recent seasons, such as Caleb Dixon, Rave Kuppusamy and Sam Loveless.
The mix has excited Price, while contributing to a shift in thinking at the club.
“There isn’t anyone that frightens us. We won’t go into any game feeling inferior,” the coach said.
“Last season, the players were going into games expecting to get beat. Now the players are feeling confident.”
The key, according to Price, is home form.
“Armadale used to have that reputation that people didn’t like going down there,” he said. “We need to start getting that reputation again.”