Competitions

NPL Northern NSW Round 16 Preview

July 5th, 2018

 SPROULE SPORTS FOCUS

 DECLAN PAYNE 

Match of the Round

Valentine Phoenix v Lake Macquarie City

Sunday 8th July, 2:30 pm at CB Complex

It’s the Lake Mac derby once again, and although there’s now some distance between these two teams on the ladder Sunday’s result could change the complexion of the bottom half of the competition.

You’d be well pressed not to remember the last time these two sides met. Out at Macquarie Field, it was 1-all within the first five minutes but Lakes eventually streaked out to an incredible 6-1 victory.

One of the defensive performances of the season last weekend secured Valentine their eighth point of the season, and incredibly their fifth draw. The 0-0 draw with Maitland was just the second time Magpies had been kept scoreless.

They’ll need to put in a similarly defensive solid performance this weekend in order to avoid the embarrassment inflicted last time they played Lakes.

If Darren Sills can get centre-backs Reece Pettit and Mele Temguia to play to the same standard they did against Maitland, it will hold Valentine in good stead on Sunday.

A win for either side will have a big impact on how things turn out come August. A Lakes win would put them eight points above Valentine and virtually guarantee them avoiding the spoon.

A Phoenix win would pull them up within two points of Lakes, and put the pressure on both them and Weston. It’d guarantee a real scrap to avoid the bottom place, and really put the wind in Valentine sails for the back end of their season.

Despite playing against ten men for almost sixty minutes last weekend, Lakes wasn’t able to pull off their third win in a row and finished 2-2 with Adamstown.

The Roosters are one of the most potent attacking teams in the league, with 25 goals scored, they are the highest-scoring side outside of the top four.

11 of those goals belong to Sam Walker, who is level with James Virgili in the race for the Golden Boot. With Virgili away this weekend on Jets duty, Walker could step ahead in the race.

What the coaches said:

Nick Webb (Lakes)

“I have no doubt Valentine will be as defensively strong as they were against Maitland last week, I’ve just watched the game and I think they’re very well structured. Reece Pettit does a great job marshalling the troops, Zac Sneddon sits in front, so we’re going to have our work cut out.

“We’ll be looking to move the ball as quickly as we can, get our front four more involved and get some more forward runs which would put their back four under pressure. We’ve got some work to do because last week we just weren’t in the same game, so we’ve got to make sure we step up this week and push hard.

“We need more urgency on everything, we need to want the second ball when it’s there in defence and attack, we need to move the ball quickly and take responsibility in attack and start to shoot when we have to instead of passing it off to someone else to take responsibility. Last weekend we got caught out many times and it looked like they were outnumbering us, but they had one less than us.

“We’ve spoken about that, and we’re looking forward to the weekend and hopefully earn some points like we have in the last three weeks. Joel Wood and Matt Paul are always dangerous for Valentine, we’ll be looking to shut those guys down and not let them run at us, but it will be up to our attitude on the day.”

 

Weston Bears v Edgeworth Eagles

Saturday 7th July, 2:30 pm at Rockwell Automation Park

It’s a match between two sides who are both one position off – for Edgeworth it’s one spot from the top, for Weston it’s a spot from the bottom.

Weston will be hoping that this weekend is anything but the same as the last time the two met. That match finished 4-1 to Edgeworth, who capitalised on some poor set piece set-ups from the Bears.

After a superb win over Maitland back in round 12, Weston has failed to kick on from that result and have picked up just a single point since then. Last weekend was a tough result against strong opposition – a 3-0 defeat at Broadmeadow.

It’s a situation which the Weston committee deemed couldn’t continue, with news breaking last Friday that coach Steve Piggott wouldn’t see out his three-year contract and will depart at the end of the season after two seasons at the helm.

Whether or not that will bring the playing group together or see them limp to the finish line is yet to be seen. This weekend might provide some insight, as Edgeworth is another tough opponent.

Instability in the dugout is something which is far from the Eagles’ minds, especially after they claimed their biggest win of the season last weekend when they knocked five through what had been a solid Jets Youth defence.

What’s even scarier for Weston this weekend is that they did it with Dylan Holz on the sidelines, and Daniel McBreen and Will Bower returning from injury.

With things so tight at the top of the league, every match is a must-win for Edgeworth. Three premierships in as many years suggest they thrive on the pressure.

What the coaches said:

Damien Zane (Edgeworth)

“Any team coached by Piggo is pretty well set up defensively, they’ve had a big improvement from last season to this season. They haven’t lost at home to any of the teams that are in the top four, so we’re expecting a tough game. Traditionally there’s a bit of a rivalry between us, so our boys are going to have to be at their best.

“We’ve had issues up at Weston for years, back to when I was playing, a couple of years we’ve gone up there and won but it’s a different prospect this year. They’re really well organised, they’re playing some good football…last week I didn’t think they were as bad as the score-line suggested.

“There’s not much from last weekend we really need to improve on, they scored a goal from one mistake we made when we were probably disjointed while we made three subs. I was pretty happy, we finally took the chances we’ve been creating and to be 2-0 up after four minutes… we’ve lacked that finishing touch, but young Bailey Garland came in and his run helped with the first goal and he scored a cracker for the third. Hopefully more of the same from him this week.

“Dylan Holz is back, he’s got his stitches out and was given the all-clear. Sam Maxwell will probably have another run in the 20s, and apart from that we’re at full strength (but) Josh Evans may possibly be away.”

 

Newcastle Jets Youth v Hamilton Olympic
Saturday 7th July, 2:30 pm at Darling Street Oval

It’s a depleted Jets Youth side this weekend, up against a Hamilton side who could be struggling for match sharpness despite playing on Wednesday night.

It was tight and it was messy last time the two teams faced off, but it was Jets Youth who triumphed with a 2-1 victory back in round five.

With much of the senior side heading to China for a short pre-season tournament, Ernie Merrick has decided to take along a number of young talents to give them a taste of senior football.

It means Jets Youth will be without mainstays Jack Simmons, Jackson Frendo, and Kieran Hayes for an important clash with Hamilton this weekend.

It will be a big loss, particularly so considering how they’ll be stinging after last weekend’s big 5-1 loss to Edgeworth. A win this weekend could push Jets Youth into fifth.

A bye and a series of washouts mean Hamilton hasn’t played a competitive fixture since the 17th of June, their 4-1 win over Adamstown Rosebud. By the time they take to the pitch on Saturday afternoon, it will have been almost three weeks.

What was looking like a bit of a battered and bruised Hamilton outfit will have had time to recover and overcome a few niggles, despite a lack of match practice.

Of all the sides outside the top four, Hamilton looks like the one perhaps most likely to make a run on it. There are six points separating them and Maitland in fourth, but Olympic has three games and potentially nine points in hand.

What the coaches said:

Peter McGuinness (Hamilton)

“I’m expecting plenty of enthusiasm from the Jets, in youth development, the role is to develop the player holistically and part of that is giving them opportunities to test themselves in another level of football.

“Those players that get that opportunity this week will be full of energy and very excited to be playing first grade if they’ve been called up from the 18s. They’ll be well-prepared, well-organised, and probably champing at the bit to get on the pitch.

“Three weeks since our last game, we played Adamstown and then were washed out against Valentine [on 24 June and 4 July] and haven’t played since. The boys are very keen to play and have been so frustrated because we had a little bit of momentum, performing quite well and importantly we were getting results but it’s stalled everything.

“The one good thing is it’s helped Jarryd Sutherland, Jed Hornery, Blake Green who are all injured long-term. We haven’t played any football while they’ve been out, and all three are possibly a couple of weeks away.

“Stuart [Musalik] will play this weekend, as long as the surface is good then he’ll have a good impact on the game. I’m not sure how long he’ll last at top speed level, but he’s doing quite well and has earned the opportunity.”

 

Adamstown Rosebud v Lambton Jaffas

Sunday 8th July, 2:30 pm at Adamstown Oval

Back in the winners’ circle for the first time since late May, Lambton is now making their way back up the ladder while Adamstown’s resurgence has been slightly halted over the last fortnight.

It was against Lambton which that resurgence started to kick into gear, the two sides playing out a 1-1 draw, back in April, which was just Adamstown’s second point of the season.

It was a mighty effort from Adamstown last time out, coming from behind with ten men and actually lead Lakes at one stage. The 2-2 draw ensured they stayed in the eighth spot.

A red card to Robbie Turnbull last weekend means they’ll miss him on Sunday, which will leave an experienced hole in the backline. It’s a hole exacerbated by the absence of Benn Kelly, who will miss another week after his red card against Maitland.

Now six points off the top four with five games to play, a run on the finals looks unlikely but a win on Sunday could edge Adamstown closer. The focus will be on Sunday and no further, but it’s not a bad motivator.

Lambton moved within four points of top spot with a win over Charlestown last weekend. Now in third, the 2-1 win demonstrated just how important Braedyn Crowley is to that side.

He’s got six goals from eight games this season, and given the test to Lambton’s depth Crowley will be crucial again this weekend. Jaffas will be missing Luke Remington, Nathan Verity, and Ryan Griffiths who are sidelined with injury.

Joel Griffiths and Jobe Wheelhouse are away but Lambton will welcome Bren Hammel back who will be important regardless of his match fitness. A win on Sunday would put Lambton five points ahead of fourth place.

What the coaches said:
Shane Cansdell-Sherriff (Adamstown)

“They have experience, they’re well-organised and well-drilled. They’ll know what they want to do and they’ll go and do it, so we’ve got to be prepared for what they’re going to bring to the table. We have to show them respect, they’ve got the quality that can hurt you.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re on our toes, we can’t switch off, we’re well-organised and we work hard. When you lose senior players like [Robbie Turnbull and Benn Kelly] that, it’s difficult because you’re taking away a lot of experience from the team.

“There’s a lot of young boys this year who are fantastic, but just that game management that the senior players are used to. It certainly affects you over the course of the game.”

 

Charlestown City Blues v Broadmeadow Magic

Sunday 8th July, 2:30 pm at Lisle Carr Oval

It’s a battle of two of the leagues’ heavyweights, but the tables have certainly turned since the first weeks of the competition and now nine points separate the pair.

Broadmeadow was the first side to inflict defeat on Charlestown this season, a 6th-minute goal to John Majurovski and a 76th-minute red card to Shane Paul two of many talking points in the 1-0 result.

The Blues haven’t won in the league since May 13, a 2-0 win over Valentine back in round nine. They went close last weekend, but Lambton proved too strong in the 2-1 victory.

That made it four league losses in a row for Charlestown, who are still in fifth but that’s largely due to their stunning early season form. Kane Goodchild is returning from injury, a return to form could help get the Blues back into the finals.

A loss this weekend would make their task much harder – but it is a very tall order. The side above them, Maitland, has the bye and Charlestown can move level on points with a win.

The team in their way is one-point clear at the top of the league, have scored the most goals (33) and conceded the least (12). They’ve lost just twice all year, and once on the road.

Last weekend was a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Weston and one which James Virgili bossed. He scored once and set up the other two goals, and he will be missed this weekend as he travels to China with the Newcastle Jets.

It’s a good chance for Kale Bradbury to step up and make his mark on the team, which he’s already made a good showing with his nine league goals so far this season. A win would see them make what could be an important contribution to their goal difference, and maintain that lead at the top regardless of other results.

What the coaches said:

David Tanchevski (Charlestown)

“We’re expecting much of the same from Magic, they’ve been one of the best teams in the competition and every game against them is a tough game. Our first one against them this season was tough, not many chances and a tightly fought game so it’ll be much of the same on the weekend.

“We took a lot of confidence out of last week against Jaffas, we didn’t get the win but we had a lot of good chances and we were probably unlucky not to score at the end when Cal [Lewis] and Goody [Kane Goodchild] had a couple of good chances at the end there. The performance was much better than the past couple of weeks, we’ve been carrying a few injuries and players have been playing with injuries.

“It’s looking pretty strong for this week, it’ll be the strongest squad we’ve put out in about six or seven weeks. Kane [Goodchild] will be available to select off the bench, Pete McPherson will be on the bench for us, and we signed Daniel Ott through the week and he’ll be available for selection, and Jim Fogarty will make his debut for us this weekend. We’re just waiting on Kev [Davison] who injured himself in the first five minutes of the Jaffas game.

“It was always going to be difficult for us this year lacking some depth, we’ve probably felt that in the last four or six weeks and the results have been affected through that as well. We’ve got players back on deck now, players are playing for spots and there’s competition for spots again.

“It also brings freshness to the squad as well, there’s a lot of fatigue after the matches we’ve played over the past few weeks. Competition for spots, fresh faces, and it’s healthy competition.”

 

Maitland has the bye

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