Match of the Round
Edgeworth Eagles v Maitland Magpies
Sunday 29th July, 2:30pm at Jack McLaughlan Oval
At different places in the ladder but three points clear in their own respects, this is a huge match for both teams at the pointy end of the season.
In what has developed into a strong, competitive rivalry since Maitland’s promotion back to the top tier of local football, Edgeworth hold the upper hand. They’ve won all but two matches in the last ten between these two, including a 2-0 win back in Round 8.
It’s the back end of a huge three game run for Edgeworth, who beat Hamilton and Charlestown in the weeks previous and now face fourth-placed Maitland.
The most recent of those victories was a 2-0 over Charlestown, with an own goal and a Daniel McBreen header extending the Eagles unbeaten run in the league to nine matches.
May 13th is the last time Edgeworth was beaten in the NPL NNSW, and they’ve won their last four games on the trot. It’s a run which has them perched three points clear at the top.
Maitland are three points clear themselves as well, but of fifth place rather than second. They could have shot six clear of the chasing pack with a win last weekend, but earned a point in a 0-0 stalemate against Hamilton.
It was a hard-earned point for a side which was missing four first-team regulars, and had a bench filled with players aged 21 or under. It’s a good reflection of the depth in youth which Maitland has – their Under 20s side is currently at the top of the table.
This match is the second in a tough run home for Maitland, who face all the other teams in the top five in their final five matches this season. A win on Sunday would be huge in their quest to remain inside the top four.
What the coaches said:
Damien Zane (Edgeworth)
“Maitland are doing pretty well despite their injuries, I think they’ve kept three clean sheets in a row. Bolchy’s got his teams pretty organised defensively, they’ll be tough to break down. I know Alex Read is back, Sean Pratt, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Clarkey come on which will add to their attack. We’re expecting a semi-finals type match.
“We weren’t at our best last weekend [in the 2-0 win over Charlestown] but you can’t expect to be good every weekend. One of our trademarks is getting the job done, even when we’re not at our best. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but I thought we were fairly comfortable without being flashy and it’s good to sometimes have those wins.
“To win the comp you’ve got to do that, you can’t be up and play good football every match because the players are only human. They’ve just got to roll their sleeves up, work hard for each other, take our chances and we did that. I’m happy to win whatever way it is.
“Aaron McLoughlin hurt his ankle last week so he’s out. Dylan Holz will be back in, and Josh Evans was on the bench last weekend. He only flew in on the Friday so we weren’t going to risk him unless we were hanging on near the end and needed him on, so he’ll have a full week of training under his belt and be ready to go [this weekend].”
Lake Macquarie City v Hamilton Olympic
Saturday 28th July, 2:30pm at Macquarie Field
Saturday’s visitors missed the chance to jump level with the top four last weekend and the hosts slipped down the ladder after a seven-goal thriller.
In fact, there were seven goals scored the last time these two sides met too when Hamilton pinched a 4-3 win in a tit-for-tat battle at Darling Street Oval back in May.
High scoring games have become somewhat of a theme of Lakes’ games this season, and there have been more goals at Roosters’ matches than any other side with 66 (30 for, 36 against).
The 4-3 loss to Jets Youth last weekend was one in which Lakes never led, but were level at 2-2 and 3-3 before an 82nd minute goal condemned them to defeat and pushed Lakes down to tenth on the ladder.
Such is the compact nature of that ladder, a win this weekend could push them back up as high as eighth. Will Lakes have enough in the tank though, especially against a desperate Hamilton side?
Olympic could have pushed level with the top four last weekend, but a frustrating 0-0 draw with Maitland denied them the chance to make any significant ground on the finals spots.
Still three points off fourth place, Hamilton need to ensure they pick up maximum points every weekend between now and the finals in order to capitalise on any potential slip up from Maitland.
Therefore, a win on Saturday is crucial to Hamilton’s finals hopes. Even more so when you consider that this weekend is followed by big matches against Lambton and Magic.
What the coaches said:
Nick Webb (Lakes)
“I’m hoping it’s not a high scoring game, I hope we win 1-0. I’d like to get a clean sheet to be honest, we’re looking to be better defensively and if we can snag a goal that would be really good.
“I’m expecting Hamilton to be quietly confident, and hungry for the game. Last time we showed that we can stay in the fight, we’ve certainly got what we need to get a result this weekend.
“Sam Walker has been outstanding for us this year, we made him captain at the start of the year and he’s led from the front. There’d be nothing better for the squad to see him get the Golden Boot, I understand James Virgili was injured last night [in the FFA Cup] which might open the door up for Sam. There’s no doubt we’re not making the semi-finals this year, so there’d be nothing better than to send Sam out with the Golden Boot.
“Not really any changes this weekend, Jackson O’Sullivan snapped his wrist in the first couple of minutes last weekend against the Jets. Harry Lane should be back in for him after a couple of weeks out with a head injury, so we should be back to our starting 11.”
Weston Bears v Valentine Phoenix
Sunday 29th July, 2:30pm at Rockwell Automation Park
This time last week, this match would have been a clash of the cellar-dwellers but with one side’s rise through the ranks it’s now an opportunity for some momentum.
Valentine has won just once this year, and it was against Weston back in Round 8. The 4-3 victory was a see-sawing affair which saw Valentine go down in the first minute, streak out to a two goal lead, and survive a late scare.
This weekend’s home side looked to be down and out, after their huge and potentially season defining win against Maitland back in Round 12 was followed by four games without a win.
Weston then shocked the competition with a 3-0 with over Charlestown in Round 17, and then last week kept the good times rolling with a 2-1 win over a ten-man Adamstown side.
Sat eighth on the ladder, the Bears could jump even higher if things go their way this weekend. A point on Sunday would mathematically assure they avoid the wooden spoon.
On the other hand, failure to take three points could send the wooden spoon to Valentine and see them finish bottom of the league for the first time since 2013. Unlike that year however, they won’t be relegated to the NEWFM Northern League One.
In order to avoid a similar fate, they’ll need to orchestrate a staggering turnaround in their remaining four matches. They’ve lost their last four matches on the trot, conceding 14 goals along the way.
Five of those goals came last weekend courtesy of Broadmeadow in the 5-0 drubbing at CB Complex. The only team Valentine has beat all season is Weston – can they do it again this weekend?
What the coaches said:
Sam Griffin (Valentine assistant)
“Weston have played themselves into form and have had a couple of good wins in the last two weeks, unfortunately we’re coming up against a team on the up which is not what we want. We want the teams around us to get beat to give us a chance to get out of trouble, but they’re not doing us any favours so we’ll do it the hard way.
“Avoiding last place is pretty significant for us, it’s not a prize that anyone wants to finish the year with so there’s a fair bit of motivation to get ourselves out of trouble. It’s unfortunate, we’ve been playing decent games and getting beat so we’ve got to find another gear to go to.
“It’s just a matter of concentration for most games, for example against Olympic a couple of weeks ago they scored four goals in 15 minutes and then for the rest of the game we were level. It’s those lapses which break us, and we just can’t come back from those kind of things. While we play good football for long periods, it’s about playing it for 95 minutes to get a result.
“Aaron Niyonkuru is in doubt, he had an MRI on Wednesday on his knee which is unfortunate for us. Scott Carter, Zac Sneddon, and Connor Motherway have to get through training on Thursday to be a chance.”
Charlestown City Blues v Adamstown Rosebud
Sunday 29th July, 2:30pm at Lisle Carr Oval
With the season winding down, the lofty ambitions which Charlestown held at the beginning now hinge on getting results at the back end.
Adamstown will be looking this weekend to secure two wins in as many attempts over Charlestown this season, following their 3-2 win over the Blues back in Round 8.
Last weekend was a tough assignment for Charlestown, and one in which they weren’t able to upset the scales and pinch a win. They went down 2-0 to league-leaders Edgeworth.
Despite a torrid run of form that has seen the Blues pick up one win in their past seven outings, Charlestown still sits just four points off fourth place.
Troop numbers are low for Charlestown with a number of key players out through injury, so just how they’ll approach Sunday’s match will be one to watch. Remember, they have their FFA Cup Round of 32 clash with NPL Victoria side Heidelberg United coming up next Wednesday night.
Adamstown have no such midweek match to contend with in the aftermath of this Sunday’s clash, but they’ll be down on troops this week after two red cards last weekend.
Robbie Turnbull and Ben Higgins were both sent off – Higgins after the final whistle – in the 2-1 loss to Weston which pushed them down into ninth on the ladder.
It means that once again, Rosebud will be without more experienced personnel in the backline. Coach, and occasional player, Shane Cansdell-Sherriff may step into the fray, after starting in the Under 20s 4-3 win last weekend.
Lambton Jaffas and Newcastle Jets Youth played their Round 19 fixture on Tuesday night, with Jaffas winning 3-0.
Broadmeadow Magic has the bye.