By Ben Homer
Match of the Round
Edgeworth Eagles v Adamstown Rosebud
6 pm Saturday 25th March at Jack McLaughlan Oval
Last Meeting: Heritage Cup 2017 Final: Adamstown 1 (3) Edgeworth 1 (2) at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility.
Ladder: Edgeworth 7th (1pt), Adamstown 4th (1)
Edgeworth – Drew Magic 1-1 (h)
Adamstown – Drew Jets 4-4 (a)
Two sides with similar round one storyline’s will meet in the ‘Match of the Round’ in the third week of the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues (NPL) Northern NSW (NNSW) competition. Both Edgeworth and Adamstown were required to fight back from a goal down and a man down in their opening round encounters and neither will want to go through that again.
In a re-match of the Northern NSW 2017 Heritage Cup decider, Edgeworth gets their chance to avenge the defeat from just three weeks ago. It was a tight match that afternoon with Paul Bitz the hero for Adamstown in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 fulltime scoreline.
However, that result will mean little come Saturday, with Edgeworth seemingly back in their groove. The Eagles fighting qualities were no more evident than in their opening match against Broadmeadow where after going a man and a goal down they still managed to fight back into the contest and claim a valuable point.
Both Edgeworth and Adamstown missed out on their round two match-ups against Lambton and Hamilton respectively and both will be eager to get back on the pitch and claim some points.
In their only match to date, Adamstown too could only grab a point from their clash with the Jets Youth. After the high of the Heritage Cup victory the week earlier, it was expected by many that the Rosebud’s would make light work of a young Jets outfit.
But, it wasn’t the case as Adamstown made the job even harder for themselves going a man down as former Weston defender Robbie Turnbull was sent off for a second yellow. They then conceded two minutes later to be down 3-2 with less than 15 minutes to play. The Rosebuds rallied through to score twice and claim a share of the points.
Adamstown welcome back a host of players for the clash with Mitch Hunter, Owen Littlewood, Justin Tannock and Captain Dayne Pawlik returning for the match. Edgeworth will still be without Kieran Sanders and Ayden Brice (both suspended), while Josh Evans will be away with work.
What the Coaches Said:
Damian Zane (Edgeworth)
“I still say it and it’s only early days but our end product, decision-making and our execution has let us down a bit. Our ground work has been good and then we’ve sort of let ourselves down with that final pass or maybe we’ve delivered a decent cross and we’re not getting in the box.”
“It’s pretty simple with me if you’re a midfielder or an attacking player and by round five you’ve got no goals or no assists, you’re no use to me. We’re a team that I think is hard to defend because we don’t have one out and out scorer. We all score, we all assist and share the load so it’s important with the competition for spots in our squad you’ve got to perform.”
Pete McGuinness (Adamstown)
“I think ultimately [the Heritage Cup Final] was only a draw and only played over 60 minutes, but, in saying that it did give the boys some confidence and self-belief that we can play against the bigger teams and compete. The team on the weekend will be a bit different to that weekend and I’m sure they will be different as well, both in personnel and attitude.”
“I think you have got to do one of two things [against Edgeworth]. You’ve got to stop the supply to their players in our half or you’ve got to deny them space in behind. Whatever happens, I think the most important thing we have got to do is compete physically, and be in the fight. If we can do that we’ve got a decent enough structure that we can contain possession and build our own attacks.”
Key: Will the loss of Robbie Turnbull’s experience at the back, will it affect a younger Rosebud’s outfit?
Newcastle Jets Youth v Maitland Magpies
2.30 pm Saturday 25th March at Cooks Square Park
Last Meeting: Round 13, 2016: Jets Youth 1 Maitland 1 at Cooks Square Park.
Ladder: Jets Youth 5th (1), Maitland 9th (0)
Jets Youth – Drew Rosebud 4-4 (h)
Maitland – Bye
It’s been a long wait for Maitland to finally get their season underway and they will be hoping for some sunny weather over the coming days or it may take even long. A battle against a young and fit Jets Youth side will provide a test for the Magpies in Phil Dando’s first match as head coach.
As they did last season the Jets Youth surprised many in their opening round clash with the Rosebud’s competing well and claiming a 4-4 draw. Clayton Zane probably would have been a little disappointed to not have taken the three points against a side down to ten men for the final 15 minutes of the contest.
It was the Jets’ Achilles heel last year and it was the issue in round one – their defence. They can score goals with ease, but it’s keeping tight at the back which has been the issue. Against a Maitland side with a strong defence, the Jets may not get as many chances in front of goal and leaking goals will cost them against the Magpies.
Shane Cansdell-Sheriff was expected to make his long-awaited PS4 NPL NNSW debut but will miss the match with coaching commitments. While Andrew Pawiak will face off against his former club in his first PS4 NPL match for the Magpies. The extra wait for Maitland to start their season will have benefited their squad no end with combinations able to be developed further.
Maitland has history on their side too. In four of their PS4 NPL matches against the Jets Youth they have won two, drawn one and lost one, but that loss was almost two years ago and with a vastly different squad.
In addition to Cansdell-Sheriff missing the match, Matt Thompson also will miss the match as he is playing for the Australian Legends side in Perth. Like Thompson, Ryan Clarke too will head over to Perth. Phil Dando says English recruit Josh Dutton-Black isn’t quite up to full fitness and will most likely play in the u/20s and sit on the bench for first grade on Saturday.
What the Coaches Said:
Clayton Zane (Jets Youth)
“For us its been about getting players back on the pitch because we were really hamstrung in round one with injuries and we are still not in a good place. It has really been about damage limitation, trying not to get any injuries in training. The first game of the year I thought the performance was really good.”
“Defensively we are going to have problems all year just because of our lack of options and age so that’s not going to change too much. Young Caio [DeGodoy] has gone overseas so we’ve lost another defender. Maitland is a team we’ve had trouble with in the past just in a physical sense. I thought [our matches against Maitland] were probably our two hardest matches last year and I expect the same.”
Phil Dando (Maitland)
“I’m looking forward to coaching against Clacka [Clayton Zane] considering I used to coach him in the Newcastle Breakers Youth team. It’ll be nice to be on the sideline next to him in a coaching role. It just goes to show how old I’m getting!”
“We expect the Jets will play some neat football and my assistants know a bit about them from last season. We’ll just approach it with fresh eyes and concentrate on what we’ve been working on for the past few weeks since I’ve been here. It’ll take a bit of time [to get our structures right] and I’m not expecting it to all fall into place in the first game.”
Key: How well can the Jets defend? Against a Maitland side who give away few chances themselves the Jets backline will need to be on song to keep their side in the contest.
Broadmeadow Magic v Valentine Phoenix
7 pm Saturday 25th March at Magic Park
Last Meeting: Round 16, 2016: Broadmeadow 1 Valentine 2 at Johnson Park.
Ladder: Broadmeadow 1st (4) Valentine 3rd (3)
Broadmeadow – Won Bears 2-0 (h), Drew Eagles 1-1 (a)
Valentine – Won Blues 2-1 (a)
Broadmeadow will look to quell Valentine’s strong recent record against them when they meet at Magic Park on Saturday night.
In 2016, the highly-fancied Magic outfit could only claim one point from a possible six against the Phoenix, with a 3-3 draw in round seven followed by one of the upsets of the season in round 16 where the Phoenix beat Broadmeadow 2-1.
Broadmeadow will need to be on their toes against a Valentine side with plenty of pace and be especially careful of American import Jalon Brown who impressed against Charlestown in the opening round. The Phoenix’s counter-attack caused the Blues all sorts of problems that evening and you would expect more of the same against Magic.
After leaking goals last season, Valentine has seemed to sure up their defence this season with Zac Sneddon and Reece Pettit marshalling the backline and the experienced Scott Carter in goals.
Magic are one of only two sides who has played all their matches so far this season, as they played in round two against Weston. Broadmeadow produced an uncharacteristically gritty display against the Bears, only sealing the match in the 92nd minute via a James Virgili breakaway.
Magic struggled in attack for the opening 60 minutes until Peter Haynes entered the field of play and changed the match. He proceeded to tee up Kale Bradbury and Virgili on numerous occasions and his influence seems key for Broadmeadow this season.
What the Coaches Said:
Ruben Zadkovich (Broadmeadow)
“The thing that I probably try and stress to the boys is that the league is constantly improving. You are not going to get as many easy games as you would have had [in the past]. I think Weston is a good example, a young team, but coached by an experienced coach. [Steve Piggott] knows the league well, and he knows how to make it uncomfortable for you.”
“I think Valentine – I don’t know too much about their squad – but they’ll make things difficult for us and they’ll have their own qualities as well. There’s no easy games. We’ve just got to stick to our process and the way we play. We’ve got a pretty complex way of playing. It may look simple from the outside but on the inside, I ask for a lot of little detail and the boys are doing the majority of it. It’s going to get better with each game and we’re happy with where we are at.”
Sam Griffin (Valentine Assistant)
“We need to do what we did in round one for 92 and a half minutes and defend well. High pressure for as much as we can and the longer we can stop them from scoring, then hopefully they will get frustrated and that will give us a chance to win the match. The age of saying, if you don’t concede you’ve only got to score one.”
“I think our back four is key, we’ve got a lot of guys pushing for a spot there. Wilson Edwards didn’t even get on the park the last match and he is raring to go. To keep the likes of Kale Bradbury, James Virgili, Peter Haynes, etc, quiet, the four guys at the back are going to have to be right on top of their game.”
Key: Peter Haynes (Magic) and Jalon Brown (Phoenix). Both have been influential for their respective sides this season and their impact will be vital.
Charlestown City Blues v Lake Macquarie City Roosters
2.30 pm Sunday 26th March at Lisle Carr Oval
Last Meeting: Round 17, 2014: Charlestown 2 Lake Macquarie 1 at Lisle Carr Oval.
Ladder: Charlestown 11th (0), Lake Macquarie 6th (1)
Charlestown – Lost Phoenix 1-2 (h)
Lake Macquarie – Drew Bears 2-2 (a)
Expect plenty of goals in this match-up with the last six matches seeing an average of just over five goals scored. While there have been goals aplenty, Charlestown won five of those six matches but only outscored the Roosters 18-13 so all the matches were tight high-scoring affairs.
Both coaches were disappointed after their opening round showings and would like to turn it around here. While a loss wouldn’t be fatal at this early stage neither sides would want a slow start especially with tougher matches to come against the noted ‘big sides’.
Charlestown competed well for most of their round one clash with Valentine despite being a man down for the final 35 minutes of the match. The injury to Corey Atkinson just before the break hurt the Blues and the wet weather will give him an extra week to recover from a nasty eye injury.
Lake Macquarie coach Anthony Richards was disappointed in the quality of football his side played in their opening fixture against Weston but understood the heat of the Hunter Valley took it out of his side. With high humidity expected for Sunday, it won’t easy so expect a hard-fought battle from either side.
Tom Walker will miss the match with a quad injury for Lakes. For Charlestown, Dan Casciaroli (suspended) is out but Atkinson (eye) could return for the Blues. Jarryd Johnson (away) is also out for the home side.
In other news regarding Charlestown, Josh Swadling has left the club due to the requirements of travelling up to training from the Central Coast.
What the Coaches Said:
Shane Pryce (Charlestown)
“They started off with a point even though they are newly up in the competition. They are not to be taken lightly with what they did in their first game. They are a team that has come up and willing to prove a point and I’m very wary of them, to be honest.”
“I think our last game as far as standards we set is disappointing and there are some individual performances that people will want to correct. We’ve been working on getting roles and responsibilities right for individual players. You get a chance to review videos and to talk and watch players and try to develop them as to what I want and I’m trying to do that and improve that communication.”
Anthony Richards (Lake Macquarie)
“We realise every game is really tough and these guys will be thinking there are three points for them this weekend and we believe we can take the three points. I don’t think it really matters what stage of the season it is whether it be round one or round eighteen we’ll be looking to put our best foot forward. We just want to do really well whenever we play.”
“Prycey’s company Chubb Fire do some work for us at my work so I’m organising a meeting on Sunday at 2.30pm for him to attend. I meant to send out the meeting invite today, but I forgot so I’ll have to send it out tomorrow. But, in all seriousness the boys are really excited to play, they’re as toey as a Roman sandal. “
Key: Desire. Conditions will be tough for football on Sunday afternoon in Charlestown so expect a hard slog.
Weston Bears v Lambton Jaffas
2.30 pm Sunday 26th March at Rockwell Automation Park
Last Meeting: Round 18, 2016: Lambton 4 Weston 1 at Arthur Edden Oval.
Ladder: Weston 8th (1) Lambton 2nd (3)
Weston – Lost Magic 0-2 (a), Drew Roosters 2-2 (h)
Lambton – Won Olympic 3-2 (a)
Lambton will be buoyed by their opening round come from behind win against fellow title contenders Hamilton and the wet weather over the weekend would have done little to dampen their spirits.
They face a Weston outfit who competed hard for 90 minutes against Broadmeadow in the only match in round two, but in the end, a red card early in the second half to centre-back Jordan Jackson crippled their chances. With the second meeting in a week against a side expected to finish in the top four will provide another good test for the young Bears and at home they should make like difficult for the Jaffas.
With the likes of Joel Griffiths, Jobe Wheelhouse and Michael Kantarovski, the Jaffas have plenty of Hyundai A-League experience across the park. Combine that with the speed of Luke Remington and Ridge Marpu down the flanks and Weston will have plenty to worry about. As well as Pat Brown – the hero of their opening round win – hasn’t even been mentioned.
Weston has their own quality as well with Greg Anderson leading the Bears backline. Striker Jamie Byrnes will also be looking for a strong performance when he comes up against one of his former clubs, while keeper Kane Runge was superb on against Magic and will get another acid test this weekend.
In a blow for the visitors, Nathan Morris will miss the match with his former club with a hamstring injury. While Jacob Golding (injured) and Jordan Jackson (suspended) will be out for Weston.
What the Coaches Said:
Steve Piggott (Weston)
“Every match is a challenge for us at this stage. James [Pascoe] is a long-term friend of mine and he’s been under my tutelage being an assistant coach under me a few years ago and he’s done well for himself. He’ll have his squad primed up for the match. They’ve got plenty of experience and a bit of pace so no different to Broadmeadow, they’re a good team.”
“All I can ask is the young guys step up and try and improve and it will be a happy camp. Everything is positive at the minute and we are believing in ourselves. Once we get to the top of that and we get a result, they’ll grow in confidence.”
James Pascoe (Lambton)
“I think my approach to [potential complacency] is squad rotation. Good chunks of the team will be getting their first start and I’d like to think there would be an eagerness about them because of that reason. I’ll do that weekly. They’ll be two and three and four changes per week throughout the season just because of the depth we have and it does keep people on their toes.”
“Training has been a case of ‘do what you can with the available facility that you’ve got.’ From a fitness point of view, we’ve been able to tick over quite well, but from a tactical point of view we have some work to do until we get a bit more consistent. But, until we get on a full pitch and can do that work it’s a case of talk about things and draw things and hope the boys understand.”
Key: Weston will need to play for the full 90 minutes. Lapses hurt them against Broadmeadow last weekend and they can’t afford them against a lethal Jaffas frontline.