PHOTO: SPROULE SPORTS FOCUS
Match of the Round
Lake Macquarie Roosters v Maitland Magpies
2.30pm Sunday 23rd July at Macquarie Field
Last Meeting: Round 8, 2017: Maitland 1 Lakes 0 at Cooks Square Park.
Ladder: Lakes 7th (22), Maitland 6th (25)
Last 3 Starts (most recent first):
Maitland – Drew Phoenix 2-2 (a), Won Bears 3-2 (a), Lost Eagles 1-2 (h)
Lakes – Lost Jets 0-5 (a), Won Rosebud 3-1 (h), Won Blues 2-0 (h)
It’s a case of last chance saloon for the Magpies this weekend, with anything less than a victory against the Roosters extinguishing their hopes of a finals appearance.
Last weekend, a frustrating draw with a ten-man Valentine increased the gap between Maitland and the top four to six points.
It’s been a difficult period for the Magpies, who since beating Broadmeadow 7-0 in round nine, have won just three of their eight matches since.
After that victory, Maitland sat second on the ladder and it has been a downward slide ever since, as they have slipped to sixth.
Lake Macquarie will celebrate Old Boy’s Day on Sunday and will be keen for a victory to send both their past and present players home in good spirits.
The Roosters had the bye last weekend before meeting the Jets Youth on Tuesday night, where they were dismantled 5-0.
However, before the weekend off the Roosters had an improved run of form, following a mid-season slump.
They won just one of eight matches through the middle portion of the season and experienced a similar slide on the ladder to the Magpies. After four rounds, Lakes were first, but now sit seventh.
Lakes then won two straight, including a 3-1 victory over Adamstown Rosebud where they rocketed out of the blocks to lead 3-0 inside the opening 31 minutes, before the defeat to the Jets.
With their season on the line, Maitland are expected to win on Sunday, but on Old Boy’s Day and with striker Sam Walker re-discovering his early season form in recent weeks, the Roosters will push the Magpies all the way.
What the Coaches Said:
Anthony Richards (Lakes)
“We’ve just got to make sure we don’t give them opportunities to run at us. We’ve got to cut them down before they wind up, not illegally, but, get tight on them so they don’t get that free space. That’ll be our plan to try and limit the amount of free space that they get. You can’t do it for 100% of the game and eventually those guys get free and they are dangerous.”
“Not a lot to be honest [changed during our two wins]. We are taking our chances which is taking a bit of pressure off us defensively. Once we are taking our chances it is helping us. It’s not just Sam Walker scoring goals either. Tommy Sparre and Justin Broadley is back in the team and playing.”
Phil Dando (Maitland)
“You just have to go about your business as normal and let everything take care of itself. You can’t go out and say we absolutely must win this, because I think it puts too much pressure on you. You just have to go and do the best you can and hopefully it’s good enough. I keep saying, I keep telling them, on our day our football is as good as anyone going around. Hopefully we do enough to get the right result.”
“They [Lakes] were well organised and they are an enthusiastic side who look to play football. They are looking to do all the right things, and are tough to break down. We only beat them 1-0 and we pinched a ball and broke away and scored the goal. It’s going to be tense as it was in the first game.”
Key: It’s do or die. Can Maitland keep their season alive?
Lambton Jaffas v Adamstown Rosebud
2.30pm Saturday 22nd July at Arthur Edden Oval
Last Meeting: FFA Cup, Round 5, 2017: Adamstown 0 Lambton 1 at Adamstown Oval.
Ladder: Lambton 2nd (33), Adamstown 9th (13)
Past 3 Starts (most recent first):
Lambton – Drew Blues 2-2 (h), Lost Magic 1-3 (a), Won Roosters 3-1 (h)
Adamstown – Lost Magic 0-3 (a), Lost Roosters 1-3 (a), Won Phoenix 4-2 (h)
A spluttering Lambton Jaffas side meet Adamstown Rosebud in the opening match of round 19 of the PlayStation®4 NPL Northern NSW this Saturday.
The Jaffas have lost form just at the wrong time of their campaign, and they have won just one of their last four to fall from top spot on the ladder and lose the initiative in the race for the minor premiership.
Injuries crippled Lambton on the weekend against Charlestown including Joel Griffiths (calf), Luke Remington (hip flexor), Nathan Morris (knee) and Pat Brown (elbow).
The injuries forced Lambton to play the final minutes with just ten men, and adds to the already injured Jobe Wheelhouse (ankle) on the sidelines.
Wheelhouse has proved to be a significant loss for Lambton who have won just two of five in his absence.
Their opponents Adamstown seemed to be heading in the right direction after consecutive victories over Weston and Valentine.
However, in recent weeks, defeats to Lake Macquarie where they didn’t show up in the opening half-hour and a 3-0 loss to Broadmeadow last weekend have stalled their progress.
Like Lambton, the loss of key players Alex Read, Dayne Pawlik and Justin Tannock didn’t help the Rosebuds cause against Magic.
With Lambton looking so comfortable for much of the season, what hasn’t been discussed is the chance of the slipping out of the top four.
Defeat on Saturday opens the door to that possibility, which would have been unthinkable just a few weeks ago.
What the Coaches Said:
James Pascoe (Lambton)
“Last week for the third time this year, we cleared the bench by about the hour mark and had to because of injury and then picked up a fourth injury after that, so we were down to ten men for the last 25 minutes.
“But, regardless don’t use that as an excuse in any way shape or form. People still have to adjust to different roles if they are asked to do that. We put bits and pieces of good performances together across the last two or three weeks, but we haven’t quite put together a strong 45 minutes in either half, so that is what we are looking for this weekend.”
“All I asked the boys to do is to concentrate, to work as hard as they can and to look forward, don’t look backwards. As far as I’m concerned after Edgeworth dropped those three points last week, we are playing for the minor premiership, we are not playing for survival in the top four. That has to be our mind-set. It’s the mind-set of people that want to be successful and we certainly want to be that, so that’s how we will be approaching things.”
Nick Webb (Adamstown)
“[Lambton] are obviously up there and on their day they are as good as any team. We’ve just got to match them in the enthusiasm I think. I still truly believe that we were unlucky against Magic. Ruben [Zadkovich] can say what he likes but, the truth is we had two cleared of the line and should have scored in the first five minutes and then it’s a different ball game. But, you’ve got to score goals to win and that’s what you’ve got to do. They scored some good goals and Kale [Bradbury] obviously changed that game for them.”
“We aren’t that bad, we just need a bit of luck at the minute. To be honest they were really disappointed after the game. That was the first time I saw a real desire to win [on the weekend]. They were disappointed not to get something out of it. We’ve got to take that confidence, because it wasn’t a bad performance, into Jaffas.”
Key: Can Lambton find some much-needed form, confidence and come out of the clash injury-free?
Charlestown City Blues v Edgeworth Eagles
6pm Saturday 22nd July at Lisle Carr Oval
Last Meeting: Round 8, 2017: Edgeworth 2 Charlestown 0 at Jack McLaughlan Oval.
Ladder: Charlestown 8th (16), Edgeworth 1st (33)
Past 3 Starts (most recent first):
Charlestown – Drew Jaffas 2-2 (a), Lost Olympic 1-2 (h), Lost Roosters 0-2 (a)
Edgeworth – Lost Olympic 0-1 (a), Won Jets 4-1 (h), Won Magpies 2-1 (a)
Edgeworth will be aiming to return to the winner’s circle and keep ahead in the minor premiership race when they face Charlestown in the first Saturday evening fixture since April.
Last weekend Edgeworth were ground down by Hamilton, who simply gave them no room to work with on the small Darling Street pitch.
The Eagles chances were few and far between and the only goal came courtesy of a penalty from the boot of Kane Goodchild.
The fixture is the beginning of what will be a busy week for the Eagles, who play three matches.
After the match with Charlestown, they will play South Melbourne in the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32 in Melbourne, before meeting Weston at home next Saturday.
While Edgeworth have a busy end to the season, Charlestown have a relative light one by comparison. The Blues have just three matches left this season, with finals now mathematically impossible.
They have showed grit and determination against top four sides in their last two matches, going down 2-1 to Hamilton in round 17, before last weekend sharing the points with Lambton Jaffas.
Blues striker Rene Ferguson is having a season to remember, finding the back of the net ten times this season, and has scored in his last two matches.
Ferguson sits just two goals off the top of the Golden Boot standings and is every chance of reaching top spot by season’s end.
Ferguson will no doubt cause problems for an Edgeworth side who will be keen to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointment. With that in mind they head into the clash as strong favourites.
What the Coaches Said:
Shane Pryce (Charlestown)
“I was ecstatic [after the Lambton result last weekend]. We were playing obviously, the leaders at the time and the players were immense on the day for me. Playing the leaders away from home and we went out and took the game to them and I was proud of the effort.”
“Obviously, with the change that is coming there is still uncertainty for some players. I think when something like that happens with so long to go, it’s easy just to throw your hands up in the air and say, ‘what the hell’ or ‘why are we still doing this’ so to speak with not making the semis or being a chance. Full credit to the guys who are turning up to training and turning up to play on the weekend and giving it there all. I’m happy with that.”
Damian Zane (Edgeworth)
“They [Charlestown] have been very good. They seem to have injected a few young guys and instead of possibly having senior guys who haven’t much to play for, instead they’ve got younger guys who have got a chance. When I took over, every young guy was working hard trying to impress me, so they’d be doing the same trying to impress [incoming coach] Dave Tanchevski.”
“[It will be] not very difficult [to make sure they focus on this weekend and not the FFA Cup]. Because, if you saw our shed after the game [against Olympic] they were shattered. I had a couple of boys apologise for their performance. I said ‘hey, don’t apologise, you’ve had a one off poor game.’ That’s just the standard they have set. Originally, I set the bar and they sort of maintain it. I don’t think [focus] will be an issue.”
Key: With the minor premiership on the line can Damian Zane’s Eagles win these crunch matches as they have the last two seasons?
Weston Bears v Hamilton Olympic
2.30pm Sunday 23rd July at Rockwell Automation Park
Last Meeting: Round 8, 2017: Hamilton 2 Weston 0 at Darling Street Oval.
Ladder: Weston 11th (7), Hamilton 4th (31)
Past 3 Starts (most recent first):
Hamilton – Won Eagles 1-0 (h), Won Blues 2-1 (a), Won Jets 2-1 (a)
Weston – Lost Jets 0-1 (a), Lost Magpies 2-3 (h), Lost Rosebud 0-2 (h)
If the wooden spoon is to be avoided by the Bears, it is becoming must-win territory after last weekend’s tight defeat to the Jets Youth.
Weston deserved to hold their heads up high last Tuesday when they harassed and harried the Newcastle Jets A-League side at Weston.
It seemed that performance would be the catalyst for them to get some victories and climb off the bottom of the table in their remaining five matches.
But, again on the weekend the Bears couldn’t quite do the job against the Jets Youth. An unfortunate own goal scored by Jordan Jackson put them behind the eight ball early and they just couldn’t find a route back into the match.
This weekend a strong and physical Hamilton side are in town, brimming with confidence after a victory over Edgeworth last weekend. It will be another tough test for the young Bears.
While Olympic haven’t been at their best this season, three points have been achieved with monotonous regularity through the back half of the season.
Hamilton have lost just one of their last 12 and now incredibly sit just two points off top spot.
Michael Bolch got his wish and Olympic were flying heavily undetected, under the radar. That was until last weekend.
This weekend, the spotlight is back on Olympic. But, the margins are so tight. With three points separating first from fifth, winning is essential if Hamilton want to sure up their spot in the finals.
Hamilton have to be favourites, but Weston at home are always a tricky proposition.
What the Coaches Said:
Steve Piggott (Weston)
“We played them last time, it was a lot closer than what people might think. They scored a penalty, we gave them a goal, I think Greg Anderson was in both of those situations. Passed back to the goalie from three yards out and Kane Goodchild tapped it in. We self-destructed there. But, again we’ve got to stop them dominating.”
“Reece Papas has got good feet and good vision. The Swan boys have been on fire for them. They did a bit of a job on the weekend. They are a good team and probably a little more buoyant from their 1-0 victory over Edgeworth. They’ve got everything to play for, we’ll be looking to keep our form coming back into this week’s match and look for a point again.”
Michael Bolch (Hamilton)
“They [Weston] are a good young side. Steve [Piggott] is redeveloping up there and while they haven’t won a great deal of games, they have been competitive in every game they’ve played. These games are dangers for us. If you go back the last three years and we have beaten Edgeworth at this time of the year in the last three years and then you’ll find the next game we drop points straight away.”
“From the last couple of years, we’ve been on that big of a high after beating and going top of the league we’ve probably lost a bit of focus on the next game coming up. Our biggest thing this weekend is making sure we are mentally up for the game. I’m sure a few boys are looking to see where they [Weston] are on the table and that’s the complacency that sets it. We’ve just got to harp on it all week, about how important the game is.”
Key: The last two seasons Hamilton haven’t backed up victories over Edgeworth with three points the week after. Can they buck that trend on Sunday?