Competitions

PS4 NPL NNSW Round 5 Preview

April 6th, 2017
PHOTO: SPROULE SPORTS FOCUS

BEN HOMER

Lake Macquarie Roosters v Lambton Jaffas
2.30pm Sunday 9th April at Macquarie Field
Match of the Round

Last Meeting: Round 11, 2014: Lambton 5 Lake Macquarie 2 at Arthur Edden Oval.
Ladder: Lake Macquarie 1st (8pts), Lambton 2nd (7)

Last 3 Starts (most recent first):

Lake Macquarie – Won Magic 4-1 (a), Won Phoenix 3-0 (h), Drew Blues 1-1 (a)
Lambton – Lost Phoenix 2-3 (h), Won Eagles 2-1 (h), Drew Bears 2-2 (a)

Bottom Line

It’s a top of the table clash on Sunday afternoon when the Lambton Jaffas head to Macquarie Field to play a PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues (NPL) Northern NSW match for the first time since 2014.

The Roosters are soaring after an unbelievable start to their 2017 campaign, and they remain the only undefeated side in the competition, except Maitland who haven’t played a match.

After two matches without a goal, many wondered whether Sam Walker would find his goal scoring touch again including former Lakes coach and now BarTV commentator Chris Turner who “offered to take him down to the park”.

Walker responded in fine style scoring five goals in his last two outings including an incredible hat-trick against one of the competition favourites in Broadmeadow Magic. You could scarcely believe what unfolded last Sunday afternoon as a Walker-inspired Lakes crushed Broadmeadow 4-1.

They meet a Jaffas side who saw the polar opposites of agony and ecstasy in the space of just four days. After beating two-time defending Premiers Edgeworth on Wednesday night the Jaffas were quickly brought down to earth when Valentine came from behind to beat them 3-2.

A Brad Swancott send-off didn’t help the Jaffas cause and his absence on Sunday afternoon will no doubt be felt by the Jaffas, and Sam Walker and his side won’t mind it one bit.

Since the Jaffas promotion in 2012, the sides have played four times, with the Jaffas winning three and the other match ending in a draw. The last time Lakes took down the Jaffas was back in 2010, they won twice that season 1-0 at Macquarie Field and 4-0 at Arthur Edden Oval.

What the Coaches Said: 

Anthony Richards (Lake Macquarie)

“I’m serious about this. I haven’t had a look at the ladder. I know obviously from what has been said that we are near the top, but seriously we are just looking at playing the sides that are in front of us. Jaffas are a terrific side, they’ve got probably two of the better players who have played for Newcastle [Jets] in Jobe Wheelhouse and Joel Griffiths. I guess it will be me telling my boys not to take out the autograph books during the game and wait till full-time to get an autograph.”

“They have probably got the prettiest striker in the competition in Pat Brown who is in form at the moment. But, you just can’t focus on them [Wheelhouse, Griffiths and Brown]. If you focus on them, then the other guys like Luke Remington who is a super player, Nathan Morris, Ridge Marpu. These guys are a side who have some tremendous talent. It’s not a ‘let’s focus on one thing’ it’s let’s make sure we have our ducks in order and we do our job to make sure we are at our best.”

James Pascoe (Lambton)

“We’ve got a squad with enough talent and experience in it to be a bit more consistent. Having said that it is still a newish group. We’ve done a longish pre-season, we still are becoming cohesive, I guess you could say, in different areas of our game. There is plenty of room for improvement in lots of that and the speed and momentum in which we move in the last third has got to improve.”

“I watched [Lakes’] first half against Magic, and they were decent. We played them in pre-season and beat them 4-0. They had a couple out and I think we had [Jobe] Wheelhouse, [Luke] Remington and [Ben] Hay out for ourselves, so neither team was probably at full strength. But, they certainly looked a lot more balanced in what I saw in the match against Magic on the weekend.”

Key: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Can Lake Macquarie continue to do the old proverb justice?

 

Edgeworth Eagles v Maitland FC
7.30 pm Saturday 8th April at Jack McLaughlan Oval

Last Meeting: Semi Final 2nd Leg, 2016: Edgeworth 2 Maitland 1 at Jack McLaughlan Oval.
Ladder: Edgeworth 5th (4), Maitland 7th (3)

Past 3 Starts (most recent first):

Maitland – Won Jets 4-2 (a)
Edgeworth – Lost Jaffas 1-2 (a), Won Rosebud 6-0 (h), Drew Magic 1-1 (h)

Bottom Line
Both sides return to the scene of last year’s dramatic semi-final second leg where Maitland went within centimetres of reaching the Grand Final. Keigo Moriyasu’s late strike was the difference between the sides that afternoon as Edgeworth marched on and the rest is history.

Edgeworth’s start to the season seemed to be going along like clockwork after a ten-man renaissance against Broadmeadow followed by a ruthless thumping of a wasteful Adamstown. But, the smooth start hit a snag last week when Lambton took them down 2-1 at Arthur Edden Oval.

Damian Zane says the loss has spurred on his side and re-energised them for what is to come in the remainder of the season. After having last weekend off with the bye, expect the Eagles to come into this one ready and raring to go.

Meanwhile, as some sides in the competition have played up to four matches, Maitland have just played the one competitive PS4 NPL Northern NSW match.

The constant downpours and poor drainage of Cooks Square Park have combined to make it almost impossible for matches to be played at the ground and the catch-up matches will make for a busy and fatiguing few weeks for the Magpies.

It was only this week, that the Magpies played their first match – a 4-2 win over the Jets. They will be full of confidence after scoring four unanswered goals in the match after going down 2-0 inside the opening 16 minutes.

Edgeworth are at full strength this weekend as Kieran Sanders makes his long-awaited return from suspension. Maitland on the other hand could be without Ryan Clarke (hamstring) who missed the match with the Jets.

What the Coaches Said: 

Damian Zane (Edgeworth)

“I think this group actually needs something each year to spark them. You start the season and it doesn’t really start until something happens, either a poor result or you get a big game. I think they are a pretty proud group and they were hurting after the loss [to the Jaffas]. I’ve seen it at training and we are back and I really expect us to knuckle down over the next month and set a base for the rest of year.”

“[Maitland] are actually my tip to be a bit of a dark horse this year, to be honest. They have recruited pretty well, some good additions. I thought they had a pretty good team up there last year, and I sort of look at their squad and now you’ve sort of got a 16-man squad there. It just shows the comp is getting stronger. Teams that had a strong ‘team’ have now added to it and have a strong squad.”

 Phil Dando (Maitland)

“We’ve got a full-on schedule and [Edgeworth] have had the week off. I’ve had a check through the draw and every team we play has the bye the week before they play us so they are all going to be fresh and we are playing catch-up. Anyway, as I said to the guys in my experience, every player I know has preferred to be playing games than training, so we are going to be playing games alone for the next few weeks.”

“The guys are full of confidence. They know from last season that they weren’t far away and they know if they just work that little bit harder they can give it a real shake this year and the attitude is great. It was just exemplified [against the Jets] for me, where no one got on anyone’s back when we were 2-0 down and they all just rallied round and worked so hard to get it back to 2-2 at half-time and went on with it in the second half.”

Key: With just two days between matches and after playing on the synthetic fields at Lake Macquarie against the Jets, will Maitland have the fuel in the tank to take down the Eagles?

 

Valentine Phoenix v Adamstown Rosebud
2.30 pm Saturday 8th April at Cahill Oval

Last Meeting: Round 12, 2016: Adamstown 2 Valentine 0 at Blacksmiths Oval.
Ladder: Valentine 4th (6), Adamstown 10th (2)

Past 3 Starts (most recent first):

Valentine – Won Jaffas 3-2 (a), Lost Roosters 0-3 (a), Lost Magic 2-3 (a)
Adamstown – Drew Bears 3-3 (h), Lost Olympic 0-1 (h), Lost Eagles 0-6 (a)

Bottom Line

It has taken a while but finally, Valentine will be allowed back onto Cahill Oval to play their first home match of the 2017 season. While it will be good for the Phoenix to return home, their record in the top flight isn’t great.

Out of four of their matches at Cahill last season, Valentine didn’t win any before they moved their matches away from the ground. They conceded 14 in those four matches and scored just two and whether their home demons will hang around in 2017 remains to be seen.

If you take out their midweek disappointment against Lakes where they were taken down 3-0, Valentine have been very good so far this season. Wins against Charlestown and Lambton and a credible loss to Broadmeadow hold them in good stead for a match against an Adamstown side who just lack confidence at the moment.

Expectations were high for the Rosebud’s after winning the Heritage Cup in the pre-season, but the shine has come off in recent weeks. While they did very well to fight back and claim a point in round one with just ten men, the last three matches have been major disappointments.

First, a 6-0 thumping at the hands of Adamstown, marred by another red card, started their slide. Then a last-minute loss to Hamilton didn’t help their confidence level. If that wasn’t enough giving away a 3-1 lead against Weston was very disappointing for Pete McGuinness’ side.

But, on the bright side, the Rosebud’s have the chance to turn the form guide around this weekend against a side they beat twice last season 2-0.

In terrible news for the Rosebud’s, Robbie Turnbull (knee) is out for the season, while Dayne Pawlik will miss the match with work commitments. Youngster Tom Beecham will come into the starting side.

For the Phoenix Josh Carroll (hip flexor) is out, while Zac Sneddon (hip flexor), Alex Tserepas (ankle), and Chris Brown (knee) will all be assessed later in the week.

What the Coaches Said:

Darren Sills (Valentine)

“[The bad record against Adamstown last year] will affect the way we approach the match. I was a little bit outspoken about the way we performed against them last year and I was probably made to eat my words. I want to make sure basically that we turn up because if we don’t, we’ll do what happened against Lake Macquarie.”

“First and foremost we are training [at Cahill Oval] tomorrow night. That’s the first part of the jigsaw puzzle, that hopefully we can start to get more of an understanding of the pitch, because it’s a massive ground and an awkward one with the cricket pitch in the middle. I went and had a look at it the other day and it’s in pristine condition. The curator Steven Clarkeson copped a bit of hammering last year with the way the pitch came up, but, he has done a fantastic job this year.”

Pete McGuinness (Adamstown)

“We’ve got to make sure we don’t concede that many goals, we have conceded far too many already. We’ve got to make sure we stay in the game with them and hopefully we take the chances we create. It’s just a lack of intensity in and around defending those vital desperate situations. We need to have more mongrel in us to defend our goal.”

“[I think the expectations after winning the Heritage Cup] were where they should have been. I think I’ve got a good bunch of boys. You plant a seed in the ground and it grows into a tree. You put a new team together and it starts to grow. I thought it was good for them the fact that it should give them some self-belief that they are a decent group and a decent squad and they can play some decent football.”

Key: Can Valentine rid Cahill Oval of the demons which plagued them last season?

 

Hamilton Olympic v Newcastle Jets Youth
6 pm Saturday 8th April at Darling Street Oval

Last Meeting: Round 16, 2016: Hamilton 1 Jets Youth 0 at Darling Street Oval.

Ladder: Hamilton 8th (3), Jets Youth 11th (1)

Past 3 Starts (most recent first):

Hamilton – Won Rosebud 1-0 (a), Lost Jaffas 2-3 (h)
Jets – Lost Magpies 2-4 (h), Lost Blues 1-4 (h), Drew Rosebud 4-4 (h)

 

Bottom Line

Hamilton have put the Jets Youth to the sword on the last three occasions by a combined margin of 13-0 and while the last match featured just the one goal, it has been the Jets inability to deal with Hamilton’s physicality which has led to Olympic’s nine-game unbeaten record against the Jets.

After starting the year on fire in the opening 45 minutes against the Jaffas, Olympic let Lambton back into the contest in the second half, conceding three goals and losing 3-2.

With an older side, the talk of their ‘ageing squad’ began to grow louder after the second half collapse, especially after the injury to young midfielder Rhys Cooper late in their opening match. But, Hamilton quelled that talk – for the moment – with a last minute win against Adamstown in round three.

The Jets Youth have scored plenty and conceded 12 goals at an average of four a game in their three matches so far and it’s something which has become a trait of the young Jets.

Lacking depth at the back has certainly impacted them, and will continue to do so but it is in the front third where they will continue to do damage this season. If they can tighten up their defence, they will do some serious damage.

Hamilton’s Captain Kyle Hodges should return from injury and will play his 100th match, while Matt Swan while also return. Andrew Swan is still a week away, while Rhys Cooper is still a month away from returning.

What the Coaches Said: 

Mick Bolch (Hamilton Olympic)

“The [last win against Adamstown] gave the boys a bit of a boost. When you haven’t played many matches with the game washed out on the weekend it doesn’t help. But, the boys have been training well. A 92nd minute winner after conceding to lose against the Jaffas in the 91st minute, it swings and roundabouts. You keep working hard and things turn around.”

“What [the Jets] lack in size they make up for. They are that much fitter and that much sharper than every other side in the comp, and they should be training five times a week. They are very well structured and its just a matter of doing what we do well. Obviously, the physical side of it, most first grade sides should be physically be better than them, but as far as the technical and fitness side of it I think they’ve got the edge on most sides.” 

Clayton Zane (Jets Youth)

“I think physically [Hamilton] are our biggest challenge based on what happened last year. They’ll be the biggest physical test that we will have for sure. You can only go off other results though, and Adamstown stuck in the game against them and we did alright against Adamstown, so you sort of hope our boys can man up a bit.”

“We might look to go with guys who match up against [Hamilton physically] a bit better. The other thing we try and do when we play a team that can have that physical presence up top is to try and get pressure on the ball as early as we can, so those types of games we have to try and play a high line and move some space in behind.”

Key: Physicality. The Jets have struggled with Olympic’s strength up front losing the last three matches between the sides by a combined score of 13-0. Hamilton’s Kane Goodchild scored five of those.

 

Charlestown City Blues v Broadmeadow Magic
2.30pm Sunday 9th April at Lisle Carr Oval

Last Meeting: Round 17, 2016: Charlestown 3 Broadmeadow 2 at Magic Park.
Ladder: Charlestown 6th (4), Broadmeadow 3rd (7)

Last 3 Starts (most recent first):

Charlestown – Won Jets 4-1 (a), Drew Roosters 1-1 (h), Lost Phoenix 1-2 (h)
Broadmeadow – Lost Roosters 1-4 (h), Won Phoenix 3-2 (h), Won Bears 2-0 (h)

Bottom Line

Ruben Zadkovich will be hoping for a similar response from his troops that Shane Pryce received out of his side on the weekend after Broadmeadow fell to Lake Macquarie in round four. It ended a six-game unbeaten run against Lakes and Zadkovich’s unbeaten run in the PS4 NPL with Broadmeadow.

Magic certainly had their chances in the 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Roosters, especially in the first half with Kale Bradbury and James Virgili going close on a number of occasions.

Bradbury, Magic’s second top scorer last season with 17 goals, has struggled with confidence this season and hasn’t found the back of the net in the opening four matches, while Virgili has scored just two. At this point last season both had three each to their name.

Zadkovich brought key men Shane Paul, Jon Griffiths and Peter Haynes on from the bench against Lakes, so you would expect at least two of them to return to the starting side this weekend.

Charlestown responded strongly to a lacklustre start to the season last weekend as they put the Jets to the sword in the final 15 minutes, when they scored three goals to win 4-1.

After disappointing performances against Valentine in round one, and Lakes in round three, Shane Pryce’s criticism of his side worked and he will be hoping they bring the same energy and commitment from Saturday into the battle with Broadmeadow.

The Blues have one of the better records of local sides against Magic, winning three of their last five matches, including their last match in round 17 last year where Rene Ferguson was the last-minute hero for Charlestown.

What the Coaches Said: 

Shane Pryce (Charlestown)

“The amount of games and the timeframe that we have had them in has not helped us so it has been good to get a bit of consistency in our game and we can play week in week out football.”

“Our urgency, our willingness to win our battles – our one-on-one battles – and just the general urgency we showed [on the weekend] all over the park was great.”

Ruben Zadkovich (Broadmeadow)

“Sometimes when you rotate things and change formations there is an element of a gamble to it. You want it to come off and you want to see those boys who are getting some time take their opportunities. I didn’t think any of them were particularly poor [on the weekend].”

“It comes down to your execution of what we have spoken about and what we have worked on and can they recognise the scenarios, and it’s a challenge for those boys and it’s a challenge for me as a coach to educate them enough in the short space of time you want to do it. I wanted to give a few of the boys game time and wanted to try something different and that gamble [didn’t pay off on the weekend]. When you don’t take your chances in games you get punished.”

Key: How will Broadmeadow respond from last week’s upset loss to Lakes?

Related Topics:
NPL Premier Competitions

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