PHOTO: Sproule Sports Focus
Match of the Round
Edgeworth Eagles v Broadmeadow Magic
7.15pm Friday 10th March at Jack McLaughlan Oval
Last Meeting: 2016 Grand Final: Edgeworth 2 (McBreen 27’, 71’) Broadmeadow 1 (Virgili 12’) at Magic Park.
2016 Ladder: Edgeworth 1st (46 pts), Broadmeadow 3rd (32)
It doesn’t get much bigger than a Grand Final re-match in round one and all is in anticipation for what is sure to be a cracking way to start the season. The most successful Grand Final winning side of the 21st century take on the most successful side of the last two seasons.
It’s been a long time between victories over the Eagles for Broadmeadow, with their last win seven matches ago, which include six PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues (NPL) fixtures and one in the Westfield FFA Cup last year. The last win was back in April 2015, on a Friday night at Jack McLaughlan Oval. Maybe a good omen for Magic fans…
With Ruben Zadkovich coming into the Magic fold as head coach this season, expect a different style to what was deployed by Rob Virgili and Bobby Naumov and expect new ideas to combat the dominant Eagles. It remains to be seen whether the new approach will work in Broadmeadow’s first match in the Zadkovich Era.
For Damian Zane and the Eagles, 2017 will be an even tougher year. After a season in 2016 which shattered the highs of the brilliant season they had in 2015, the expectation will be high at Edgeworth for another record-breaking season. Whether the Eagles can cope with more pressure and expectation than they experienced in 2016 remains to be seen.
Both sides looked impressive in the pre-season, including against Chinese opponents Liaoning. Magic won 2-1 and Edgeworth drew 2-2 while the Eagles also played in the inaugural Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) Heritage Cup on the weekend. They went down in the final to Adamstown after a 1-1 draw, but a loss on penalties will not cause the Edgeworth coach to lose too much sleep.
In a huge blow, the home side loses new signing Kieran Sanders for the first two weeks due to a suspension which carries over from the PS4 NPL Queensland competition, while youngster Kieran Hayes looks as though he will join the Jets Youth and leave the club – with Damian Zane’s blessing.
What the Coaches Said:
Damian Zane (Edgeworth)
“You’ve just got to look at Broadmeadow’s roster and they have got a lot of quality in the front third. I saw a highlight of Scott Pettit score a good goal, he’s like a new signing for them. To have a new coach, I know what it feels like after what happened here, everyone starts on equal ground and is trying to impress.”
“The last month has been total preparation for the Broadmeadow game. We haven’t been thinking ahead of it. Tactically we’ve worked on a few things which we think will work in round one which may not have helped us last weekend [in the Heritage Cup].
Ruben Zadkovich (Broadmeadow) – from Season Preview
“I’m a young coach and I’m still learning my trade definitely. It’s not an easy job to take a first team as my first main role. The only other coaching job I’ve had before was at the Perth Glory Youth team and there is a big difference to be an Assistant there and being the first team coach here.”
“I’ve inherited a good squad and it’s not about whether they can do it, it just about whether I can get the best out of them and get them all to click and pull in the same direction. A lot of the guys are proven players in this league, scored a lot of goals and won trophies. They are a great bunch of guys and a great bunch of players. It’s just a matter of getting the best out of them.”
Key: The big moments. It’s a match which is hard to split, whoever can win them will go a long way to claiming the three points. Broadmeadow had their chances in the Grand Final last year and didn’t take them, they need to here.
Newcastle Jets Youth v Adamstown Rosebud
2.30pm Saturday 11th March at Adamstown Oval
Last Meeting: Round 15, 2016: Jets Youth 4 (Brymora 20, Parris 23; Carroll 76’, Joice 78’) Adamstown 1 (Lino 34’) at Adamstown Oval
2016 Ladder: Jets Youth 5th (24), Adamstown 9th (11)
The Jets Youth play their first competitive match since the National Youth League season finished in January against an Adamstown side brimming with confidence after their NNSWF Heritage Cup victory on Sunday.
It was a long time coming but finally, after 26 long years, Adamstown fans have something to cheer about. A victory over Edgeworth in the inaugural NNSWF Heritage Cup on Sunday would have brought a smile to many of the Rosebud faithfuls.
While they have won the NewFM Division during those 26 years, this will be much more satisfying especially considering they knocked over a side who have been unstoppable over the last couple of years.
New coach Peter McGuinness seems to have Adamstown firing on all cylinders again, but, the Jets Youth have been somewhat of a bogy side for the Rosebud’s over the last few seasons. The Buds have won two of their last six clashes against the Jets Youth and over those six clashes, they have been outscored 19-6.
The Jets were slow out of the blocks last season and it could be a similar story this year as they have experienced a squad turnover in the off-season. Andrew Pawiak has headed to Maitland, Tom Waller to Lambton and Ryan Ensor will meet his former club when he turns out for Adamstown on Saturday.
Adamstown will miss their goal scorer from the Heritage Cup Final – Justin Tannock – on the weekend as he is away. Owen Littlewood will miss the match with suspension while Cameron Holzheimer and Mitch Hunter are in doubt with injury.
What the Coaches Said:
Peter McGuinness (Adamstown)
“I’m really looking forward to the start of the season. It will be a challenging start to the season against some good, quick and technically good players that will be tactically good. It will be a good contest.”
“Particularly the committee members who have been around the club for a number of years, they were very happy with the [Heritage Cup] win on the weekend. To win something was great for everyone. I think, while they were excited that we won something, they were more excited seeing the football that we can play.”
Clayton Zane (Jets Youth)
“They’ll be full of confidence after the Heritage Cup win. They’ve got a young team and have strengthened from what they had last year. I know a few of their players and they were great servants for us. I’m expecting a quality game against a mobile team.”
“Cody Carroll will be a key for us and Finn Parris as well. He’s back from injury and we expect after getting a full season under his belt last year a few more goals and assists this year. Cameron Joice and Angus Thurgate are the other key players from last year as well as Kristian Brymora who is playing in the Jets first team and is still eligible for us.”
Key: Physicality. How well the smaller Jets cope with the larger physical presence of the Rosebud’s will go a long way to determining the result in this one.
Charlestown City Blues v Valentine Phoenix
7.30pm Saturday 11th March at Lisle Carr Oval
Last Meeting: Round 10, 2016: Valentine 3 (S. McGinley 51’, 61’, Tserepas 86’) Charlestown 2 (Johnson 45’, Hughes (p) 66’) at Blacksmiths Oval.
2016 Ladder: Charlestown 6th (24), Valentine 8th (19)
Two sides who punched above their weight in 2016, will do battle in the first round of the season for the second year in a row.
Over recent history, it has been the Blues who have had the upper hand in clashes between the two sides winning four of their last six clashes, but it was the Phoenix who are undefeated in their last two clashes against Charlestown.
Potentially it was the Phoenix who ended the finals hopes of Charlestown in their last meeting when they came from behind to win 3-2 in a controversial match at Blacksmiths Oval where two of the club’s former players in Ridge Marpu and Scott Smith were both given their marching orders in separate incidents.
Charlestown has recruited well this season and have former Valentine players Josh Swadling and Corey Atkinson while Dan Casciaroli who has arrived from Broadmeadow Magic will provide plenty of creativity in the middle of the park.
On the other hand, Daniel Minors has come into Valentine’s midfield from the Championship winning Edgeworth side. Goalkeeper Scott Carter (Adamstown) and Zac Sneddon (Weston) will add some defensive steel to a side who conceded an average of almost two-and-a-half goals a game last season.
If both sides are to give themselves a chance in the race to the finals a win is a must here, both need all the points they can get and three points in round one would be a huge confidence booster.
Charlestown’s Jarryd Johnson and Cameron Hughes are both unavailable for the opening round clash while Valentine has a full squad to pick from for Saturday’s match.
What the Coaches Said:
Shane Pryce (Charlestown)
“First game, everyone will be feeling each other out and both teams will be prepared. At the club, we have been working on a few of our structures for the clash. We want to get them right. We’ve got a couple of players who are out already, but there are no excuses from us, we’ve got a much greater squad depth this year.”
“I’ve got a lot of respect and time for Daniel [Casciaroli]. He’s a player I really wanted to get at the club due to his ball playing abilities. He can run the game for you in the middle of the park, make it quick, slow and change the point of play. I’ve been waiting for him to play a competition match because I think he’s got a lot to give as a player.”
Sam Griffin (Valentine Assistant)
“We really need to get off to good start this year after a big turnover of players. To Darren’s [Sills] credit he’s found a very good young squad that I feel can win something either this year or next year and I give us a big chance on the weekend.”
“I think in turning around from last year our backline has to be tighter. Zac Sneddon was a good pick-up for us, he’s very aggressive, he’s smart and a good talker. There’s plenty of young boys in there and to have the experience of Daniel Minors from the all-conquering Edgeworth side is sure to help us. Especially being a Valentine junior it’s great to have him back.”
Key: Charlestown’s Dan Casciaroli vs Valentine’s Dan Minors. Two new signings from last year’s Grand Finalists. How well can they control the midfield battle?
Weston Workers Bears v Lake Macquarie City Roosters
2.30pm Sunday 12th March at Rockwell Automation Park
Last Meeting: Round 10, 2014: Weston 3 (Morris (p) 27’, Ryan 44’, Cowburn 69’) Lake Macquarie 2 (S. Walker 45’, Horne 74’) at Macquarie Field.
2016 Ladder: Weston 10th (6), Lake Macquarie 1st in NewFM League
The two sides who are expected by most to finish in the bottom two this season meet in round one and it’s no better opportunity for one of these sides to breathe some hope into their campaign.
While they have had a big turnover in personnel and most probably won’t remember their recent record the Bears have won just 2 of their last 23 PS4 NPL matches dating to the back end of the 2015 season, where they fell from top four to finish fifth.
Weston had one of their worst seasons on record in 2016, winning just one match and drawing three on their way to finishing on the bottom of the pile. They have brought former coach Steve Piggott back into the set-up and cleaned out much of the roster so the Bears seem as though they will be an unknown for the early part of the season at least.
While they haven’t met in the PS4 NPL since 2014, Weston boasts an impressive recent record over the Roosters having won their last five straight and have lost in just one of their last nine meetings.
The Roosters have recruited a large number of players in the off-season including goalkeeper Benn Kelly who will play against his former club on Sunday. Trent Partridge has also made the move from Weston to Lakes, however, he will miss the match with a suspension carried over from last year. Striker Sam Walker scored 31 times for the Roosters last season and how well he plays on Sunday will go a long way to deciding this match.
Blake Green from Lakes is another one to look out for. He scored 17 goals in 21 NewFM Division matches last season and his combination with Walker will be key against a Weston side which will still be getting used to their combinations.
Partridge is out for Lakes, while Weston’s new goalkeeper Kane Runge will be released from the Mariners Youth in time for round two, so goalkeeping coach Andrew Goldman will start between the sticks for the Bears.
What the Coaches Said:
Steve Piggott (Weston)
“We got what we needed to out of the Heritage Cup. The big thing was to play Edgeworth the last game of the pre-season even though it was only for an hour. They beat us previously 5-1 in a pre-season trial and it was a good measuring stick for us. We got within a goal and it took a good free kick to beat us.”
“I’ve seen a fair bit of improvement in the group physically and fitness wise. We are getting there mentally and we are competing and that is all you can ask of a young group at this early stage. I’m impressed with their effort and their energy. We’ve just got to channel it into the right times and take the opportunities that we create or are given from mistakes from other teams which we haven’t done well enough in the pre-season.”
Anthony Richards (Lake Macquarie)
“We are excited about being in a top of the table clash and it’s probably the first time we will be involved in a top of the table clash all season. I do know Andrew Goldman he is a very experienced goalkeeper and Brock Oakley is a terrific defender who has got plenty of experience. They are a good young mobile side and they will go really well.”
“It’s been a long off-season for us and we are ready to go. We are like a 14-year-old schoolgirl at a Justin Bieber concert. We are good to go. Every game for us is going to be difficult so it’s irrelevant who we play whether it been Edgeworth or Weston.”
Key: Sam Walker. He dominated the NPL in 2014, but, can he do so this season? Weston need to stop him if they are to win first up.
Hamilton Olympic v Lambton Jaffas
6.45pm Sunday 12th March at Darling Street Oval
Last Meeting: Round 12, 2016: Hamilton 2 (Cooper 34’, Goodchild 57’) Lambton 2 (Hay 2’, Davidson 45+1’) at Darling Street Oval
2016 Ladder: Hamilton 2nd (42), Lambton 7th (19)
If a Grand Final re-match wasn’t taking place on Friday night this one would almost certainly have ‘match of the round’ billing. Two of the strongest rosters in the competition do battle in a match which could count for a lot come to the end of the season.
Hamilton and Lambton played out some outstanding contests in 2016 and based on both sides strengthening their rosters in 2017 it would seem the quality will only get better.
Lambton knocked off Olympic 3-2 in the Westfield FFA Cup last year when many expected Hamilton would go through against an injury-hit Jaffas outfit. A couple of weeks later and they would battle it out again. Again the Jaffas were underdogs and Olympic had to fight hard to come from behind twice to claim a point at home.
The combination of Scott Smith and Kane Goodchild worked a treat last time they played together at Charlestown in 2014, with the two scoring 20 goals between them as the Blues finished fourth. If they can re-ignite that combination this season teams will need to be wary, especially the Jaffas on Sunday.
For Lambton, they were bitterly disappointed with a 2016 season which didn’t quite go to script. Since they were promoted to the PS4 NPL for the start of 2013 they made the Grand Final their first year, won the Grand Final their second season and in 2015 went within a whisker of making it to another Grand Final after a nail-biting semi-final loss to Hamilton.
The expectation was again high in 2016 but it didn’t quite go to script with injuries cruelling their season. Coach James Pascoe has built a very strong squad this season with the signing of Michael Kantarovski along with the experienced Joel Griffiths joining the club. Ridge Marpu has joined from Valentine and his pace combined with Luke Remington’s is sure to cause Hamilton some headaches on Sunday.
Olympic Captain Kyle Hodges is in doubt for the clash with an ankle complaint, but the kick off on Sunday night gives him plenty of time to get himself ready. The Jaffas will have a full squad to pick from come Sunday.
What the Coaches Said:
Mick Bolch (Hamilton)
“The Jaffas have got plenty of young players in the side and Joel Griffiths does well for them up front. They are very dangerous in the front third with Ridge Marpu, Joel Griffiths and Luke Remington playing up front. Joel Griffiths runs really good lines, holds the ball up well and he’s got the quick young boys around him who are very dangerous. Jobe Wheelhouse in the middle of the park with [Michael] Kantararovski and Brad Swancott is one of the best keepers in the league so they will be more competitive than what they were last year.”
“We’ve just got to stick to and have faith in our shape and what we have been worked on in the pre-season. The boys have been doing really well at training and really well in the trial games. We’ve beaten the Jets Youth and the Mariners Youth and everyone just can’t wait to get out on the field.”
James Pascoe (Lambton)
“Hamilton couldn’t do much better than they did last year. They went undefeated through the regular season which is pretty impressive and they have recruited quite well for this season. We will have to be at our best to get something out of the match, that’s for sure.”
“I think [Olympic] will be very pumped up to get something out of it. I expect it to be a pretty tight affair and a match which will be won in the last 15 minutes. There are no excuses from us, we have had a good three, three-and-a-half-month pre-season and we are right and ready to go and looking forward to it.”
Key: Hamilton’s defence coped with the pace of Magic’s James Virgili and Kale Bradbury on opposing flanks for much of last season. Can they do a similar job on Marpu and Remington?