Match of the Round
Weston Bears v Maitland Magpies
Sunday 3rd June, 2:30 pm at Rockwell Automation Park
It’s this year’s second edition of the Coalfields derby, dubbed the ‘El Classicoal’, and it promises to be as fiery as ever.
The home side comes into this match off the back of two defeats in Hamilton in their last two matches, one in the league and another in the cup. They sit ninth, and a four-point gap between them and eighth threatens to widen this weekend.
Maitland is on the road in the search of three points that could potentially put them back into the top four. Last weekend’s draw put them out of the finals positions for the first time this season since round three.
Round one this season was the last time these two sides met, and a late surge from Maitland seen them score two goals in the final ten minutes to snatch a 2-1 victory from the jaws of defeat.
In fact, since Maitland was promoted to the top tier in 2015 they’ve only lost to Weston once. In three matches at home against the Magpies, Weston has only taken a single point away.
Goals are something which Weston has had to fight for so far this season, and they’ve scored 15 in their 10 matches this season. It’s the equal-second lowest output in the league, and given Maitland’s defensive structure it may be a tall order this weekend.
That defensive structure last weekend made Maitland the first team this year to keep Broadmeadow at bay in last Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Magic Park. It could well have been a 1-0 victory though if only Ryan Clarke had finished the game’s only clear-cut chance late in injury time.
In fact, the defence has been a positive feature of Maitland’s game this season and they’ve conceded just 13 goals in ten matches. Magic coach Ruben Zadkovich praised the way midfielders Matt Thompson and Andrew Swan screened the defence last weekend.
That experience will prove tough to break down for Weston, who welcome back coach Steve Piggott to the technical area after he served a three-match ban for match official abuse. Kew Jaliens has stood in while Piggott served his ban as the former Dutch international edges closer to a return to the pitch.
FFA Cup is something which neither of these sides has to contend with, which means they’ll each have the upcoming long weekend away from the pitch. For both Weston and Maitland, going into that period with a win under their belts would be invaluable.
Edgeworth Eagles v Lambton Jaffas
Saturday 2nd June, 2:30 pm at Jack McLaughlan Oval
The reigning premiers meet the reigning champions once more, this time at Jack McLaughlan Oval and with it all to play for.
The last time these two sides met it took a 93rd minute goal to declare Lambton the victors in a stunning tit-for-tat battle which ended 4-3 Jaffas. It was the fourth time in the last five matches that Lambton has beat Edgeworth.
Edgeworth is for a clinical touch after a late Will Bower goal secured a 1-0 victory over Valentine last weekend. It could have been five goals by half-time had the Eagles been ruthless in front of goal, a fact which coach Damien Zane lamented in the aftermath of the victory.
That clinical touch might be something which Lambton look for this weekend also. A 2-1 win over Lakes on Saturday consisted of two goals in the first half, but a Pat Brown shot in the second half hit the crossbar and a number of other chances went begging.
There are only two goals which separate the goal differences between the two teams this weekend. Edgeworth has scored 20 and conceded 12, while Lambton has also scored 20 but conceded 14. A third of Edgeworth’s conceded goals this season came in the opening round against Lambton.
There is quality aplenty among both sides this weekend, but the key Lambton men to watch at the top end of the pitch are undoubtedly Ryan Griffiths and Braedyn Crowley, who have six and four goals respectively. The latter has played just league four matches and is currently scoring at a rate of one goal a game.
Combinations up front are starting to solidify between Edgeworth’s two front men Daniel McBreen and Jamie Byrnes, who have themselves four and five goals respectively. That experience, especially McBreen’s, will be invaluable this weekend.
There’s a long way to go in the season, but this match is shaping as a real ‘six-pointer’ for both sides. An Edgeworth win would send them seven points clear of Lambton and ensure they stay at the top, whereas a Lambton win would trim the gap to just a point and blow things open in the race for the premiership.
What the coaches said
Damien Zane (Edgeworth)
“The form book goes out the window when we play Lambton. We expect to be taking on the competition favourites, they’ve got the best squad on paper so we’re not going to look into their injuries. We’ve all got injuries, it’s about dealing with them and they’ve got experienced players and I’m sure we’ll get up for this match, no problem at all.
“We’re expecting it to be tight, a lot of intensity, we won’t be taking it easy but we’ve been travelling okay and improving each week ourselves. It’s a game that we want to win, and hopefully, it’d set us up for the second half of the year. I’m sure Lambton will come out and get up for this match a bit easier, it’s a big clash and it’s another game that we want to win.
“The last two weeks, we’ve had probably one recognised first grader on the bench so we’ve been dealing with our own injuries. Mitch Dobson (futsal), Liam Spurway and Aaron Oppedisano (injury) are all back in the mix, Dylan Holz continues to look better and better each week so we’re hoping to build him up for the back half of the year.”
Adamstown Rosebud v Newcastle Jets Youth
Sunday 3rd June, 2:30 pm at Adamstown Oval
Back at Adamstown Oval for the first time since the start of May, one of the league’s most in-form sides returns from the bye with a huge task ahead.
Adamstown was the location for the last clash between these two sides, which was a 2-all draw way back in round one. It was the only point which Adamstown picked up in the first four rounds.
Speaking of points, the Jets Youth nabbed three last weekend at Charlestown against the heavyweights through a gritty performance. The 1-0 win was the typical type of mentality which Lawrie McKinna and Labinot Haliti are attempting to instil in some of Newcastle’s best and brightest.
Tough slogs and three points are fast becoming synonymous with Adamstown too, with gutsy wins over big boys Edgeworth and Lambton just two of the four victories they amassed prior to the bye.
It was that run which propelled them from just two points and eleventh place after six rounds to now 14 points and sixth place after ten games played. Adamstown is just four points away from the top four – near unimaginable after a horror start to the year.
Jets Youth have done similarly this season, albeit a yo-yo of results. They haven’t yet strung together back-to-back victories, but have won four and currently sit on 13 points and in eighth place.
This weekend shapes as an interesting tactical battle between two sides who have preferred the counter-attack this season. Jets Youth used it to devastating effect last weekend and Adamstown have fine-tuned their approach as the season has progressed.
More goals will be the order of the day for both sides this weekend. Adamstown boasts just 12 goals this season while Jets Youth has 15 – the second and equal-third worst outputs in the league respectively. Kent Harrison has six goals for Jets Youth and Connor Heydon five for Adamstown – they’re key up front this weekend.
What the coaches said:
Shane Cansdell-Sherriff (Adamstown)
“Jets Youth are a well-organised side, a good footballing side, they’ve got a lot of energy and enthusiasm… there are players all over that team that can hurt us and we’ve got to respect that, there are good players and they’re the players of the future.
“We’ve changed in various different ways since we played them in round one, we’ve come together a little bit better now as a team and we understand each other better and work as a team now rather than individuals… hopefully, we can work together and get the result that we want.
“The boys spent the weekend off bonding, they had a good weekend together which is great. The atmosphere and the team spirit amongst the boys is great considering where we’ve come from, such a young new group has come a long way. We’ve come back this week and it’s training as usual.”
Labinot Haliti (Jets Youth)
“Adamstown has won their last four, they’ve got a coach who’s played at a top level and they’re getting good results so it’s just like any other game where we have to make sure we turn up and respect them, but not fear them. It’s going to be a good game, we come in from a win and they’ve had four wins and a bye.
“Building confidence is a process that leads from one game to another, the win last weekend is a big plus and we had obviously a very young squad so it’s good to get a win. It’s important that we are competitive, that we do perform and that we try to be in matches and try to stay in them, not just throw them away.
“We had three or four weeks where we had a few injuries and we were very light on bodies, we started hitting some form at the wrong time with injuries. Since we’ve come back from Hong Kong, it was a good trip and we’ve got a few more coming back (from injury)… there are some boys who were a bit lighter through the week, but we’re all good with injuries.”
Charlestown City Blues v Hamilton Olympic
Sunday 3rd June, 2:30 pm at Lisle Carr Oval
It’s Old Boys Day at Lisle Carr Oval on Sunday, and the Blues will want a hearty crowd behind them as they look to return to form.
Two goals from former Olympic man Scott Smith helped Charlestown take the spoils in a 3-2 win back in round one of this season. It set the Blues on their upward trajectory, and they’ll be looking for a similar boost this weekend.
The form which shot Charlestown to first place has evaded them in the past weeks, and they’ve now just four points from their last four league matches. Their most recent outing was that defeat to Jets Youth on Sunday, an 80th-minute goal condemning them to a 1-0 defeat.
Hamilton has had a much kinder time in their last four. They’ve taken nine points from those matches, including a win over Lambton and defeat to Magic. Last weekend saw them escape with all three points in a 2-1 win over Weston which they could have tied up earlier than the 84th-minute goal which won it.
In a welcome boost this weekend, Olympic welcome back Simon Mooney and Scott Pettit after they served mandatory one-match suspensions for yellow card accumulation. Rhys Cooper also returned last weekend after spending time with the Australian futsal team in Spain.
Key men in Kane Goodchild and Riley McNaughton remain out for Charlestown, but there were positive signs last weekend as Daniel Minors got through 60 minutes in his return from a calf injury. Zac Lloyd is also nearing closer to a return to the pitch.
Lisle Carr Oval has been a happy hunting ground for Olympic, and they haven’t lost there since Charlestown returned to the top flight in 2012. Of the six matches the two have played at Whitebridge since then, Olympic has won four and drawn two.
First place is potentially on the line for Charlestown, and they’ll be determined to ascend given they blew the chance to sit equal on top last weekend. Hamilton could move one place up the ladder to sixth, and go within just two points of the top four after an underwhelming start to the year.
What the coaches said:
Peter McGuinness (Hamilton)
“It’ll be a very tough game, Charlestown hasn’t picked up too many points of late and they’ll be looking to pick up points and continue on from the good first round of the season they had.
“In round one they were probably not as fit as what they are now, and they’ve also got some combinations going because they’re a relatively new group together. They’ve probably got a lot more cohesion than what they had at the start.
“Simon Mooney and Scott Pettit will both add some speed to the team, which will be good on our behalf because they’re always looking to get in behind defences. That will help us and probably allow us a little bit more space than what we’ve had without them.
“Stuey (Musalik) played a bit of time in the 20s last weekend which was good, but we’re not sure on Jarryd Sutherland. He picked up a knock last weekend at Weston, and we’re hoping he’ll be okay.”
Broadmeadow Magic v Lake Macquarie City
Sunday 3rd June, 2:30 pm at Magic Park
Things are dire at the bottom and it’s looking more and more like a two-horse race for last place – Lakes have a lot of work to do in order to move away from Valentine and could potentially jump into ninth with a win on Sunday.
Back in round one, Magic hit Lakes for six. Four from James Virgili and two from Kale Bradbury secured a stunning 6-0 Broadmeadow win on an extremely hot day at Macquarie Field.
Unsurprisingly, those two men now lead the goal-scoring charts with eight goals apiece. If awards were handed out now Virgili would pip Bradbury to the golden boot given he’s played one less game (nine), but they’re not and the focus for each man will undoubtedly be on the team.
Eight goals in nine games has Lakes’ Sam Walker right on their tails, and he added another one to his tally last weekend with a thunderbolt in the 2-1 defeat to Lambton. The big matches keep on coming for Lakes, and despite the defeat, they’ll have taken confidence ahead of this weekend’s encounter with a second-place Magic side.
It’s a team which boasted ‘five or six’ players at its front end which underperformed last weekend, according to coach Ruben Zadkovich. Broadmeadow was held at bay for the first time this season on Sunday in a scoreless draw against Maitland. Despite the lack of flair up front, it was Magic’s fifth clean sheet of the season.
Magic have one of the tightest defences in the league with just eleven goals through in ten matches, and it’s that type of defensive resolve which Lakes need to find on Sunday. They’ve conceded 25 this season (equal-highest with Adamstown) and have kept just one clean sheet.
The way these two sides set up tactically will be interesting to see this weekend. Magic like to press high and exploit the space in behind, but finding that space may be difficult against a Lakes side which tends to sit deep and play quickly on the counter.
One to watch this weekend will be former Magic man Paul Sichalwe, who spent a number of years at Broadmeadow but wasn’t able to pin down a first-team position. He’s scored four times for Lakes this season, but one this weekend against his former club might be the sweetest yet.
What the coaches said:
Nick Webb (Lakes)
“Magic will press pretty high and push pretty hard, they’ve got a quality squad and they’ll be looking to bounce back from their draw against Maitland. We’ll be aware of that, and we’ll be looking to counteract that.
“Round one, like I said after the game back then we chased the Heritage Cup and were extremely tired, it was 40 degrees and it’s completely different now. Although we’re equal last, we certainly should have got something out of the weekend, we set up well and it was just two mistakes that cost us goals. Other than that, we had the lions share of possession and a lions share of the chances, we just didn’t take them.
“You can try all you like to coach the boys to eliminate errors from their game, at the end of the day it’s lapses in concentration that cost us. Guys can be quick but we have to be a little bit smarter and understand that, we spoke about it but we didn’t do it at the end of the day.
“Training was good on Tuesday night and we’ll look to lift that intensity again on Thursday night and be ready for Magic Park.”